The world we live in is constantly changing, and how and what we teach our children is also evolving.
Curriculum learning and teaching extends beyond the classroom, and the Australian education system is growing and evolving to meet the needs of the current and future generations of school goers.
As learning in primary school, secondary school, and tertiary education changes to comply with future needs, the role of teachers and educators must also change.
Students at every age should be encouraged to be innovative, be curious and to seize new opportunities.
In light of this shift in the Australian education system, teachers of the future, as well as students, need to be prepared for a whole new world of learning.
So, what does the future hold for the Australian education system? Let’s take a look below.
The key areas in Australian education
There are several key areas of education that are particularly important at this time and will continue to be in the years to come. Below we’ve detailed what these key areas are and discussed their impacts.
UNESCO estimates that at the end of 2020, more than 20 million children worldwide were impacted by pandemic-led school closures.
At the beginning of the pandemic, schools had to scramble to organise online learning systems, which have now become integral to how education is delivered to students.
Schools now have the opportunity to rebuild their organisations to be more resilient and inclusive to allow continuity of learning.
Vocational education and training did this well, as many training organisations were already set up for online learning to accommodate their international students.
Remote learning allows the teacher to establish a virtual connection with their students via online programs, as well as maintain continuity of learning during unexpected school closures.
In addition, it has become the preferred method of study for many in higher education. The flexibility allows those who are working or busy with family commitments to study around their own schedule.
One of the keys to the success of online or remote learning at every level is connection – that students feel connected to their teachers and classmates, despite the barrier of no in-person contact.
Establishing a workable routine for home learning and remote education is essential, as is input from parents and the wider community to share information and resources.
Safety and security
A safe and secure environment where students feel nurtured and supported is essential for positive education outcomes.
School safety and security refers to protecting the welfare of students, staff and the wider school community, as well as protecting property, resources and information.
The Queensland Government, at the state level, has numerous policies for facilitating and enforcing school safety and security, and at a local level, schools have various policies and procedures for creating a safe and secure environment.
Cyber security is crucial in schools to protect the wellbeing and safety of students and staff, and to protect private information.
Cyber security presents a number of challenges that schools need to be aware of and address.
Budget and resource constraints are a common issue as schools may need to hire additional staff or implement additional software systems to enhance cyber security.
Many schools utilise a ‘bring your own device’ program, which means additional measures for cyber security and programs to protect students from accessing inappropriate materials online is essential.
Mental health is an entire state of well-being where people can work to achieve their goals, meet their learning potential, cope with stress, and connect with a community of friends.
It is reported that 1 in 7 Australian youth experience mental illness.
Social isolation, loneliness and uncertainty due to COVID-19 has contributed to the decline in mental health for young people.
Schools are a natural setting to learn more about mental health and a place to help young people improve their health and wellbeing.
Prevention and early intervention programs within schools can help support students and reduce stigma around mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression.
Teachers need to be able to recognise mental health issues as they arise in the classroom and be equipped to guide students towards the right support systems.
As well as increasing students’ opportunities and positive choices in life, promoting mental health and wellbeing within schools helps students flourish in their education journey, build resilience, and gives them the skills and confidence to seek help when needed.
The key products in Australian education
When it comes to education, a few key products can make a world of difference. A few of the most important products and resources are listed below.
Virtual learning environment software
The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed online learning to the forefront of the education system.
Schools that were quick to respond to online learning have seen both the challenges and benefits online learning has brought about, and have innovated to incorporate these systems into their ongoing curriculum processes.
Virtual learning environment software – or virtual classrooms – have eclipsed video conferencing in terms of capabilities and connectivity for students and teachers.
These software platforms incorporate digital whiteboards, breakout rooms and moderated Q&As to keep students focused and engaged with their teachers and peers.
Many of these software platforms can be completely customised to a school’s brand, making the visual experience seamless for students and staff.
Virtual learning environment software makes it easier for students to learn and reduces learning gaps in the delivery of school curriculum.
Playground equipment, while often viewed only as ‘fun’ is actually crucial when it comes to developing children’s gross motor skills.
The ability for children to use the body’s large muscles to climb, jump, crawl, push, swing, pull or hang on monkey bars is essential for their physical development.
Playgrounds also present a safe space where kids can develop social, physical, emotional and imaginative skills that are necessary for self-confidence, improving coordination, and advancing critical thinking capabilities.
Not only do playgrounds bring a lot of happiness to children, but they also help them develop crucial life skills and enhance their physical development.
Learning to play a musical instrument is something that many children are encouraged to do.
It teaches children creativity, discipline and musical ability.
For kids, learning a musical instrument can help them to improve concentration, improve memory, develop a sense of responsibility, sharpen mathematical skills, build social skills, promote self-expression and teach determination.
The key industry issues in Australian education
When it comes to the Australian education system, there are some key issues and challenges that are having a huge impact on the industry at large.
In the public system, schools receive funding from both the federal and state governments, with the majority of funding coming from the respective state government.
For the private education system, schools also receive funding from the state and federal governments, as well as through school fees.
At a local level, lack of funding results in schools not being able to afford additional teachers, educational support staff and essential learning programs for students, which can negatively impact on learning and performance outcomes.
According to the Parliament of Australia, concerns about declining student performance and increasing inequality between the highest and lowest performing students are driving educational reform efforts.
Yet many say the 2011 Review of Funding for Schooling (Gonski review) and follow up report in 2018 started the conversation about school funding issues but have failed to make real and lasting change.
Australian students have slid down on the world rankings, and many schools still do not have the equipment or teachers they need, meaning that the learning gap between the most advantaged and disadvantaged students has grown.
The ‘business model’ Australia’s education system operates under – that treats students and parents as customers, and teachers as expendable workers – is resulting in a mass exodus from the profession.
This coupled with COVID-19 and vaccination-related work restrictions has meant that Australia is now experiencing a huge teacher shortage.
According to the University of Sydney, low completion rates of education degrees (fewer than 60% of those who started the degree) alongside rising child and youth demographic trends mean that many schools will find things even more difficult over the coming years.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics has predicted that Australia’s student population is set to rise by approximately 21% by 2030.
Yet, in Australia teachers suffer from poor professional status, poor pay and demanding workloads, meaning that the country is experiencing a teacher shortage like never before.
The pandemic provided an even bigger impact on teacher availability, with many teachers losing their jobs due to being unvaccinated, plus the challenges associated with teachers contracting COVID-19 and having to isolate have meant there are much fewer teachers available.
The education gap
According to Schools Plus, the education gap is the difference in achievement between students with varying levels of advantage throughout their development.
The key factors that influence the education gap are low socioeconomic status, First Nations background, regional or rural remoteness, language barriers and students with additional needs.
The Government’s Closing the Gap Implementation Plan provides a funding framework for the National Agreement – a partnership between the Australian Government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak organisations.
The Australian Government is investing over $1 billion toward closing the gap, which includes $122.6 million for early childhood measures and $126 million for school-based measures.
Being future ready starts today
More than ever before, education is evolving to include more than just reading, writing and arithmetic.
It has become much more about educating the whole person and preparing them for the real world – intellectually, physically, mentally and emotionally.
With new and evolving issues emerging all the time – from the pandemic to natural disasters – it’s important that our education system is providing a foundation for consistent, positive learning experiences.