Why our schools are falling behind
Australia must look to streamline its curriculum, prioritise learning and enable teachers and schools to follow best practice if it is to learn from countries that have topped the international education report, experts say.
Monash University's Dr. Philip Wing Keung Chan - who recently returned from China which was a stand out alongside Singapore in the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) report - said Chinese teachers were freed up to help the weaker schools and often spent a long period of time to help raise the school scores.
"There are strict structures in place to level the disparity in education. They will send deputy principals from a good school to partner with a weak school and help raise the standard," said Dr Chan, who is writing a paper about the disparity in education development between Australia and China.
Dr Peter Goss, from the Grattan Institute, said Australia could learn from Singapore where there are dedicated career tracks for teachers.
"Australia needs to get dramatically better at identifying what is working in practice and spreading those effective teaching practices. And we need to be more systematic at using evidence about effective teaching," he said.
Dr Ben Jensen from Learning First, who has advised education systems in Australia and around the world on education strategy and implementation, school and system reform, said Australia needs to prioritise learning of the curriculum.
"We spend so much money and have so many programs for things that are not about learning of the curriculum. So our strategic focus is not as sharp as other countries," he said.
"And when it comes to the curriculum, the Australian curriculum is much more high-level than other countries. We don't supply the detailed curriculum materials to support teachers like other countries do. And we don't monitor enough of what is actually taught in classrooms."