Turnbull must act as new report shows disadvantaged students missing out

26 October 2015

The Turnbull Government must act on the findings of a new report from the Mitchell Institute which shows the disturbing gaps in achievement between advantaged and disadvantaged students, and the importance of needs-based Gonski funding to address this.

The report found that students who fail to succeed at school were: ‘disproportionately likely to be from disadvantaged backgrounds’, and suggested schools with higher numbers of disadvantaged students get more resources to address their needs.

The report also warns that disadvantage has been compounded by pre-Gonski government policies that have seen funding increases disproportionately directed to private schools.

AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe said that the report was another demonstration of why needs-based Gonski funding was essential.

“While the report shows the school system is working for the majority of students, with most completing school and moving on to work, there are a disturbingly large number of disadvantaged students who are missing out,’ Ms Haythorpe said.

“This starts from the moment children begin school – with one-in-five children arriving at school without the skills needed to succeed in their learning.

“This is heavily linked to disadvantage, with students from the poorest households more than twice as likely to not meet learning benchmarks when they start school.

“Only half of those behind when they start school will have caught up by year 7 and only one-third from the most disadvantaged backgrounds will have caught up.

“We need to identify struggling students as early as possible and give them the extra support and resources they need to succeed at school. This investment means they will develop the skills needed to complete school and move into work.”

“By Year 7, we have 28 per cent of students without the core skills needed to benefit from their education.

“We also have 40 per cent of students from the most disadvantaged households failing to complete Year 12 or its equivalent.

“There is a clear link between disadvantage, poor performance at school and unemployment. Well-resourced schools are our chance to break that link.

Ms Haythorpe said the Federal Government needed to deliver the full six years of Gonski funding.

“The report finds that students who are Indigenous, poor, or live in remote areas are falling behind their peers at major stages of their schooling. These are the students whose schools receive extra resources through needs-based Gonski funding,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“Malcolm Turnbull must decide whether he will abandon Tony Abbott’s cuts to Gonski and give schools the full six years of increased funding they need.

“Schools that have already got Gonski funding are using it to make a positive difference for their students, especially those in disadvantaged schools,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“This may be through reduced class sizes, extra literacy and numeracy programs, support staff like speech therapists or more one-on-one support to students. All of these things are lifting results.

“We know this funding is working but we need bipartisan support across the country, and six years of funding to ensure all schools have the resources they need to educate their students.”

Media Contact: Ben Ruse 0437 971 291