Malcolm Turnbull clearly understands that schools funding is a vital issue, and one where his plan to scrap Gonski has little public support.
That’s why he has come out today with a new funding model which he claims will fix the alleged problems with Gonski.
Unfortunately, a quick look at the detail shows that his plan won’t deliver needs-based funding, and won’t give schools the resources they need.
It’s a case of policy on the run and a poor substitute for the Gonski agreements, which are already lifting results in our schools, and provide a path to lift all schools to a minimum resource standard.
His plan will still see many schools fall short of the minimum resource standard, which means they won’t be able to provide their students with all the support they need.
Details are still sketchy and we still have no idea how schools will be funded in 2018.
Instead we have another review, again headed by David Gonski, and a long-term promise to lift funding over ten years.
That’s a long time. A child in Year 4 today would have finished school by the time the full funding is delivered.
The extra money that is being promised is far less than would be needed to fund Gonski in full. The Turnbull Government itself admitted today that it would be $22 billion less than Gonski over the next ten years.
The Gonski agreements would deliver an extra $3.8 billion to schools in 2018 and 2019 alone. The best Malcolm Turnbull can say about his plan is that it will deliver an extra $2 billion over the next four school years.
That’s a big difference, and means a lot less extra one-to-one support, a lot fewer literacy and numeracy programs, and a lot more students missing out on the support they need.
New model not needs-based
Under the Gonski agreements, 80 per cent of extra funding in 2018 and 2019 is to go to public schools, which have the highest needs. Under Malcolm Turnbull’s new model they are to get less than half of the extra funding.
Despite his spin, Malcolm Turnbull is still effectively abandoning the most disadvantaged schools and their students.
He is also moving away from the key principle of Gonski – that state and federal governments work together to make sure no child misses out at school.
Under his system, the federal government will provide 20% of the Schooling Resource Standard for public schools yet 80% of the SRS for private schools.
The 20% and 80% figures appear to be have plucked from the air, with no educational justification, or consideration for how much funding these schools are receiving from state governments.
For instance, we don’t know what will happen to schools in the NT, which have high levels of need and are currently receiving 23% of the SRS.
State governments still haven’t been consulted on how the system will work, or how schools will be funded next year.
It’s another example of the sloppy and chaotic approach Malcolm Turnbull has taken to schools funding.
It is clear that he has no interest in properly funding schools according to need.
The main reason Malcolm Turnbull has been forced into a new funding model is the pressure from state governments, and the community.
The work that the Gonski campaign and its supporters have done in keeping this issue in the public eye has been rewarded.
But we won’t be satisfied until Malcolm Turnbull delivers the six years of the Gonski agreements in full.