Turnbull must listen to experts on Gonski funding

1 October 2015

New Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull must listen to the views of business leaders, community groups and unions at todays’ ‘mini-summit’ in Canberra and commit to funding the full six years of the Gonski reforms, the AEU said today.

AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe said that Mr Turnbull’s goal of an ‘agile, innovative and creative’ Australia required all students to be educated so they could make the most of their potential.

“Participants at the National Reform Summit in August agreed that we need to invest in needs-based schools funding if we are to lift our productivity and remain competitive as a nation.

“We cannot continue with a situation where one-in-seven students leaves school without the literacy and numeracy skills needed for the workforce.

“Business and community groups, unions, academics and economists were united in the importance of funding schools fairly and ensuring no students missed out.

“Mr Turnbull needs to listen to them today and recognise that Gonski funding for schools is vital for both social equity and our economic future.

“The Reform Summit’s ‘Action Plan’ included a recommendation that Governments should: ‘Ensure all schools are operating at a resources standard that meets the needs of all students on the principle of needs based funding’.

“Participants also pledged to: ‘Work together to ensure all schools are operating at a resources standard that meets the needs of all students’.

“Needs-based funding and minimum resources for schools are the essence of the Gonski reforms, and it is a measure of their importance for Australia’s future that they have such broad support from participants.

“Since becoming Prime Minister Mr Turnbull has talked about the need to lift productivity and be more innovative and competitive. He needs to back that by stepping up and funding the full six years of Gonski – so that all schools have the resources they need to give their students the education they need for the 21st century.

Ms Haythorpe said the federal government’s plan not to fund its share of the final two years of the Gonski agreements, when the bulk of extra funding is to be delivered, would short-change disadvantaged schools and their students.

“This will strip the equivalent of 20,000 staff out of public schools alone,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“Mr Turnbull has a chance to show leadership on this issue, and recognise the importance of properly investing in our students.

“The fact that a Coalition Government in NSW has led the way in properly implementing the Gonski reforms and committing to the full six years of funding shows that Gonski should not be a partisan issue.

“Investing in students, particularly disadvantaged ones, so they have the skills the need for the jobs of the future will pay off in the long-term.”

Media Contact: Ben Ruse 0437 971 291