Quality teaching and better curriculum keys to educational success

    Julian Leeser presents Normanhurst West Public School student Lucy Clayton with the Berowra Award for Student Excellence.
    Julian Leeser presents Normanhurst West Public School student Lucy Clayton with the Berowra Award for Student Excellence.

    The future strength and health of our society depends on the education children receive today. I have a long term interested in educational quality. I am the Secretary of the Government Backbench Education Committee.

    As an expectant father I worry about the quality of education our children are receiving. Australia had one of the leading education systems in the country but on some of the international tests we are being eclipsed by less developed countries like Kazakhstan and Slovenia.

    Thanks to the policies of our Government, Berowra schools will benefit from an increase in over $1 billion in school funding over the next decade but we want to ensure this funding helps improve performance. Recently the Government commissioned David Gonski to report on how this might be achieved. Gonski will examine the skills and knowledge students should learn at school; how schools could be better organised to drive results; how students can benefit from best practice; and how performance measures can be better used to drive student improvement.

    Berowra is served by 51 high quality schools across the Government, Catholic and independent sector. Our schools are bolstered by parents who value strong education and are prepared to encourage and support their children’s educational needs.

    Before I was an MP, I spent four years working in the education sector at the Australian
    Catholic University which educates more teachers than any other university. I was privileged to work with the Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Craven on the TEMAG report into teacher quality.

    The report recommended better selection procedures for teachers, better quality teacher pracs and subject specialisations for primary teachers. The Government is implementing these recommendations.

    It would be great if all students in Australia had the exceptional opportunities that our children in Berowra have. One organisation that delivers on the TEMAG recommendations in every way is Teach for Australia (TFA) which takes outstanding graduates in other disciplines like science, engineering, law and business and puts them through an intensive Masters program before sending them to underprivileged schools where they are transforming lives and achieving amazing results. While TFA has had great successes in WA, Victoria, NT, ACT and Tasmania they are not yet here in NSW where by the Department’s own predictions, we will need more than 1,000 new teachers.

    I have also been involved as a board member of the recently established Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation. The late Paul Ramsay commissioned me to investigate how more young people might learn about the culture of the West which has shaped Australian society.

    He was concerned that too few people knew about the fundamental building blocks of our society: the philosophy of Greece and Rome, the theology of the Bible, the renaissance, the enlightenment and the birth of liberal democracy as well as Western music art and drama.

    Through the Ramsay Centre, programs for school and university students and the general public will be developed. It is a privilege to be involved in a project which should have such a positive effect on Australian students.

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