Australian educational publishers welcome the Grattan Institute’s report, Ending the lesson lottery: How to improve curriculum planning in schools, particularly its emphasis on teachers’ needs for diverse and high quality classroom materials. But there are concerns about some of the recommendations.
Chief Executive of the Australian Publishers Association (APA), Michael Gordon-Smith says:
‘We’re grateful to the Grattan Institute for drawing attention to the importance of classroom materials. It is unfortunate some teachers can’t get easy access to the support they need when there is an abundance of high-quality materials, written and assessed by practising Australian teachers, published here in Australia.
If teachers are not getting access to the resources they need, there’s work to be done in connecting teachers, schools and curriculum bodies to educational publishers.
We support many of the report’s findings, but the recommendation that governments should immediately purchase digital classroom materials from overseas makes no sense.’
Arthur Baker, Managing Director, Oxford University Press for Australia & New Zealand, emphasised that:
‘Australian educational publishing is a highly skilled sector, drawing on the knowledge of leading and experienced teachers. Publishers invest tens of millions of dollars annually to develop world-class, digitally progressive planning, teaching, learning and assessment resources for Australian schools.’
Michael Gordon-Smith, added:
‘Many Australian teachers and schools already access and set Australian published materials as excellent as any in the world. Through one of the world’s best statutory licensing arrangements, Australian teachers can also copy the materials they want to use without the administrative burden of checking licences and permissions.
Education ministers should focus first on ensuring teachers have access to the excellent resources already available in Australia. Educational publishers would welcome the opportunity to sit down with curriculum planners across the nine different jurisdictions earlier in the process, to ensure the best possible materials are made available to teachers. That’s the model used in high-performing education systems like Singapore and Finland.’
Nicole McCarten, Vice President School Division for Nelson, also emphasised the importance of the links between schools and publishers:
‘Publishers spend considerable time and investment working with subject specialists and teachers to provide schools with curriculum aligned materials as part of a comprehensive teaching and learning solution. Schools and educators should be empowered to use these resources as they wish to deliver the best learning outcomes in their classroom.’
Just last month the Federal Minister for Education, Jason Clare MP, told attendees at the Educational Publishing Awards that:
“The Australian Publishers Association and its representatives are an integral part of Australia’s education system. Quality learning materials are vital tools that can boost learning experiences and support our fantastic students; whether that be a picture book for our littlest learners; a digital resource helping students through tough equations; or a university textbook that supports aspiring doctors, it’s you that deliver these vital tools.”
Subsequently, and in response to the Grattan report, the ABC reported that ‘Federal Education Minister Jason Clare said he was keen to discuss the report when he meets with state and territory counterparts in December. "If we get this right, this has the potential to really reduce the workload on teachers," he said.’
The APA is continuing to pursue the issue with both the MInister’s office and the Grattan Institute, who have responded to the concerns raised above with comments on The Educator website.