Gonski funds needed to help struggling students catch up

31 January 2016

Reports today that one-in-five children is not ready to learn when they begin school are a concern and show the importance of needs-based Gonski funding to help these children catch up, the AEU said today.

AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe said the figure rose to 30 per cent in disadvantaged areas, showing the importance of targeting funding to the schools where the need was highest.

“These children need support and early intervention from the moment they start school, otherwise they risk remaining behind right through their school years,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“Things like intensive one-to-one support, literacy programs or in some cases speech therapy are important for helping children catch up, but these take time and money which many schools don’t have.

“Today’s report backs a comprehensive study by the Mitchell Institute last year into the links between disadvantage and poor school results, which found there was a clear link between starting school not ready to learn, and failing to go on to further education or work after school.

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

“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.

“The Federal Government needs to commit to delivering the full six years of Gonski funding which would give all schools the resources they need to give their students a quality education.

“Every students who needs help at school should be able to get it.

“In the States where Gonski funding is being delivered directly to schools, we are already seeing improved results. Gonski funding delivers increased resources to all schools, but delivers extra targeted funding to the schools which educate the most disadvantaged children.

“Without an increase in resources, Education Minister Simon Birmingham has no plan to ensure that support is available for these children to ensure they can make the most of their education.

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

Media Contact: Ben Ruse 0437 971 291