The Federal Government has seized on a new global education report, saying it reinforces the need to get better results from school funding.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) snapshot of 46 countries showed Australia proportionally spends more on education than most developed nations.
Despite that, Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham said Australia went backwards on a number of indicators.
“It shows that we don’t do as well as some other nations in terms of performance, yet we are sitting amongst the top of the pack in terms of investment,” Senator Birmingham said.
“You have to make sure that you’re investing the money wisely in terms of how it’s spent, what happens in the schools, the types of policies that make a real difference to student outcomes,” he said.
The 500-page study, released last night, found Australian primary teachers earn incomes above the OECD average.
It also showed Australia’s public schools have smaller class sizes than private schools.
The Education at a Glance report said spending more on education does not automatically improve student performance.
“Higher levels of expenditure on education cannot automatically be equated with better performance by education systems,” the document said.
“This is not surprising, as countries spending similar amounts on education do not necessarily have similar education policies and practices.
“There is no simple relationship between overall spending on education and the level of student performance.”
‘Commonwealth has budget pressures’ Senator
But the Grattan Institute’s school education expert Peter Goss said the OECD report is not definitive.
“It says there’s no simple relationship between overall spending on education and the level of student performance,” Dr Goss said.
“That’s like saying, if I pay more for premium ingredients, that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m going to cook a nicer meal.
“[More spending] enables the possibility of better outcomes. And different evidence shows that when the most disadvantaged schools get more money, they typically do better with it.”
Senator Birmingham will meet states and territories next week to begin negotiating funding beyond next year.
“The states and territories have to recognise that the Commonwealth has budget pressures,” he said.
“End the calls for even more money, recognise that funding from the Turnbull Government will grow … above inflation, above enrolments.
“And work with us to ensure it’s distributed fairly, according to need, and in return there are effective reforms to lift student outcomes.”