AEU’s State of Our Schools Survey shows Gonski making a difference – but budgets and staffing still major issues

1 April 2016

More schools than ever received needs-based Gonski funding in 2016 and Principals reported Gonski is making a positive difference to school results, the AEU’s 2016 State of Our Schools Survey has found.

AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe said that the survey highlighted shortfalls in budgets and staffing, and public schools’ dependence on fundraising, but showed that Gonski funding was flowing through to benefit schools and students as designed.

“We need Malcolm Turnbull to match Labor’s commitment to funding Gonski in full and investing an extra $4.5 billion into our schools in 2018 and 2019 – to allow schools to build on the success they are already starting to deliver.

“He must not walk away from federal funding of public schools – a move which would end needs-based funding and mean many schools would not reach the funding levels they need to give their students a quality education.

In the 2016 survey, 67 per cent of Principals reported their schools was receiving Gonski funding, compared to just 34 per cent in 2015. Half of the schools receiving Gonski funding in 2016 received over $100,000 and 27 per cent received over $400,000.

“We are seeing more schools receive Gonski funding and use it to provide extra support for their students and improve results.”

“95 per cent of schools which received over $200,000 in increased funding said it had made a positive difference.

“Extra resources for schools means that students who need help are getting it.”

The State of Our Schools survey found Principals reported spending their funding on a range of ways to benefit students:

  • Professional development to improve quality of teaching (53 per cent)
  • Additional student support staff (51 per cent)
  • Specialist Literacy and Numeracy Teachers and Coaches (40 per cent)
  • One-on-one support for students with learning difficulties (34 per cent)
  • Additional classroom teachers to cut class sizes (21 per cent)

Ms Haythorpe said that despite the positive results on Gonski funding there were still some disturbing findings from the survey, which show the need for greater resourcing of schools.”

“Despite the increases in Gonski funding, 45 per cent of principals say their school is either under-resourced or significantly under-resourced. This figure is up to 65 per cent in Victoria, where Gonski funding was delayed until this year.

“We need the full six years of Gonski funding to ensure that all public schools have the resources they need to educate all their students.”

“From 2015 to 2016 there has been an increase from 38 per cent to 48 per cent of principals who find it more difficult to fill staff vacancies.

“51 per cent of Secondary School principals said that some of their maths and science classes were taught by teachers not fully qualified in the subject area.

“This is yet more evidence that we need workforce planning to increase the number of maths and science teachers in our schools.”

“We are still seeing fundraising as a mainstay of school budgets, and seeing it used for things like textbooks and basic maintenance.”

“80 per cent of schools are involved in fundraising and 89 per cent of those said fundraising was important or very important for their budgets.

“60 per cent of schools said they fundraised for classroom equipment, 46 per cent for sports equipment or uniforms, 43 per cent for textbooks and 28 per cent for basic maintenance.”

“These are things which should be provided to schools without the need for them to do their own fundraising.

Ms Haythorpe said that the AEU would continue to campaign for bi-partisan support for the full six years of Gonski, so that all schools were properly resourced for the needs of their students.

“We know that 1-in-7 15 year-olds struggles to read properly, and 1-in-5 struggles with basic maths

“We also know that disadvantaged students are five times more likely to be poor performers than students from wealthy backgrounds.

“It is not in our long-term social or economic interest to let these children leave school without the skills to get a job or lead a successful life.

“Gonski funding delivers extra funding to all schools, but delivers the biggest increases to schools which educate disadvantaged students.

Media Contact: Ben Ruse 0437 971 291