Education Ministers Council affirms importance of needs-based funding, but ignores disability

29 May 2015

Today’s Education Ministers Council in Brisbane has confirmed the importance of needs-based funding, and it is now up to the Abbott Government to deliver the final two years of the Gonski agreements, the AEU said today.

AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe said State and Territory ministers had expressed the obvious: that cuts to schools funding following the abandonment of Gonski agreements will hurt schools and students.

“States know that cutting needs-based Gonski funding makes it harder for schools to provide a quality education for all students, regardless of their background,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“The communique from the meeting also confirmed the States and Territories commitment to needs-based funding, a commitment that crosses party lines.

“Minister Pyne’s denial in his press conference that there has been any funding cut to schools flies in the face of the reality that the Abbott Government has abandoned the last two years of the Gonski agreements and only indexed schools funding to CPI from 2018.

“This is a decision that will strip $3.8 billion from schools over the last two years of the Gonski agreements, $2.7 billion from public schools – the equivalent of 20,000 educators.

“States should be commended for standing firm in favour of needs-based funding, but we also need all States to commit to delivering their share of the 5th and 6th years of the Gonski agreements.

“It is disappointing that the meeting did not make progress on the issue of funding for students with disability. The National Consistent Data Collection project is due to be completed this year, and must be used to lift the level of funding for students with disability from 2016.

“We need all levels of government to act to address the 100,000 students with disability currently receiving no funded support in schools.

“State and Territory Governments have rightly pushed back against Minister Pyne’s plan to make maths or science compulsory to Year 12.

“We still have no policies to ease the shortages of maths and science teachers which already exist, and which see 40 per cent of maths classes in Years 7-10 taught by nonspecialist teachers.

“We need more investment in maths and science teaching so all students can be taught by a teacher qualified in those subjects, not thought bubbles about making these subjects compulsory.”

Media Contact: Ben Ruse 0437 971 291