Gonski cuts hurt strugglers

LeFevre2_(002).jpgStudents who struggle with literacy and numeracy, or who have a disability or learning difficulty, will suffer the most if Malcolm Turnbull scraps Gonski funding after 2017.

The finding comes from a survey of principals across Australia which found that 90 per cent of principals whose schools received Gonski funding reported it was making a ‘significant difference’ to their schools.

However only 19 per cent said the funding received so far was enough to meet the needs of all their students – and were concerned many students would continue to miss out if funding was stopped.

That’s another argument for funding the full six years of Gonski. The funding is urgently need so that all schools have the resources they need to support all their students.

Sadly, these arguments are being ignored by Malcolm Turnbull, who continues to push ahead with his plan to scrap Gonski after 2017, regardless of the success it is delivering.

He needs to listen to principals, who told the AEU’s State of Our Schools survey that Gonski funding was needed to support the most vulnerable students at their schools.

When the State of Our Schools survey asked public school principals which groups of students would miss out if Gonski funding was not continued in 2018 and 2019 they said:

  • Students who have fallen behind in literacy and/or numeracy (84% of principals named this group)

  • Students with a disability or learning difficulties (62% named this group)

  • Students who are disengaged or at risk of dropping out of school (43% named this group)

  • Students who need specialist support (27% named this group)

  • Gifted and Talented students (24% named this group)

Funding changes lives

Gonski funding is turning lives around and lifting results for students across Australia. It is doing this because it is targeted at the schools and students who need support the most.

We know that students who need it are receiving more in-class support, extra help in literacy and numeracy, and support from specialists such as speech pathologists.

Schools are reporting great results from this, but many will need the full six years of funding to ensure every student who needs this help can get it.

Why would Malcolm Turnbull want to stop this from happening?

His plan to stop Gonski at the end of this year will cost schools $3.8 billion in extra resources which are due to be delivered through the Gonski agreements.

The “State of Our Schools” survey, of 1428 principals across Australia, also found high class sizes, growing staff shortages in schools across Australia, and principals having difficulty filling maths, science and technology teaching positions.

Other key findings of the survey include:

  • 67% of schools are receiving Gonski funding directly and 90 per cent of those principals say it is making a significant difference. This figure rises to 94% of principals whose schools receive more than $200,000 in additional funding.

  • No principals in WA or the NT reported receiving Gonski funding, due to the refusal of previous state governments to pass these vital resources on to schools.

  • Only 19% of principals whose schools have received Gonski funding say it is enough to meet their needs.

  • The three main uses for Gonski funding are: extra student support staff, 54%, professional development for teachers, 51%, and extra specialist literacy and numeracy teachers or coaches, 47%.

  • 46% of principals say their schools are under-resourced or significantly under-resourced, while only 12 per cent say they are adequately-resourced.

  • 33% of classes are of 26 or more students, a slight increase on 32% in 2016.

  • A growing number of principals say their schools are suffering from staff shortages, a total of 51%, up from 37% in the 2016 survey.

  • 58% of principals say it is becoming harder to fill vacancies, while only 1 per cent say it is becoming easier. This is up from 48% in the 2016 survey.

  • Principals report the top three areas that are hardest to staff are: maths 59%, science 41%, technology 35%

It is clear that, despite Gonski funding beginning to make its way to schools, a lack of resources, and shortages of staff remain major issues affecting our kids education.

That’s because the Gonski agreements were designed to run for six years, turning around the skewed funding systems they replace, and lifting all schools to a minimum resource standard.

If Malcolm Turnbull fails to fund the full six years of Gonski, he is failing our kids.

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