26 SES 14 A, Comparing International Educational Authorities – Efficiency, Structure and Goal Fulfillment
Australia has a commonwealth government that oversees six state and two territory governments. Education in Australia is a complex interplay between these different levels of government, and between government and non-government schools. In 2016, 65.4% of students attended a government school, 20.2% a Catholic school, and 14.4% attended a range of independent schools (ABS, 2017). The responsibility for the provision of government schooling constitutionally rests with the state and territory governments, but increasingly there has been commonwealth government influence especially in terms of significant grants to both government and non-government schools, the development of a national curriculum, and national testing of student literacy and numeracy. The educational landscape is complex. Principals have to navigate changes related to teaching and learning (such as personalisation), the construction of new learning environments, developing and rewarding staff, and external pressures like the introduction of a national curriculum, and increasing accountability through initiatives such as the public reporting of school performance data. In recent years there has been a major review of school funding, renewed interest in Australia’ performance on international tests, and consolidation of teaching standards and a principal leadership standard. The initiatives mentioned in this paragraph indicate a complex and somewhat unstable policy environment that principals have to navigate, and one that is characterised by tension between federal and state/territory control of education. Some of the big issues in Australian education include: performance focus; indigenous student education; the quality of teachers, school leaders and schools; school autonomy; school choice; transparent and equitable funding; federal versus state/territory control of education. In this paper, the complexity of the Australian educational landscape is explored and the key players described.
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