National Report on Schooling in Australia 2013

Part 1: National policy context

1.0 Overview

Within Australia's federal system, constitutional responsibility for school education rests predominantly with the Australian states and territories ¹. The six state and two territory governments and the Australian Government have cooperated to develop and work towards agreed goals for improving the educational outcomes for all young Australians.

In Australia, joint decisions on shared priorities and agreed national initiatives are made through intergovernmental policy councils. For education in 2013, these councils are the Standing Council on School Education and Early Childhood (SCSEEC), the Standing Council on Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment (SCOTESE), and the Council of Australian Governments (COAG).


The COAG Standing Council on School Education and Early Childhood (SCSEEC) was established in January 2012, replacing the previous Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs (MCEECDYA) as the Ministerial Council with responsibility for schooling ².

Membership of the Standing Council comprises state, territory, Australian Government and New Zealand ministers with responsibility for the portfolios of school education, early childhood development and youth affairs.

SCSEEC’s areas of responsibility include:

• primary and secondary education
• youth affairs and youth policy
• cross-sectoral matters including transitions and careers
• early childhood development including early childhood education and care.

SCSEEC provides a forum through which strategic policy on school education and early childhood development can be coordinated at the national level and is responsible for overseeing progress towards the Melbourne Declaration on the Educational Goals for Young Australians.


In 2013, the COAG Standing Council on Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment (SCOTESE) ³ is responsible for higher education, vocational education and training, international education, adult and community education and employment. Its membership comprises ministers responsible for these portfolios in all jurisdictions.


The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) is the peak intergovernmental forum in Australia. Its members are the Prime Minister, state premiers, territory chief ministers and the president of the Australian Local Government Association.

COAG’s National Education Agreement includes a set of nationally agreed objectives, outcomes, targets and performance indicators to guide education reform across the country. It is one of six national agreements that seek to drive COAG’s national reform agenda and to improve service delivery across the country.

SCSEEC and SCOTESE are standing councils of COAG.

¹ New South Wales (NSW), Victoria (Vic.), Queensland (Qld), South Australia (SA), Western Australia (WA), Tasmania (Tas.), Northern Territory (NT) and Australian Capital Territory (ACT).

² In this report, contemporary references to the council of Australian education ministers are to SCSEEC. Historical references are to MCEECDYA, or to its predecessor until July 2009, the Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA). In July 2014 SCSEEC was replaced by the COAG Education Council.

³ In 2014 SCOTESE was replaced by the COAG Industry and Skills Council.

Back to top