National Report on Schooling in Australia 2012

National policy context

1.1 Educational goals

The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians¹ sets the directions for Australian schooling for the ten-year period 2009–18 agreed by all Australian Education Ministers.

The Melbourne Declaration has two overarching educational goals² for young Australians:

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

National Education Agreement

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) National Education Agreement (NEA)³ 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 sets out conditions for the provision of Commonwealth school education funding to the Australian states and territories for the period 2009–13. It details the roles and responsibilities of the Australian Government and the states and territories, and a framework for performance reporting. These, along with agreed policy and reform directions, are designed to contribute to 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 educational disadvantage of children, especially Indigenous children
• young people make a successful transition from school to work and further study.

The performance reporting framework 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 (the National Report on 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 with details as agreed by SCSEEC in March 2009
• 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 and regulations, the accountability framework for non-government schools and school systems is consistent with that of the NEA for the government school sector.

Achievement in 2012 against the NEA outcomes and indicators is reported in Education in Australia 2012: Five Years of Performance – Report to the Council of Australian Governments by the COAG Reform Council (CRC).


¹The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians (2008) replaced the National Goals for Schooling in the Twenty-First Century (the Adelaide Declaration, agreed in 1999), which itself superseded the original National Goals for Schooling in Australia (Hobart Declaration, agreed in 1989).

² For a full explanation of the goals, see the Melbourne Declaration, pp. 6–9.

³ References and links to the National Education Agreement in this report are to the revised agreement, which came into effect in July 2012.