Kids at the blackboard Source: flickr
Kids at the blackboard Source: flickr audiolucistore

Written by Philippe Coquerand, edited for online by Keira Wallace

A new report has shown a decline in literacy and numeracy among young Australian school students.

Students have been struggling with reading, mathematics and science and the Australian Council for Educational Research said the results have been on a steady decrease since 2000.

Council Chief Executive Geoff Masters said students are falling behind.

“In mathematics the decline has been quite marked,” he said

“We are seeing our students perform less well in absolute terms, they have lower levels of skill now than they had back in the year 2000.”

He said teachers play a vital role in educating students and ensuring they receive the best help they possibly can.

“I think we need to look at how we are recruiting, preparing and supporting teachers in their work,” he said.

“Ultimately we know what makes a difference in schools is the quality of the teaching that is occurring in the classroom.”

Labor announced funding of $4.8 million for teaching and resources, a move welcomed by the Queensland Teachers Union.

Union Vice President Sam Pigeon said the funding should help improve the results.

“We have seen the beginning of the Gonski money coming into schools,” she said.

“It is making a real difference right from that early level all through those middle years into junior secondary.”

Ms Pigeon said for results to be improved, there needs to be more resources.

“Schools will be able to use the additional money that is going to come in,” she said.

“They will be able to use that for a range of things, some of that will be targeted programs to help kids in the classroom, some of it will also be on teacher professional development.”

Mr Masters said parents should also be showing more interest in their children’s education.

“From a very early age, parents can provide support to schools by reading to students, by taking an interest in what children are doing at school, by ensuring they don’t spend all their time on social media or engaged in other activities,” he said.

“They need to convey to students a positive attitude towards school and towards teachers.”

Mr Masters said the Australian community should be discussing the matter.

“The main thing were saying, through the report, is we need a national conversation, we need to focus on the challenges we have, including the fact that our schools appear to be becoming different from each other, so increasingly in Australia in secondary schools it seems to matter which school students attend,” he said.

The report said there is a growing educational gap between the rich and the poor, and that a large number of students fell below the national average.