Morrison govt’s secret agenda means school funding agreements will be worthless

14 September 2018

Any public school funding agreements or curriculum reforms negotiated by the Morrison government which do not include input from the teaching profession will be absolutely worthless and doomed to failure.

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Education Council is meeting in Adelaide to discuss curriculum reforms, as well as bilateral funding agreements which will leave 87 per cent of Australian public schools below the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS).

Under Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan’s current public education funding plan, $1.9 billion will be cut from public school funding in 2018 and 2019. By 2023 only 13 per cent of public schools will receive enough funding to reach the minimum Schooling Resource Standard.

However principals and teachers have been left in the dark over the Morrison government’s progress, after being excluded from months of secret negotiations on major school funding and school curriculum reforms between the Commonwealth and states and territory education ministers.

Australian Education Union (AEU) Federal President Correna Haythorpe said that the chaotic approach to public school funding and to curriculum reform means the nation’s public schools will be the biggest victims of the Morrison government’s secret education agenda.

“These fundamental reforms to the school curriculum, as well as to public school funding, will have a profound effect on public schools and public school students for years to come, yet the teaching profession has been frozen out of these discussions completely,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“The AEU has sought meetings with Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan, however the Minister has not accepted our invitations for discussions. The teaching profession has been cut out of the process completely. This does not bode well for a new Minister.”

“This approach seems typical of the Morrison government’s chaotic approach to policy formulation and negotiation. School principals and teachers need certainty when it comes to school budgets and curriculums, and the Morrison government does not seem to be able to deliver,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“There is no transparency about these negotiations, just a secret agenda from the federal government. If these reforms are struck without consultation with the teaching profession, then we will reserve our right not to cooperate with them.”

“A funding agreement which delivers anything less than 100 per cent of the Morrison government’s own Schooling Resource Standard for every public school is not worth the paper it is printed on,” Ms Haythorpe said.

Ms Haythorpe said that the Morrison government had failed to display transparency and honesty when it came to public school funding.

“Public schools have already had $1.9 billion stripped from their budgets in 2018 and 2019 by the Morrison government. Now Min. Tehan is negotiating individual bilateral funding arrangements with each state or territory, but we have no idea what they say,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“Current federal funding arrangements will leave nearly nine in ten public schools in Australia without enough funding to meet the needs of each student by 2023. It’s clear what needs to happen. The Morrison government must lift its contribution to public school funding.”

“There is a simple solution to fixing the school funding issue - all schools must be funded at 100% of the Schooling Resource Standard by 2023,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“The Morrison government must reverse its $1.9 billion cut from public schools for the 2018 and 2019 years, remove the 20% cap for public schools on its share of the SRS, and reverse cuts to disability funding in five states and territories.”

“It also must establish a $300m capital fund, indexed to enrolment growth, for public schools to ensure our students are educated in modern, world-class classrooms and learning spaces,” Ms Haythorpe said.

Ms Haythorpe said Min. Tehan would also be discussing the Morrison government’s planned curriculum reforms with state and territory education ministers today.

“Dan Tehan’s curriculum reforms are an attack on the professionalism of the teaching profession,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“We highlighted concerns about the National School Reform Agreement back in June. Since then, the teaching profession has heard nothing from the Federal Education Minister.”

“These are massive educational reforms which simply will not work to lift student outcomes if the government implements them without consulting the teaching profession,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“There has been absolutely no consultation with the teaching profession, meaning that these reforms have absolutely no chance of success. Our children deserve better.”