Labor has announced it will fund the full six years of Gonski if it wins this year’s Federal Election.
The announcement puts the pressure on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to match it and to commit to investing in our schools so they can give our children a quality education.
We know that Gonski funding is working by lifting student results and helping thousands of students at risk of falling behind.
In the States where Gonski funding is being delivered directly to schools extra resources are beingused to provide smaller classes, more one-to-one support, targeted literacy and numeracy programsand extra services such as speech therapy.
It’s a vital investment in ensuring students can reach their potential and that they leave school with the skills they need for work.
That’s why we need all political parties to commit to the full six years of extra funding that the Gonski Review recommended.
We need to correct past imbalances in funding and ensure that disadvantaged schools get the resources they need to educate their students.
Labor leader Bill Shorten said today that: “Every Australian child should have the same chance of succeeding at school as any other kid in the country – no matter their background, no matter where they live, and no matter what type of school they go to.”
Labor says it will fund the estimated $4.5 billion cost of the last two year of Gonski through increases in the tobacco excise, tightening superannuation concessions, a crackdown on multinational tax avoidance and scrapping a new $1000 baby bonus for couples with a stay-at-home parent.
The policy was welcomed by the Australian Education Union, and groups representing Catholic and Independent school – showing the broad support for needs-based funding across the education sector.
It’s now up to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to decide whether he will back Gonski in full and offer bi-partisan support for proper funding for all Australian schools.
He can no longer simply continue Tony Abbott’s policy of saying No to Gonski.
He has a stark choice to make: continue to fund programs we know are working and lift all schools to the level of resourcing they need, or refuse to fund the full six years of Gonski and abandon our most disadvantaged schools.
Failing to fund the last two years of Gonski would mean that no school would get the benefit of the two years when the majority of funding increases were due to be delivered, and that no public school would be funded according to need.
There’s still time for the Turnbull Government to commit to Gonski, but the initial reaction of Education Minister Simon Birmingham was disappointing.
He gave no sign that the Turnbull Government would consider questioned the need for extra funding, saying it would not make a difference to results.
Not only does this demonstrate a huge ignorance of what schools have achieved with their Gonski resources, it contradicts his comments from last December where he admitted that many schools were doing “great things” with their Gonski resources.
The education of our children is too important to be a partisan political issue. We need Malcolm Turnbull to back the full Gonski, not just stick to Tony Abbott’s policy of ending needs-based funding after 2017 and cutting real funding to schools.
This election will be a Gonski election, and we will keep the pressure on Malcolm Turnbull to ensure that he backs his talk about creating an innovative nation by giving our children the education they need.