Analysis by state and territory governments has made it clear Malcolm Turnbull’s new schools funding model will short change disadvantaged schools and students by hundreds of millions of dollars.
Despite Malcolm Turnbull’s claims that his replacement for Gonski will deliver needs-based funding, he cannot guarantee that schools will reach the Schooling Resource Standard the Gonski Review recommended.
State governments want the federal government to honour the full six years of the Gonski agreements, and it becomes clear why when you see how much their schools are set to miss out on.
Losing these resources means schools would not be able to extend and maintain the support they are providing through Gonski. That means fewer literacy and numeracy programs for students, less one-to-one support in class and fewer extra services like speech pathology for students who need them.
Victoria’s Education Minister James Merlino has said that Victorian schools will be $630 million worse off in 2018 and 2019 than they would be if Malcolm Turnbull honoured the Gonski agreements in full. "This is about the students who need the most support, our most vulnerable kids. This is a betrayal of them," he said.
In South Australia, Education Minister Susan Close said the state’s schools would be $265 million worse off, receiving only $70 million of the $335 million in extra funding the Gonski agreements were due to deliver in 2018 and 2019. Minister Close said SA was delivering its share of increased funding under the Gonski agreement, and that Malcolm Turnbull should do the same.
Queensland’s Education Minister Kate Jones said her state’s schools would lose $300 million over the next ten years under the new plan. She said it was ‘not a better deal than the current deal that we've had in place now for four years’.
New South Wales
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian also indicated that she did not support Malcolm Turnbull’s new plan, because it would mean a significant loss of funding to NSW schools. The NSW Government is yet to release its calculations, but the loss is likely to be well over half of the $1.3 billion they are due to receive under Gonski in 2018 and 2019. Premier Berejiklian said: "NSW doesn't shy away from the fact we expect the original agreements and funding arrangements we signed up to be delivered.”
New Education Minister Sue Ellery has said that WA schools will be $93 million worse off in 2018 alone. This is despite the federal government’s claims that WA would be one of the winners under its new model.
The NT’s public schools get the worst deal of any school sector under the Turnbull plan. Their funding is due to increase by just 1.3% per year over the next ten years, lower than the inflation rate. This would be a terrible outcome for schools which have some of the highest levels of disadvantage in Australia. NT Education Minister Eva Lawler said the proposal ‘falls short of our current funding arrangement’
Tasmanian public schools will also be hard hit by the new model, and leaked figures show the state’s schools will lose $84 million in 2018 and 2019 compared to the Gonski agreements. This is a particular issue for a school system which has high levels of disadvantage.
Ending needs-based funding means disadvantaged students miss out
We can see a clear pattern: not only will each state be worse off, but that it is disadvantaged schools which will be the biggest losers.
That’s not a surprise. Under Malcolm Turnbull’s plan less than half of extra federal funding over the next ten years will go to public schools, compared to 80% under the Gonski agreements.
That’s because he wants to cap federal funding for public schools at 20% of the Schooling Resource Standard that the Gonski Review recommended. The rest of the funding is left for state governments, with no guarantees that any school will reach the minimum resource level.
That’s a big step away from the Gonski agreements which require state and federal governments to work together to make sure all schools have the resources they need.
The students who will miss out are likely to be those in our most disadvantaged schools who need extra help to achieve.
The AEU’s State of Our Schools survey for 2017 found that 84% of principals said that students who struggled with literacy or numeracy would miss out if Malcolm Turnbull failed to fund Gonski in full. 62% of principals said student with disabilities or learning difficulties would miss out.
These students will be the losers from Malcolm Turnbull’s failure to honour the full six years of the Gonski agreements.
Helping them would be a far better investment than the $48 billion Malcolm Turnbull wants to spend on company tax cuts.
Malcolm Turnbull has a better option: fund the Gonski agreements in full. This would deliver real needs-based funding and give all schools the resources their students need.
State Governments need to keep up their fight against Malcolm Turnbull’s cuts to schools, and ensure that our students get the best education possible.