The second Gonski Review runs the risk of being hamstrung by the decision of the Federal Government to prevent it from considering school funding.
The Review, which will again be chaired by business leader, David Gonski, has been established to look at strategies to improve educational outcomes. It will report in March next year.
Education Minister Simon Birmingham said the Review panel would not consider school funding levels because they had already been determined in the Turnbull Government’s controversial plan finalised last month.
Australian Education Union Federal President Correna Haythorpe said the Federal Government should reconsider the decision to stop the panel looking at funding.
“This panel cannot solve the problems facing our most vulnerable and disadvantaged students if it is explicitly prevented from considering school funding,” said Ms Haythorpe.
“The Turnbull Government repeatedly stated it would not set funding first and seek to negotiate outcomes later, yet this is exactly what it is doing.
“There is a direct link between the resources our schools receive and student outcomes – however this panel is only permitted to consider one side of this story.”
The Turnbull school funding plan involves tearing up agreements with five state and territory governments and cutting $3 billion in funding due to be delivered in the next two years.
Instead the Federal Government will provide a fixed proportion of funding to public and private schools.
By the end of 2023, public schools will be receiving 20% of their public funding entitlement (measured by a Schooling Resource Standard) and private schools 80%.
Ms Haythorpe said that plan would still see public schools in six states and territories still under-resourced in 2023.
“The Government have already arbitrarily decided to limit Federal funding to 20 per cent of the Schooling Resource Standard for public schools – meaning that whatever
recommendations this panel makes, many of our schools will still be severely under resourced even after six years,” she said.
“Under the Government’s plan, not only will schools in the areas of highest disadvantage, such as Northern Territory and Tasmania, receive the lowest increases in funding but they fall well short of what would be provided to some of the richest schools in the nation.”
The terms of reference for the Review say it will focus on the “effective and efficient use of funding” to:
Improve student outcomes and Australia's national performance, as measured by national and international assessments of student achievement.
Improve the preparedness of school leavers to succeed in employment, further training or higher education.
Improve outcomes across all cohorts of students, including disadvantaged and vulnerable students and academically-advanced students (‘gifted’ students).
To support these recommendations, the Review will also:
Provide advice on related institutional or governance arrangements to ensure the ongoing identification and implementation of evidence based actions to grow and sustain improved student outcomes over time.
Propose related transparency and accountability measures that support the effective monitoring, reporting and application of investment.
The members of the panel conducting the review are:
Mr David Gonski AC (Chair)
Dr Ken Boston AO
Mr Terrey Arcus AM
Ms Valerie Gould
Ms Wendy Johnson
Dr Lisa O’Brien
Dr Lee-Anne Perry AM
Mr Michael Roberts
More details on the background of each panel member are available here.