The Turnbull Government’s attack on needs-based funding has continued with a new scheme to shift funding between States, while sticking to its plan to deny schools $3.8 billion in Gonski funding in 2018 and 2019 alone.
The Coalition’s plan to favour private schools after 2018 has already been exposed but Education Minister Simon Birmingham is now saying he wants to end State-based agreements and move to a one-size-fits-all model which will leave some States worse off.
Minister Birmingham will meet his State and Territory counterparts in Adelaide tomorrow to discuss funding after 2017.
It is now more important than ever that States stand firm for Gonski and resist Minister Birmingham’s divide and conquer tactics.
The call for what he describes as a “simpler, fairer” system is a distraction from $3.8 billion in lost funding, and the fact that the Federal Government wants to give 62% of extra federal funding after 2017 to private schools, regardless of their need.
Details are still sketchy but the Coalition wants to shift funding so States get more and some get less. We already know from the Federal Budget papers that the Coalition wants to cut funding to public schools in Tasmania and the NT after 2017, regardless of their high need.
It is likely that NSW and Queensland will also have funding taken from them to shift to other States.
Pitting one state against another will do nothing to lift results in schools – what we need is to lift our overall investment in schools and target it at addressing disadvantage.
How will shifting funds from one State to another lift results across Australia? It will only add another layer of uncertainty to schools funding after 2017.
We need the full Gonski
Minister Birmingham says that the different agreements with each State have ‘corrupted’ Gonski.
That is clearly not the case.
In States where Gonski funding is flowing directly to schools, it is clearly giving more resources to disadvantaged schools and allowing them to offer more help to their students.
The key issue is that no State or Territory has yet reached the minimum resourcing standards for schools that were outlined in the Gonski report.
That is because under the Gonski agreements, two-thirds of the extra funding to schools was to be delivered in 2018 and 2019. We don’t need to reinvent Gonski, we need to fund it in full.
States like WA and the NT which have failed to pass on extra funding to students have been able to do because the agreements they signed were not able to be enforced by the Federal Government.
Without the final two years of Gonski no State or Territory will be able to fully fund its schools on the basis of student need and some students will miss out.
The Gonski agreements were for a six-year transition period to get all schools to a minimum resource standard, with a focus on directing extra funding to disadvantaged schools.
Each State started from a different point and has a different capacity to raise its own funds and the agreements reflect that.
We need them to be funded in full, not a shift to a system which effectively ends needs-based funding and abandons disadvantaged schools.
States must oppose Turnbull’s flawed plan
The Coalition’s plan has been analysed by funding expert Dr Jim McMorrow who found that there was ‘no educational rationale’ for the Turnbull Government's education funding plan and it had ‘abandoned the Gonski schools funding model without any rational alternative’.
The analysis also found that, after inflation, average per student funding to public schools (before any redistribution between States) would increase by just 1.8% in 2018/19 and 2.1% in 2019/20.
The analysis found this tiny amount is not enough to pay for a single extra teacher in a public school with 500 students.
States and Territories need to stand up for Gonski and reject the Turnbull plan to end needs-based funding.
If you support Gonski then sign the petition today and let education ministers know they must stand up for our kids.