The first three years of Gonski needs-based funding have made a huge difference to disadvantaged schools, but it’s clear there’s still a long way to go.
A new survey has exposed the reliance of schools on fundraising for necessities, as well as teachers working overtime and paying for school supplies out of their own pockets.
It’s not acceptable that schools are required to fundraise for everything from literacy and numeracy teachers to library books and computers.
We need the full six years of Gonski funding to ensure that all schools get the basics as a matter of course and don’t have to rely on the financial efforts of parents and teachers to get students the resources they need.
That’s why Malcolm Turnbull needs to abandon his plans to cut Gonski after 2017 and give schools the full six years of increased resources they need.
Teachers and principals should be spending all their time on the education of their students, not working out how many barbeques they need to organise and run to pay for a literacy and numeracy program.
Parents and teachers paying for essentials
The Australian Education Union’s State of Our Schools survey for 2017 found that 83% of public schools use fundraising to add to their budgets, and that 90% of principals who fundraise describe it as ‘important’ or ‘very important’
The survey showed that fundraising was being used for school essentials: with 50% of schools using it for computer hardware or software, 45% for sports equipment, 43% for library resources or textbooks and 26% of schools for basic maintenance on school infrastructure.
Reliance on fundraising not only lets governments off the hook, but it can create more inequities in schools funding. Schools in wealthier areas were more likely to fundraise, because their parents had a greater ability to raise funds.
The survey also found that 95% of teachers spent their own money on school supplies, with more than half spending $500 of their own money each year on classroom basics, and 10% spending over $2000.
The most common items they spent money on were stationery (78%), classroom supplies (75%) and library resources (43%).
Key findings of the survey, which was completed by 1428 principals and 7513 teachers, include:
83% of schools engage in fundraising, and 90% of those say it is ‘important’ or ‘very important’ for their annual budgets.
65% of teachers said their school was under-resourced, while only 5% said it was well-resourced.
95% of teachers spend their own money on school supplies, with 50% spending more than $500 each year and 10% spending over $2000.
More than half of full-time teachers work over 50 hours per week on school-related activities, while 29% work over 55 hours per week.
75 per cent of teachers believe their workload is increasing.
The increasing hours teachers are working remains a concern – because this a key reason ex-teachers give for leaving the profession.
However it is clear that full Gonski funding will address some of the concerns of teachers.
When asked what could help lift results for students teachers said: smaller classes (48%), additional support for students with disability (44%) and extra in class assistance (33%) as the main things that would improve results for their students.
These are all things that Gonski funding is already delivering and that we will see more of if Malcolm Turnbull funds the full six years of Gonski.
We can’t leave our schools dependent on fundraising to stretch their budgets as they try and give every child the support they need.