National Report on Schooling in Australia 2011

National policy context

1.1 Educational goals

The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians articulates nationally consistent future directions and aspirations for Australian schooling agreed by all Australian Education Ministers.

The Melbourne Declaration has two overarching goals for schooling in Australia:

Goal 1 Australian schooling promotes equity and excellence

Goal 2 All young Australians become successful learners, confident and creative individuals, and active and informed citizens.

Commitment to Action

The Melbourne Declaration includes a Commitment to Action in the following eight interrelated areas in order to support the achievement of the educational goals:
  • developing stronger partnerships

  • supporting quality teaching and school leadership

  • strengthening early childhood education

  • enhancing middle years development

  • supporting senior years of schooling and youth transitions

  • promoting world-class curriculum and assessment

  • improving educational outcomes for Indigenous youth and disadvantaged young Australians, especially those from low socioeconomic backgrounds

  • strengthening accountability and transparency.

The Melbourne Declaration is supported by its companion document, the MCEETYA¹ four-year plan 2009–2012, which was endorsed by Education Ministers in March 2009. The plan identifies key strategies that Australian governments agreed to undertake in each area of action and is aligned with key Council of Australian Governments (COAG) and other national agreements. Progress in implementing these strategies is outlined in Part 2: National initiatives and achievements.

National Education Agreement

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) National Education Agreement² articulates the shared objective of Australian governments that all Australian school students acquire the knowledge and skills to participate effectively in society and employment in a globalised economy.

The agreement details the roles and responsibilities of the Australian Government and the States and Territories and a comprehensive and rigorous framework for performance reporting. These, along with agreed policy and reform directions, are designed to help in achieving the following outcomes:

  • all children are engaged in, and benefiting from, schooling

  • young people are meeting basic literacy and numeracy standards, and overall levels of literacy and numeracy achievement are improving

  • Australian students excel by international standards

  • schooling promotes social inclusion and reduces the education disadvantage of children, especially Indigenous children

  • young people make a successful transition from school to work and further study.

The reporting agreed by all governments includes the following elements:

  • streamlined and consistent reports on national progress, including an annual national report on the outcomes of schooling in Australia [this report] and the biennial COAG report Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage: Key Indicators

  • national reporting on performance of individual schools to inform parents and carers and for evaluation by governments of school performance

  • provision by schools of plain language student reports to parents and carers and an annual report made publicly available to their school community on the school’s achievements and other contextual information.

Under the provisions of the Schools Assistance Act 2008, the accountability framework for non-government schools and school systems is consistent with that of the NEA.

Achievement in 2011 against the NEA outcomes and indicators is reported in Education 2011: Comparing performance across Australia – Report to the Council of Australian Governments by the COAG Reform Council (CRC).

¹ The Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs (MCEECDYA) replaced the Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA) in July 2009.

² References and links to the National Education Agreement in this report are to the first agreement, which was in effect during the reporting year 2011. A revised NEA came into effect in July 2012.