Well, I'll be a stunned mullet! Fun facts and shocking statistics about Australian education that you've (probably) never heard before.

WOW! Here are some education statistics/findings that will surprise you - and hopefully shock Australian education policy makers into a re-think!

The last time I had a stunned mullet experience like this was at my first day on campus as a 29 year old “mature age student” in 1990 when I realised that only I, and one other mature-age student, had mullet haircuts (out of 120 students in our year). Despite the friendly sledging we endured from our fellow younger students we decided to maintain the mullets for the duration of the three-year course just to annoy everyone. We felt we were vindicated at our graduation dinner when it was announced we came “first” and “second” in our year. (Might be worth a research study: ‘Do mullets improve academic performance?’)

But here are some serious stats that will stun you in regard to Australian students' academic performances - and it has little to do with hairstyles (or bigger education budgets or starting school earlier or doing more homework or spending more hours in the classroom).

Prepare to be stunned.

• Australian students record the highest number of hours of classroom instruction time of any country in the OECD.

The total number of hours for an Australian student in primary and compulsory secondary schooling is 11,000 hours. Compare this with the country with the least instructional hours, Finland, where students will receive 6,327 hours of face to face learning in their compulsory years of schooling.

Stun fact: Finnish students significantly outperform Australian students in most measures of the OECD PISA tests despite having less than 60% of the learning time of Australian students.

• Australian class sizes are among the largest in the OECD.

Australia’s student-teacher ratio is higher than that of Finland and the OECD average, and the average class size in Australia is also much larger.

Stun fact: Finland was one of only seven countries where at least four out of five 15-year-old students demonstrated mastery of the baseline level of proficiency in all three literacies: Science, Reading and Mathematics. The others were Canada, Estonia, Hong Kong (China), Japan, Macao (China) and Singapore (OECD, 2016d, p. 4).

• In Australia, despite all our spending, we are not 'closing the gap'.

Australia’s results showed a significant difference between the performance of the top 10% and lower 10% of our students compared with Finland. The wide differential indicates lower equity in Australian students compared to other OECD countries.

The big question is: What should our education leaders learn from these facts?

James Phelps

Read the full report here: