Building the Education Revolution
In 2008–09, the Australian Government committed $16.2 billion in funding over four years to provide new facilities and refurbishments in Australian schools to meet the needs of 21st century students and teachers through the Building the Education Revolution (BER) program.
The BER is the single largest element of the Australian Government’s $42 billion Nation Building – Economic Stimulus Plan, providing economic stimulus by supporting jobs and infrastructure projects to modernise schools in communities across Australia.
BER funding has been allocated for nearly 24,000 projects in approximately 9,500 schools under the three elements of the BER¹:
1. $14.1 billion Primary Schools for the 21st Century (P21), funding 7,917 schools for 10,471 projects, including new libraries, multipurpose halls, classrooms and the refurbishment of existing facilities
2. $821.8 million Science and Language Centres for 21st Century Secondary Schools (SLC), funding 537 schools for refurbishment or construction of new science laboratories or language learning centres
3. $1.28 billion National School Pride (NSP) program, funding 9,461 schools for 12,628 projects, including the refurbishment of buildings and construction or upgrade of fixed shade structures, covered outdoor learning areas, sporting grounds and facilities and green upgrades.
All education authorities had received their BER funding by December 2011.
Through the BER, the Commonwealth aims to:
provide economic stimulus through the rapid construction and refurbishment of school infrastructure
build learning environments to help children, families and communities participate in activities that support achievement, develop learning potential and bring communities together.
The BER is underpinned by a strong partnership approach between the Australian, State and Territory governments and non-government education authorities.
The Commonwealth, States, Territories and Block Grant Authorities (BGAs) agreed to work in partnership to deliver the BER in accordance with:
the National Partnership Agreement on the Nation Building and Jobs Plan: Building Prosperity for the Future and Supporting Jobs Now, Bilateral Agreements on the Nation Building and Jobs Plan that the Commonwealth has with each State and Territory
the Funding Agreements supporting the Building the Education Revolution: the National Partnership Agreement on Nation Building and Jobs Plan (BGA Funding Agreement) with each BGA.
In addition, the Commonwealth, State, Territory and BGA responsibilities are set out in the program guidelines.
Online Diagnostic Tools initiative
In 2010, the Australian Government announced the Online Diagnostic Tools (ODT) initiative. Through the ODT the Government is investing $54.3 million from 2010–11 to 2015–16 to deliver the initiative, which has three parts:
tools to help teachers assess student progress linked to the Australian Curriculum and address individual learning needs
development and trialling of online delivery of national tests within the National Assessment Program (NAP) under the direction of the Standing Council on School Education and Early Childhood (SCSEEC)
assessment and homework resources for parents to use to help them support their child’s learning at home.
In December 2011, an enhanced version of the online learning tool ‘Improve’ was made available nationally to all teachers through the ODT initiative. ‘Improve’ provides teachers with access to ready-made standard test items in key learning areas, empowering them to monitor student progress and cater for individual learning needs. It also enables teachers to create their own tests and quizzes. The tool supports differentiated learning by providing students with links to online learning activities based on their individual results in tests or quizzes. The tool also measures students’ confidence in their answers. This helps teachers better understand individual student performance, and can also indicate the degree to which entire cohorts of students are ‘confident’ with ideas and concepts. The enhanced version of ‘Improve’ has the technical capacity to support 200,000 users (teachers and students) through Scootle and jurisdiction portals.
Work on the ODT initiative, including the development and trialling of online assessment for national tests within the NAP, will continue beyond 2011.
¹ Data are at 31 December 2011.