​Still no detail on Coalition’s Gonski alternative

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22 July 2016

Another meeting of State and Territory education ministers has passed, and we still have no detail about the Coalition’s plans for schools funding beyond 2017.

Funding issues were not even on the agenda at yesterday’s meeting despite Education Minister Simon Birmingham’s promise that funding arrangements will be worked out by early next year.

The Coalition clearly has no alternative to needs-based Gonski funding, it went into the election with a quick-fix policy which had no details on how funding was to be distributed, or whether it would be funded based on need.

In fact, the Coalition’s own Budget Papers showed that public schools in Tasmania and the Northern Territory would lose funding after 2017 under its new model, despite having high levels of need.

AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe said that there was no alternative to Gonski’s needs-based funding on the table, and the Federal Government needed to continue with the full six years of Gonski funding.

“We know that increased resources are already lifting results for students in disadvantaged schools, and we need the full six years of funding for that to continue.

“The Coalition has said they will renegotiate funding with the States but has not given any details of how the new funding model will work.

“Nothing came out of yesterday’s meeting, and it is clear that there is still no alternative to Gonski being considered.

“The Gonski model is the result of several years of consultation and has the support of educators, policy makers and business groups.

“No State Government has backed the Coalition’s proposal, and independent and Catholic schools also support the full Gonski.

“We know that Gonski funding is making a difference in States where it is being delivered directly to schools, but two-thirds of the extra funding is due to be delivered in 2018 and 2019.”

This funding is needed to help students at disadvantaged schools which have had years of under-funding.

From 2009/10 to 2013/14 combined government per student funding to public schools actually fell by 3 per cent in real terms while private school funding rose by 10 per cent.

Ms Haythorpe said there had also been no progress on increasing funding for students with disability at yesterday’s meeting, despite the Coalition’s 2013 promise to fund all students at their level of need.

The Budget confirmed that this increase in funding had been put off yet again, this time until 2018, and there is still no clarity about how much extra funding there will be and how it will be distributed.

“This is an urgent issue for 270,000 students with disability who are not receiving any funded support at school.”