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.”
Gonski needs-based funding is delivering great results in our schools, but its future is at risk from Malcolm Turnbull’s cuts.
Our state and territory leaders need to stand up for needs-based funding and tell Turnbull that cuts to Gonski are not acceptable.
If we lose Gonski, our schools will miss out on $3.8 billion in extra resources in 2018 and 2019 alone.
By Jeff Ward, principal of Sanctuary Point Public School
Sanctuary Point PS is a great example of how a school, supported by Gonski funding, can help turn around a community.
We are a low-SES school of 500 students on the NSW south coast, which has lifted results and our engagement with our families and community.
All the research shows that about 50 per cent of student performance is determined by parents and family, so if you only focus on what happens in the classroom, you’re missing a lot of opportunities for your students.
By Rebecca Hack, principal of Berserker Street State School, Rockhampton
At Berserker Street State School we don’t give up on any child, and we don’t expect any government to give up on the Gonski funding we need.
Disadvantage isn’t spread evenly across our society or our school system, and schools like ours have had to become experts at dealing with clusters of extreme disadvantage.
We need to do things differently, and with the help of extra resources we have created a program that is letting kids thrive.
NSW has always led the way on Gonski funding and its schools will receive another $219 million in Gonski funding in 2017, the Baird Government has announced.
This will allow schools to build on what Gonski is already achieving, through smaller classes, more one-to-one support and extra programs for kids who need them.
But schools won’t have certainty beyond next year, with Malcolm Turnbull wanting to scrap Gonski funding, a move that would cost NSW schools $1.4 billion in 2018 and 2019 alone.