School teachers will be armed with the latest research about how to help their students learn under a federal Labor government.
Opposition education spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek announced on Friday Labor will set up an Evidence Institute for Schools at a cost of $280 million over a decade.
The institute, similar to bodies in the UK, US, Denmark, Norway and Canada, will be charged with commissioning new research on educational methods and helping teachers and schools stay up to date with the latest and best practices.
“This is about ensuring we have the right research to inform teachers, and to help them refine and improve what they do together in schools, and individually in the classroom,” Ms Plibersek said.
“Just as doctors draw on the best new research when they are deciding how to treat their patients, we want to better support teachers to do the same for their students.”
Labor points out the government spends about $20 million a year on grants for educational research compared with about $600 million a year for medical research.
The Productivity Commission found last year there were large gaps in the evaluation of which policies and practices actually worked best in classrooms.
Labor’s new institute would be independent of government.
“Politicians shouldn’t tell teachers how to do their jobs, or be using schools as an ideological battleground,” Ms Plibersek said.
The approach is similar to a recommendation researchers at the Grattan Institute made last weekend for an independent research body.
The think tank warned the federal government needed to resist the temptation to intervene excessively in school education, saying attaching too many strings to funding given to states could actually be counterproductive when trying to lift student achievements.
The federal government has commissioned businessman David Gonski to lead a review of how to get the best bang for buck from its extra funding for schools.
His panel will report in March, but the government is already pushing for states to sign up to a number of measures including new phonics tests for Year One students.