Malcolm Turnbull’s attempts to replace Gonski after 2017 have descended into farce and he has no alternative but to listen to the states and territories and fund Gonski in full.
In the 11 months since Malcolm Turnbull and his Education Minister Simon Birmingham announced they wanted to replace Gonski, they have produced no detail as to how their new model would work, and have not convinced a single state government to support it.
That means not a single school in Australia knows what its budget will be in 2018.
The first three years of Gonski needs-based funding have made a huge difference to disadvantaged schools, but it’s clear there’s still a long way to go.
A new survey has exposed the reliance of schools on fundraising for necessities, as well as teachers working overtime and paying for school supplies out of their own pockets.
It’s not acceptable that schools are required to fundraise for everything from literacy and numeracy teachers to library books and computers.
By Shelby Papadopoulos, principal of Colac Primary School
Our first year of Gonski funding has shown how quickly even a small amount of extra resources can make a difference to a school that needs it.
At Colac Primary School we have been able to put our younger students on track for the rest of their school years by improving their literacy and speech.
But I’m left with a major concern. We know our programs are working, but we do not know if we will get funding we need beyond 2017 to keep expanding those programs so every child at the school who urgently needs speech, literacy or numeracy support can access it.
Students who struggle with literacy and numeracy, or who have a disability or learning difficulty, will suffer the most if Malcolm Turnbull scraps Gonski funding after 2017.
The finding comes from a survey of principals across Australia which found that 90 per cent of principals whose schools received Gonski funding reported it was making a ‘significant difference’ to their schools.
However only 19 per cent said the funding received so far was enough to meet the needs of all their students – and were concerned many students would continue to miss out if funding was stopped.
New international data has shown Australian schools are significantly under-resourced and this is affecting student performance.
The latest PISA and TIMSS figures show that more than half of Australian students are in schools where maths and science teaching are affected by a lack of resources.
What’s worse is that students from disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to be affected, with the most disadvantaged six times more likely to be in schools with shortages of qualified teachers or support staff.