Turnbull’s unfair funding plan exposed

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6 September 2016

New research has exposed how Malcolm Turnbull’s school funding plan will abandon needs-based funding after 2017 and leave public schools worse off.

An analysis by education funding expert Jim McMorrow found that under the Turnbull plan 62% of extra funding will go to private schools, with just 38% going to the public system despite its higher need.

AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe said the analysis torpedoed Malcolm Turnbull’s claims that he would deliver funding “where it was most needed”.

“Malcolm Turnbull wants to take us back to a system where schools are funded by sector, not need, which will leave our children worse off.,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“This would only entrench inequality and widen the gaps in achievement which exist between our schools.

Overall schools will miss out on $5.28 billion from 2016/17 to 2019/20, compared with the full six years of Gonski funding, with public schools losing $4.475 billion.

Under the full six years of Gonski, Dr McMorrow estimates that 80 per cent of the extra federal funding will be delivered to public schools.

“Malcolm Turnbull’s failure to invest in our schools and students would do long-term damage. Students from disadvantaged schools would miss out on the help they need to succeed at school,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“It makes no sense to try and abandon Gonski just as schools and students are beginning to benefit from the extra resources it is delivering.

“The Gonski model will be better for all schools, but will deliver the biggest funding increases to public schools, which educate higher proportions of low-SES students and students with disability.

“The next Education Ministers Council is on September 23, and we need State and Territory Governments to stand up to any attempt by the Coalition to end Gonski, and to fight to ensure that schools funding remains based on need,” Ms Haythorpe said.

Dr McMorrow’s analysis showed that:

  • The Coalition’s plan would see schools a total of $5.28 billion worse off from 2016/17 to 2019/20, compared with the full six years of Gonski funding.
  • Of the extra $1.2 billion the Coalition has promised over four years under its model, only $450 million (38 per cent) would go to public schools and $750 million (62 per cent to private schools)
  • Per student funding to public schools would increase by just 1.8% in 2018/19 and 2.1% in 2019/20

The extra funding to public schools would amount to just $183 per student over three years for public schools compared with $309 per student for private schools. This tiny amount is not enough to pay for a single extra full-time teacher in a public school with 500 students.

Ms Haythorpe said the Gonski reforms were vital to address past inequities in schools funding which had seen the biggest increases in funding go to schools which needed them the least.

“From 2009 to 2014, combined government funding to public schools rose by 14.6% per student, while funding to Catholic schools rose by 30.2% and independent schools by 30.3%,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“That’s why the Gonski Review recommended that we target funding to disadvantaged schools to close the widening gaps in student achievement.

“State and Territory Governments must not let Malcolm Turnbull turn back the clock to the flawed system of the past.”