We know Gonski is delivering results and new research has confirmed the importance of the full six years of Gonski funding to help disadvantaged students.
How else do we address the fact that one-in-five children arrives at school not ready to learn, and that these children are more likely to be from disadvantaged backgrounds?
This week is Gonski Week and the research by Victoria University’s Mitchell Institute, is a timely reminder of why we need to get funding to schools, and why we need to convince politicians that they must deliver the full six years of Gonski.
It found that disadvantage causes big gaps in achievement and this starts from the moment students begin school.
On top of that it found the effects of disadvantage had been compounded by pre-Gonski government policies that saw too much extra funding directed to private schools with no regard for student need.
This isn’t the first piece of research showing the links between disadvantage and poor outcomes at school, but it is the first Australian research that outlines of how disadvantage affects a child right from the day they start school, to their chances of finding work after they finish.
Read the summary below to see how big the impact of social disadvantage is
One-in-five children arrived at school without the skills needed to succeed in their learning, and that students from the poorest households were twice as likely not to meet those benchmarks.
Those students were then likely to struggle throughout Primary School with only half having caught up by Year 7 – including only a third of those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
By Year 7 28.4 per cent of students had not developed the core skills needed to succeed at school – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students were more than twice as likely to lack those skills.
40 per cent of students from disadvantaged backgrounds failed to complete Year 12 or its equivalent.
Only 56 per cent of young people obtain an ATAR score that gives them access to university, this is heavily linked to student background, with socio-economic status having a strong effect.
By the age of 24, 26 per cent of young people are not studying or working full-time, again this is linked to social disadvantage and poor outcomes at school
While the report showed the school system was working for the majority of students – who completed school and found work – there are many students who need extra support.
This is in line with the Gonski Review’s recommendations that the best use of education funding is to provide it to schools on the basis of need.
In fact the research said that one measure to address disadvantage could be “differential resourcing to provide schools serving larger numbers of disadvantaged students with the resources to address the more intensive educational needs of their students.”
Every day we are seeing more evidence that Gonski funding is the way forward for our schools.
Whether it is research like this, or the stories of individual schools which are already using the funding to benefit their students, schools are lifting results and overcoming disadvantage by using Gonski to cut class sizes, provide extra literacy and numeracy programs, employ support staff like speech therapists or offer more one-on-one support to students.
Gonski Week has seen schools across Australia show their support for needs-based funding, and highlight the benefits it’s already delivering.
New PM Malcolm Turnbull needs to decide whether he will abandon Tony Abbott’s cuts to Gonski and give schools the funding they needed to give all their students a quality education.
The current refusal by the Federal Government to fund the last two years of the agreements – when the majority of extra funding was to be delivered – will mean that many schools won’t get the resources they need.
If we are serious about giving students from disadvantaged backgrounds a fair go then the full Gonski is essential.