Education

A strong public education system is key to investing in the next generation and building a fair, successful and cohesive society.

Principles

The Australian Greens believe that:

  1. Education is a right of children and people at all stages of life and an educated populace is a public good.
  2. Differences in educational outcomes should not be the result of difference in wealth, income, power, possessions or location.
  3. Universal access to high-quality education is fundamental to the development of a fair, economically prosperous, environmentally sustainable and socially cohesive Australia.
  4. All people are entitled to free, well-funded and high quality, life-long public education and training.
  5. The government has a primary responsibility to fund all levels of the public education system — early childhood education, schools, vocational education and training and universities — to provide high-quality education to all students.
  6. Federal funding to the school education system should be on the basis of need and equity to ensure that all Australian children have the opportunity to fulfil their best educational outcomes.
  7. Federal schools funding should be provided through a national needs-based funding model at a level that enables public schools to be of the highest quality, sufficiently diverse, inclusive, responsive, and flexible to cater for all children's educational needs.
  8. Decision making in education should be open to input from teachers and academics and their unions, and parents and students.
  9. Decisions about curriculum, testing, reporting and teaching should be based on evidence and be made in consultation with appropriate educational experts, teachers, and their unions and other stakeholders.
  10. The salaries and conditions of teachers, early childhood educators and other educators should be set at a level that recognises their professionalism, training and the importance of their work, provides secure career structures, and encourages committed and capable people into the teaching profession at all levels of the education system.
  11. First Nations people's educational outcomes should match the rest of the Australian population.
  12. First Nations communities should be able to exercise meaningful control over the design and delivery of educational services for their children and other community members.
  13. The Australian education system should encompass the history, culture and contemporary experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including in the training and professional development of all teachers.
  14. Early childhood education is a critical component of lifelong learning that removes inequity in children's educational progress from the earliest years, and so should be available to all Australian families through accredited public, community or not-for-profit providers on a fee-free basis.
  15. A publicly owned and properly funded TAFE system plays an essential role in providing economic prosperity and a socially just society by offering lifelong educational opportunities and skills development to a broad range of our community.
  16. Vocational education and training (VET) should be primarily provided through the public TAFE system.
  17. The community not-for-profit adult education and VET sectors should also be supported, but not be at the expense of, or in competition with, public TAFE.
  18. Universities are places of learning and research where the needs of the whole community and the values of service to the public, scholarship and academic freedom should take priority over sectional and commercial interests.
  19. Full-time university and VET students are entitled to a living allowance that enables them to focus primarily on their studies.
  20. All students should have the opportunity to study at university and TAFE regardless of their private capacity to pay for their education.
  21. The Australian higher education system should be regulated to protect international students from exploitation and ensure they are treated with dignity and are able to access the services they need.
  22. Education unions are the appropriate representatives of educators in all educational matters.
  23. Quality green space, including nature-play spaces, should be available to all children and young people within educational settings. 

Aims

The Australian Greens want:

  1. A public school system that is recognised as among the best in the world.
  2. Schools funding provided on the basis of equity and need.
  3. An independent national school resourcing body, with continuous operation, strong powers and long-term funding.
  4. Funding levels based on a transparent standard that recognises the real cost of educating students to a high level. Public schools must be fully funded at this level, including the full cost of addressing disadvantage.
  5. Recognising that the substantial growth in federal funding to non-government schools has had an adverse impact on public education, any funding to non-government schools:
    1. to be set so that total public subsidy to the non-government sector does not advantage private education at the expense of public education; and
    2. to take into account the resources of each individual school, a direct measure of parental socio-economic status, and the school's capacity to generate income from all sources, including fees and other contributions.
  6. The adoption of national needs-based funding that results in public funding to private schools being scaled down in accordance with the Schools Resource Standard (including to zero in applicable cases). Any funding so made available will be re-invested in public schools with the highest levels of need.
  7. Increased funding to public education through funding models for all sectors of the education system that prioritise public education.
  8. To ensure that the viability and diversity of existing public schools is not endangered by the development of new private schools.
  9. The same accountability and transparency frameworks for public funding to be required of non-government schools as are required of government schools, including:
    1. non-discrimination in the hiring of staff;
    2. non-discrimination in the selection of students, and an admissions and expulsions policies similar to government schools, including an obligation to enrol;
    3. provision of all information necessary to calculate the income the school has the capacity to generate from fees and all other sources; and
    4. accounting for their use of public funds.
  10. Public education infrastructure to be adequately funded for capital works and maintenance to create an optimal learning environment whilst meeting the highest environmental sustainability standards.
  11. Where public education infrastructure and land is sold because of changing demand, the proceeds to be redirected into a fund for the construction of new public schools and buildings.
  12. Public education infrastructure and land to remain in public ownership and control.
  13. Smaller class sizes throughout the public education system to achieve manageable workloads for all educators and the best educational outcomes for all students.
  14. More teachers to educate children with special needs, in schools that suffer socioeconomic disadvantage and schools with a high proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.
  15. An increase in specialist teachers and support services for students and pre-school children with special needs, including those with a disability or a learning difficulty.
  16. Rejection of performance based pay for school teachers and other educators, as it undermines the cooperative environment that is essential to achieving the best educational outcomes, cannot be fairly implemented, discriminates against disadvantaged schools and students, and places downward pressure on overall pay and conditions.
  17. Increased pay, professional recognition, improved pre- and in-service training and increased release time for the development of, and participation in professional learning communities.
  18. Increased support for First Nations students.
  19. Increased support for students from non-English speaking backgrounds.
  20. Increased support for LGBTIQ students, including the implementation of LGBTIQ-sensitive school-aged education and support programs.
  21. Education on consent and respectful relationships; sex, gender and sexuality diversity; and comprehensive sex education across the Australian school system.
  22. Measures to encourage girls, women and gender diverse people to participate in the full range of trades and disciplines, especially those which are traditionally male-dominated.
  23. Increased resource allocation for the teaching of community languages in public primary and secondary schools, and well-resourced centres for the study of community languages and trade-specific English language courses.
  24. Support for schools in the provision of high-quality information to parents and the community and an end to the public ranking of schools in league tables.
  25. External mass-testing of students to be abolished unless it:
    1. follows the principles of 'assessment for learning';
    2. aligns with the public curriculum applicable in each educational region; and
    3. results are used for diagnostic support of students and treated as professional-in-confidence; or
    4. it results in a robust and high-quality educational credential that serves as a record of the student's achievement for postschool activities
  26. Schools and school systems in receipt of public funding to:
    1. be free from corporate sponsorship and influence, including the use of sponsors' material or logos;
    2. return to public development and ownership of curriculum and lesson materials, assessment, testing and other areas of educational services; and
    3. seek contracts with community sector and not-for-profit providers in the event that students' needs require the purchasing of educational goods and services.
  27. Education funding across all sectors that does not include or promote competition, privatisation, outsourcing, and other market based mechanisms; and that rejects:
    1. the use of funding vouchers for schools;
    2. competitive tendering, contestable funding and entitlement-based funding for TAFE; and
    3. demand-driven and entitlement-based funding for universities, noting that such mechanisms undermine standards and integrity and do not further the complex policy objectives of our education system.
  28. Governments to have overall responsibility for public school finances and staffing, because inappropriate devolution of decision making can:
    1. shift blame for funding constraints more easily to individual school principals rather than government;
    2. undermine a system-wide transfer system that rewards teachers who are prepared to teach in more challenging environments;
    3. increase negative competition between schools and result in the entrenchment of school disadvantage in some geographic locations;
    4. open up the way for privatisation of key aspects of our public schools.
  29. A secular public education system free from religious proselytising and materials that discriminate on the basis of race, sexuality or gender.
  30. To redirect funding for the National School Chaplaincy Program, or equivalent program, to increase funding and support for qualified, secular school welfare and family support professionals in schools.
  31. Home schooling options for parents to educate their children if they meet requirements to provide a balanced education, core educational outcomes and social interaction with peers.
  32. No government funding for schools, VET or tertiary education providers that operate for private profit
  33. To oppose the introduction of corporate, for-profit models of school education.
  34. Strong and well-resourced VET and tertiary education regulators to maintain quality and standards and protect the interests of students and staff.
  35. VET funding priorities which balance student needs, employment demand, and providing skills in satisfying and sustainable employment.
  36. To phase out public funding of privately provided VET where TAFE can provide the same educational and training outcomes.
  37. To address the over-casualisation of TAFE teaching by introducing a benchmark of 80 percent of teaching by permanent staff throughout public and private VET providers.
  38. A substantial increase in the availability of apprenticeships, in rural and regional Australia and other locations where there is a shortage.
  39. Direct government financial support for apprentices, including for training, insurance, tools and equipment, living allowances and other required costs.
  40. Educators to have a key role in developing and reviewing training packages.
  41. A fee and charges free TAFE system, where income contingent loans are unnecessary and the Commonwealth government increases its contribution to the costs of a high quality accessible system.
  42. Improved access to comprehensive publicly provided tertiary education for rural, regional and remote communities.
  43. Increased funding to the tertiary sector and maintenance of sufficient student places to meet the demand of suitably qualified applicants.
  44. To ensure that universities are adequately resourced by the government to ensure planned growth in the sector can occur in order to improve accessibility whilst retaining high quality public education and standards.
  45. An increase in the cost-index per-student funding of all public universities, and adequate funding to all rural, regional and outer-suburban universities.
  46. Free university education for Australian students.
  47. Internationally competitive conditions for academic staff, including clear pathways to permanent work and winding back the casualisation of the sector.
  48. Legislation for elected staff and student representatives on university governing bodies and increased democratic participation by academics, staff, students and community representatives in the decision-making processes within universities.
  49. Affirmative action entrance provisions, residential programs and ongoing assistance to improve university entrance opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.
  50. Recognition of the rights of academics to be supported in developing and maintaining their pursuit of research.
  51. Increased funding for pure and public-outcomes research to ensure that adequate resources are being directed towards this sector of the research community.
  52. The Student Services and Amenities Fee, or any similar levy on students, to be collected and spent by democratically elected, student-controlled organisations in order to ensure the best and fairest provision of student services on university campuses.
  53. Adequately funded university pathway programs, such as enabling courses and sub-degrees.
  54. Educators working in early childhood settings to be recognised and supported through an appropriate level of professional qualification and ongoing accreditation. They should attain salary justice and working conditions commensurate with the importance of their role as foundational educators.
  55. International students to have access to high quality, safe, affordable and culturally sensitive education.

Policy endorsed: May 2018