Australia’s inequitable school resourcing exposed

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Disadvantaged students in Australia are being denied the chance to learn by some of the biggest gaps in school resourcing in the OECD, a new report has found.

The report, by education researcher Trevor Cobbol, of Save Our Schools, found that the performance of students in Australia’s disadvantaged schools is being compromised by a lack of resources and support for teachers.

“If we want all students to have an equal chance to succeed at school then we need to address the inequities that see disadvantaged schools with higher student-teacher ratios, more teacher shortages and fewer material resources?”

AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe said the research confirmed that Gonski needs-based funding was required to address unequal resourcing and help educators in disadvantaged schools.

“Students at disadvantaged schools are up to three years behind their peers by the time they get to Year 9. The best way to close this gap is to give those students the support they need.”

“Educators at these schools are just as skilled and committed to their students, but they are not getting the support they need.”

The analysis found that:

  • Australia has the biggest gap in teacher shortages between disadvantaged and advantaged schools in the OECD and almost the largest of the 70 countries/regions participating in PISA 2015; only Buenos Aires, Peru and the United Arab Emirates have a larger gap of all the countries participating in PISA;
  • Inequity in the allocation of educational staff between disadvantaged and advantaged schools in Australia is the highest in the OECD according to the PISA measure of equity in the allocation of staff;
  • Australian is one of only seven OECD countries where disadvantaged schools have a higher student-teacher ratio than advantaged schools and the gap in Australia is the equal 2nd largest;
  • Inequity in the allocation of material resources in Australia is the 5th highest in the OECD according to the PISA measure of equity in resource allocation.
  • Australia has the largest gap in teacher shortages between regional and city schools in the OECD and one of the largest of all countries/regions participating in PISA;

“Students in disadvantaged schools are less likely to have access to resources, such as computers or a quiet space to study. They need to have those resources at their schools if they are to succeed,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“Gonski funding is already working to close these gaps by offering more opportunities and support to students, through in-class help, literacy and numeracy programs and other support.

“Students in disadvantaged schools are getting early intervention for speech or behavioural difficulties, more one-to-one support and mentoring and more access to literacy and numeracy programs.

“We need the Turnbull Government to fund Gonski in full – not to push ahead with its plan to scrap $3.8 billion in extra funding to schools.