Labor Senators' additional comments

Labor Senators' additional comments

1.1The Albanese Labor Government is committed to driving real improvements in learning and wellbeing outcomes for school students.

1.2Labor Senators value the role of teachers and school leaders in Australian society and celebrate our teachers’ commitment to their students. We also note the complexities inherent in teaching in the twenty-first century.

1.3Labor Senators understand the importance of productive learning environments that support students to fully engage in their learning in order to meet their aspirations and achieve their potential. Further, they note Australian students’ reports of a decline in disciplinary climate between 2009 and 2018.[1]Classroom disruption can have a significant impact on student learning and negatively impact the experience of teachers and school staff.

1.4Labor Senators note that the causes of classroom disruption are complex and multifaceted, and may result from factors including availability of or support for teachers, classroom management practices, student background, or limited levels of effectively differentiated learning opportunities that lead to boredom and ‘acting out’.

1.5Labor Senators note the strong links between vaping, nicotine withdrawal and classroom disruption, and the fact that about one in six high school students are vaping.[2] The Minister for Health and Aged Care is leading strong action on behalf of the Government. On 6 July 2023, Education Ministers agreed to work with Health Ministers to combat vaping in schools.[3]

1.6Labor Senators are broadly supportive of many of the recommendations made in this report, and note the significant investments that have already been made to promote higher levels of engagement in Australian classrooms, including:

$3.5 million to the Australian Education Research Organisation (AERO) for the Engaged Classrooms initiative, to develop evidence-based tools, routines, strategies and approaches to support teachers in effectively managing classrooms;[4]

Almost $5 million to expand the Quality Teaching Rounds to an additional 1,600 teachers, providing support for teachers to collaboratively develop their classroom practice;[5]

More than $3 million to design and deliver free microcredential courses – vital professional development opportunities for school staff, teachers and school leaders, including in behaviour management; and[6]

$203.7 million to help young people in every classroom through the Student Wellbeing Boost, and $307.18 million for a new five-year Federation Funding Agreement to deliver the National Student Wellbeing Program.[7]

1.7Labor Senators note Recommendation 9 – which supports the implementation of a national Universal Student Identifier. A decision of the Australian Government made in 2009, significant progress was made on this matter in December 2022 when the Education Minister Meeting agreed to a model to roll-out the Unique Student Identifier (USI) to all school students nationally.[8]

1.8Understanding the links that may exist between students with disability and classroom engagement, Labor Senators note that the Albanese Labor Government is committed to driving action through Australia’s Disability Strategy 2021-2031 to build a more inclusive society. The strategy is Australia’s national disability policy framework, outlining the commitment made by all levels of government to work towards a unified, national approach to improving inclusion for people with disability. A key outcome area of the strategy is focused on education and learning, so that people with disability have access to education so they reach their full potential.

1.9Labor Senators note the findings of the Teacher Education Expert Panel which found that while there are great initial teacher education (ITE) programs nationally, too many beginning teachers have reported that they felt that they needed to be better equipped to work in a contemporary classroom.[9]‘Strong Beginnings’, the report of this panel recommended that initial teacher education programs embed Core Content in Classroom Management – rules and routines, proactive practices, managing behaviour, and whole-school behaviour frameworks.

1.10Labor Senators note that in response to ‘Strong Beginnings’, Education Ministers have agreed to ensure core content is embedded in all ITE programs before the end of 2025.[10]

1.11In recognition of the role of states and territories, and the Non-Government school sector play in the delivery of education, Labor Senators note the potential of the next intergovernmental schools agreement to build on the good work being done in Australian schools – particularly in the areas of equity and wellbeing.

1.12In preparation for this, Education Ministers have sought advice from the expert panel conducting Review to Inform a Better and Fairer Education System – whose terms of reference including advising on the targets and reforms that should drive real improvements in student outcomes, and how the next agreement can contribute to improving student mental health and wellbeing, and support schools to attract and retain teachers.[11] In its Consultation Paper, the expert panel noted that learning environment is a factor that impacts on student outcomes, including for students most at risk of falling behind.[12]

1.13Labor Senators anticipate that the next schools agreement will empower systems, schools, educators and communities through the reforms and targets that will make a difference to Australian students.

Senator Tony Sheldon

Deputy Chair

Senator Fatima Payman



[1]Thomson, S., De Bortoli, L., Underwood, C., & Schmid, M. (2019). PISA 2018: Reporting Australia’s Results, Volume II Student and School Characteristics, Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER), pp. 88–89.

[2]The Hon Mark Butler MP, Miniter for Health and Aged Care. Press Conference, 28 November 2023.

[3]Australian Government, Department of Education, Education Ministers Meeting Communique, 6 July 2023, 30 November 2023).

[4]The Hon Jason Clare MP, Minister for Education, ‘More support for teachers to manage the classroom’ Media Release, 2 May 2023.

[5]The Hon Jason Clare MP, Minister for Education and Sharon Claydon MP, Member for Newcastle, Expansion of Quality Teaching Rounds Program’ Media Release 27 July 2023.

[6]The Hon Jason Clare MP, Minister for Education, ‘Free short courses to help teachers in the classroom, Media release 21 September 2023.

[7]The Hon Jason Clare MP, Minister for Education ‘Half a billion dollar investment into student wellbeing, Media Release 2 February 2023.

[8]Australian Government, Department of Education, Education Ministers Meeting Communique, 15 December 2022, (accessed 30 November 2023).

[9]Australian Government Department of Education, Strong Beginnings: Report of the Teacher Education Expert Panel, (Accessed 30 November 2023)

[10]Australian Government, Department of Education, Education Ministers Meeting Communique, 6 July 2023 (Accessed 30 November 2023).

[11]Australian Government, Department of Education, Review to Inform a Better and Fairer Education System Terms of Reference (Accessed 30 November 2023).

[12]Australian Government, Department of Education, Better and Fairer Education System – Consultation Paper, (Accessed 30 November 2023).