New evidence shows that the Northern Territory Government has cut funding to its most disadvantaged schools and failed to pass on its Gonski funding in 2014.
It has cut per student funding by an average of 6.4%, with the biggest cuts hitting public schools in remote areas, and has removed 330 full-time teachers from its public schools.
Northern Territory students should have been big winners from Gonski. The Territory has high numbers of low-SES students, high numbers of Indigenous students and high numbers of schools in remote areas.
In fact, of the 100 most disadvantaged schools in Australia, 54 are in the NT. Additionally, 44 per cent of NT students live in remote or very remote locations, compared to 2.2 per cent nationally.
But instead of these schools getting the extra resources they need for their students, they are missing out on the benefits Gonski funding is already delivering in other States.
And the situation will get worse after 2017, with Malcolm Turnbull planning to cut Federal funding to Northern Territory public schools by $29 million over two years – despite their high levels of need.
High-need public schools lose funding and teachers
An analysis of My School data, conducted for the Australian Education Union, found that:
- There was a 6.4% overall reduction in average per-student recurrent funding from the NT Government across all schools between 2012 and 2014.
- Public schools were worst hit, losing 6.7%, or an average of $992 per student, while Catholic and Independent schools saw funding increase
- Schools in very remote areas were worst hit, losing 12.5% of their per-student funding. Schools in remote areas lost 7.5%, while schools in greater Darwin lost 1.5%
- NT public schools have lost over 330 full-time teaching positions between 2012 and 2015 (13 per cent of the total) leading to higher student/staff ratios across the board.
- Schools have also lost 116 other full-time staff including teacher aides.
Even when the Federal Government’s contribution is taken into account the situation remains the same – overall funding for schools is down by 2.9%, with public schools losing funding and private schools gaining. Again the hardest hit schools are those in remote areas.
This is a major concern for equity because these schools are more likely to be teaching low-SES and Indigenous students, as well as dealing with the extra cost of employing staff in remote areas.
The NT’s public schools have twice the proportion of low-SES students as private schools, and educate the vast majority of Indigenous students.
Achievement gaps in the NT are huge and cutting funding to the neediest schools will only make them even more stark.
NT Government must be accountable
This mess is what happens when the Federal Government fails to hold a State or Territory Government accountable for ensuring Gonski funding goes directly to schools.
The current Government has failed the NT’s most disadvantaged students and taken away their chance of a successful future.
NT students have missed out worth of extra resources which could have provided smaller classes, more one-to-one support and extra literacy and numeracy programs.
The Northern Territory’s local election will be held on Saturday, August 26th.
We need whoever wins to bring in real needs-based funding for schools in the NT, and ensure that every cent of Gonski funding is passed on to schools next year.
We also Malcolm Turnbull to scrap his plan to cut funding to the NT’s public schools and to fully fund the six years of Gonski funding NT students need.