Children in most states of Australia will return to schools next week that are benefiting from needs-based Gonski funding.
That’s the good news – that Gonski will be changing more lives than ever before and more students will be able to get the support they need to achieve their best.
The bad news is that funding for Gonski is not guaranteed beyond the end of the year, thanks to the federal government’s attempts to abandon needs-based funding.
By Peter Clifton, principal of Magpie PS, Victoria
Gonski funding can work wonders in a small school. I’m the principal of Magpie Primary School, a school with 88 students just outside Ballarat in regional Victoria.
In recent years the school has had a physical rebuild followed by a cultural one. Extra resources have let us create a school which puts learning first and is delivering real results in a low-SES area.
We’re not just about learning. We are a focus for the community and a place where kids get opportunities and experiences they wouldn’t otherwise get.
Thousands of students with disability will spend 2017 without the resources they need at school – due to the Federal Government’s refusal to properly fund disability.
Education Minister Simon Birmingham finally released data at the end of last year confirming that more than half of students with disability or learning difficulties who need funded support in our schools are not getting it.
Properly funding disability is a key part of the Gonski reforms. The current loadings simply do not reflect the huge numbers of students who need help and extra resources to succeed.
State and territory education ministers have stood up for Gonski at today’s Education Council meeting in Melbourne, rejecting Federal Government plans to scrap it after 2017.
But the Federal Government remains intent on pushing ahead with its plans, and aims to have a new deal approved at next year’s COAG meeting of state and territory leaders.
It is disappointing that the Federal Government continues to ignore the evidence that Gonski is working in our schools.
However state and territory support is important for securing the full six years of funding our schools need and sends a strong message to the Senate that it should not support any changes to legislation which would end needs-based funding.
The latest international PISA tests have made grim reading for Australia’s education system – but the biggest worry is that it has again exposed the inequities in our school system.
While Australia remains above the OECD average, it has continued its slide down the global rankings with our average scores for maths, science and literacy all declining.
Australia’s results remain divided by location and family background with gaps equivalent to three years of schooling between the most advantaged and disadvantaged students.
This is higher than the OECD average and exactly what the Gonski Review warned us of in 2012 when it noted our slipping PISA scores and stated that: “International evidence confirms that targeted investment in disadvantaged students is the most cost-efficient way to improve.”