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New approaches to create smart schools in Australia

students Source: SBS

The federal government is spending more money on education than ever before - but students' results aren't improving.

The federal government is spending more money on education than ever before - but students' results aren't improving.

In some cases, they're getting worse.

Experts say new approaches need to be tested in the classroom - something one primary school has enthusiastically taken on board.

The kindy (kindergarten) class at Anzac Park Public School in Sydney's North is unusual.

On sunny days the students sit outside - they are rarely behind a desk - and core subjects like mathematics are taught through coding.

(reporter) "This is a pretty comfy chair you've got here."

(student 1) "Yes because it's a bean bag chair."

(reporter) "And do you always go for the bean bag chairs?"

(student 1) "Yeah."

(student 2) "We do lego."

(reporter) "What do you do with the lego?"

(student 2) "You make it move by connecting it to the iPad."

Anzac Park Public opened earlier this year.

School principal Unity Taylor-Hill says innovation is a key focus - "As a new school we've been able to embrace the best of education, the best of what research is telling us is going to make the big impact on learning and literacy and numeracy.  But we're able to combine that with a focus on the future."

The new approach was a big drawcard for parent Wes Shaw, whose daughter Olivia is in kindergarten - "It seems to be the environment allows them to grow and learn the way they need to, instead of being the one rigid way through - which is fantastic."

Schools like Anzac Park Public are abandoning traditional teaching models.

An education expert at the University of Canberra, Dr Iain Hay, says that's necessary to fill the jobs of the future - "Children are accessing knowledge and information at much faster rates than ever before, and it is important that the schooling process, and education in general, allows children to develop the skills, or what we regard as the new basics."

In its latest report, the Productivity Commission also recommended new approaches be tried to boost student performance.

It found over the past ten years government spending has increased by 24 per cent across Australian schools; that's 14 per cent per student.

But results have stagnated.

Principal Taylor Hill says the teachers at Anzac Park are working towards a solution, while having plenty of fun along the way - "We have an outward-facing and future focus here at Anzac Park.  What we're doing is we're identifying what skills the workforce of the 21st century needs. We believe that students need to have skills in creative thinking. We need them to be able to problem-solve. We need them to be able to collaborate and work as a team and by being able to provide learning experiences and facilitate learning that promotes creativity and critical thinking and those problem-solving skills, we believe they will equip our students to be workforce-ready."

Career expert Naishadh Gadani agrees that innovative approaches to STEM learning, executed in a fun and balanced way, can prepare today's students for the jobs of the future!

Naishadh Gadani
Naishadh Gadani
naishadh gadani