Expansion of Cape York trial no substitute for Gonski funding, not backed by evidence

1 July 2014

Education Minister Christopher Pyne’s $22 million expansion of the Direct and Explicit Instruction trial in indigenous communities in Cape York is expanding an unproven program, and is no substitute for Gonski funding in remote areas, the Australian Education Union said today.

AEU Deputy Federal President Correna Haythorpe said the Abbott Government was cutting resources to remote indigenous schools by abandoning Gonski funding agreements, and funding the Good to Great Schools organisation to expand the program was an inadequate substitute.

“Expanding this program ignores the Australian Council of Education Research report into the trial in 2013, which found there was no solid evidence that it had improved results,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“Meanwhile, this Government is abandoning Gonski agreements which would deliver permanent extra resources to remote schools, schools with low-income students and indigenous students.

“Closing the huge resources gaps between remote schools with largely indigenous student bodies and city schools will require a massive effort, and can only be done through Gonski’s needs-based funding.

“Expanding an untested trial into a small minority of schools is no substitute for properly resourcing remote schools, and providing their students with the properly-trained teachers and support staff they need.

“The fact this funding will be entirely directed to one organisation, using one unproven method of instruction for students, is a major concern.

“This is like Minister Pyne’s recent expansion of the flawed Teach for Australia program – outsourcing responsibility to an organisation with no track record of success.

“This funding only went to tender at the end of May, which raises serious questions about the level of scrutiny of proposals and oversight of this spending.”

“What monitoring and analysis is being done to ensure that this is the best way of spending scarce resources?”

The ACER evaluation of the Cape York Aboriginal Australian Academy trial in 2013 found that it was impossible to conclude, except in limited cases that the CYAAA had a positive impact on student learning, due to a lack of information.

The report said: “when the year levels within campuses were pooled there were no statistically significant differences indicating an increase in the proportion of students being at or above the national standards in each of the campuses.”

It found that there was no increase in the proportion of students achieving national literacy standards at two of the three campuses in the trial.

It also found that there was a decline in attendance rates at schools between 2010 and 2012.

“The ACER report found no evidence that the Direct Instruction method improved results, only that students who came to school more often were likely to have better results,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“The Federal and Queensland Governments have provided $7.7 million to the CYAAA for a range of programs since 2010, but there has been no evidence that the Direct Instruction program has improved results in Cape York, and no guarantee that it will be successful if it is expanded

Media Contact: Ben Ruse 0437 971 291