After leaving the Digital Technologies Curriculum languishing on his desk for almost two years, Christopher Pyne has finally endorsed it, in a move which is more about clearing his “to-do” list than supporting the teaching of coding in schools.

The Digital Technologies curriculum was developed by the Australian Curriculum and Reporting Authority (ACARA) in 2013, with its content agreed to by the state and territory education ministers – only to be stalled by Christopher Pyne’s discredited curriculum review.

Shadow Education Minister Kate Ellis said that Christopher Pyne was more interested in his political career than in equipping students with the skills of the future.

“Christopher Pyne has dragged his feet on endorsing the Digital Technologies Curriculum until possibly his last minute as Education Minister, showing he simply doesn’t treat it as a priority,” Ms Ellis said.

“Skills in STEM and coding are too important to leave to the bottom of the list. That’s why Labor has a real plan to equip students with the skills of the future.

“Three out of four jobs in the fastest growing industries will need knowledge in science, technology, engineering and maths, and Labor’s plan for the future puts these skills front and centre.

“Labor will upskill our teachers and get more kids studying coding, computational thinking, science and maths in primary school, secondary school, and university. 

“Unlike Christopher Pyne, we are serious about making sure our children are equipped with the skills they need to succeed in the high-tech jobs which are so vital to Australia’s future.”

A Shorten Labor Government will:

  • Work with states and territories, schools systems and the Australian Curriculum and Reporting Authority (ACARA) to ensure all students get the opportunity to learn coding;
  • Invest $9 million to establish a National Coding in Schools center (NCIS) so teachers in Australia have the opportunity to develop their skills, which will collaborate and link with industry and experts to develop the materials and content to support coding in schools;
  • Establish a STEM teacher training fund to support 25,000 primary and secondary school teachers over five years to undertake professional development in STEM disciplines;
  • Encourage STEM graduates to teach, by offering 25,000 Teach STEM scholarships over five years to recent STEM graduates, to address the shortage of qualified teachers. Recipients will get $5000 when they commence a teaching degree, and $10,000 when they complete their first year of teaching; and
  • Provide 100,000 STEM Award university degrees for students which fully write off their HECS debts on completion – 20,000 a year for five years.