With declining educational performance and a rapidly changing world demanding greater skills and resilience of the workforce, we must be open to new ideas for school education but we must also remember that a great deal of that learning occurs outside the classroom.

A vibrant, educated population will be our greatest asset in ensuring Australia’s future prosperity. It might be a cliché to say that education is society’s “great leveller” but it is also true. With Australia’s declining educational performance in areas such as reading, maths and science, evidence-based reforms to our education system will be an essential part of meeting this objective.

We need to shift our focus from arguments about funding models and classroom sizes, to a discussion about how we can fundamentally improve the way we deliver learning for kids, including embracing new forms of learning and better equipping teachers.

Early learning and primary schooling must set a strong foundation for all learners, while instilling community values, encouraging creativity and allowing kids to develop a love of learning. We must also recognise that intelligence and ability comes in many forms for kids. Kids who are successful in school, notwithstanding hard work, are predominately those who are traditional learners or academically inclined.We should offer a learning environment where they can be challenged and thrive.

However, it is equally important we value other forms of intelligence and ability offering those kids environments where they can also be challenged and thrive. This also requires educators to embrace multiple forms of learning. For example, inquiry based learning is widely acknowledged to be an effective teaching method for maths, but it’s relatively new and under-utilised in schools in Australia.

Being open to different styles of learning and experimenting with inquiry-based learning is a cultural shift we will need if we are to deliver better outcomes for kids in schools.

But it isn’t just the modes of learning or the way our schools operate that matters, creating a generation of “thriving” kids also means a focus on giving the parents of young people opportunities.

With declining educational performance and a rapidly changing world demanding greater skills and resilience of the workforce, we must be open to new ideas for school education but we must also remember that a great deal of that learning occurs outside the classroom.

Our kids are depending on us.

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