Thursday, 19 December 2019 01:04

Parents say education system is ‘poor’ or has ‘room for improvement’

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Ninety per cent of parents consider Australia’s education system to be “poor” or having “room for improvement”, with more than one in three admitting they feel ill-equipped to support their child’s learning in the next decade, according to new research.

The research by online tutoring support company Cluey Learning follows the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) report, which reveals that Australian students are years behind the rest of the world in maths, reading and science.

The research found that when it comes to Australia’s global school education ranking, 38% of parents believe it will get worse in the next decade and close to half believe it will stay the same.

According to PISA there are now 10 countries with “significantly higher” results in reading than Australia, 23 in maths and 12 in science.

Despite the poor outlook, parents believe attending university will be key to a child’s success in the next ten years, making a solid school education all the more essential. Over half of parents said going to university will be as important as it is now and more than a quarter think it will become more important.

Chief Learning Officer at Cluey Learning, Dr. Selina Samuels, expects students and their parents will increasingly take educational matters into their own hands in the 2020s.

“A growing number of Australian families are no longer willing to rely purely on the government or the school system for solutions. We’re seeing a growing hunger for additional educational support across the country,” Dr Samuels said.

“Parents are worried that their children are getting lost in the system, with their individual learning needs going unmet. There seems to be greater awareness that the process of ‘learning to learn’ is more complex than we may once have believed and needs to be addressed throughout a child’s day-to-day life, not just at school.”

To mark the arrival of a new decade, Cluey Learning says it has launched 2020 Vision, a campaign which explores the future of education.

“In many ways, we're finishing the decade in the worst possible position, but often the most positive transformations come from a place of real need. The end of this decade presents a real opportunity for improvement. At a time of such uncertainty and poor public confidence in the education sector, it feels essential to offer a clear path forward and open dialogue about how we get to a better 2030,” Dr. Samuels explains.

Cluey Learning says that when it comes to students, over 60% of senior pupils say the schooling system is not doing enough to set them up for jobs of the future. Additionally, over 70% believe that schools aren’t fully addressing an unpredictable job market.

Students and parents believe that intelligence (IQ), emotional intelligence (EQ), social intelligence and adaptability (AQ) will all be essential qualities for a child’s success in the next decade, and Dr Samuels predicts that as technology redefines how we work, the lesser known adaptability quotient will be a key driver of career success.

“The idea of future-proofing children has never been more important. AQ involves mastering the ability to pivot and thrive in environments of fast and constant change,” Dr Samuels said.

With technology continuing to advance, workforce skillsets will be constantly evolving and shifting. We must help students hone their AQ abilities so they can face changes with confidence. Pure rote learning won’t set students up for success. Children need to become continuous learners who can adapt to a rapidly changing professional marketplace.”

Identifying other concerns, parents surveyed pointed to their child’s personal safety, both online and offline, as their biggest fear for the decade ahead, followed by lifestyle affordability.

And students rated the environment as their number one concern followed also by lifestyle affordability, while more students wished personal finance was a subject offered in school over sustainable living, mental health and coding basics.

On a lighter note, over 70% of senior students are convinced technology will have a positive impact on schools in the following ten years. Over the next decade, 74% of parents said learning time on devices should stay the same as now, steadily increase, or shift to all classwork being completed on devices.

Dr Samuels points out that the news is not all doom and gloom.

“Technology offers an exciting pathway to improvement which has huge potential to scale. We are starting to see the benefits of technology deployed as a vehicle for learning that can break down logistical barriers and enable education to be fully integrated into each student’s life,” Dr Samuels said.

“Artificial intelligence, which is really just getting started in education, offers a great opportunity to develop individual learning pathways and model the adaptability that will be needed for students to thrive in their professional lives.”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired and is a "volunteer" writer for iTWire. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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