Public Education Day sees public schools under attack by Abbott Government

22 May 2014

The Abbott Government’s abandoning of Gonski funding will hurt public school students across Australia and entrench disadvantage in our school system, the AEU said today.

AEU Federal President, Angelo Gavrielatos said public education was under attack from the Abbott Government’s decision to scrap the last two years of Gonski schools funding agreements, which were to deliver two-thirds of the extra funding to schools.

“The Government needs to listen to David Gonski, who warned last night of the urgent need to properly fund public schools, and move to a needs-based system that aspires to give all children a decent education,” Mr Gavrielatos said.

“Failing to invest in public schools is a short-sighted decision that will have long term consequences, by failing to create the human capital we need to compete economically.

“Today is Public Education Day, where we recognise the history and achievements of our public education system, and its role in educating millions of Australians.

“Australia’s public schools have a strong tradition of providing quality education to all students, regardless of their social background.

“They have provided opportunities for thousands of children and are a crucial building-block of our egalitarian society.

“But the Abbott Government has shown it has no commitment to the idea of a quality education for all Australian children by failing to honour the last two years of the Gonski agreements signed with the States.

“This decision will rip billions of dollars from disadvantaged schools, mostly in the public system, and lead to up to 20 per cent of schools failing to meet minimum resource standards.

“Decades of directing funding away from public schools, and delivering funding to schools which least need it, has coincided with Australia’s educational performance falling in global rankings, and now the Abbott Government seems determined to continue with that flawed thinking.

“Gonski’s needs-based funding model is our chance to move to a system where schools are funded according to the actual needs of the students they are educating.

“It is a funding system that recognises extra funding is required for students from low-income families, students with disability, students from regional Australia, Indigenous students and those with English as a second language.

“This is essential if we are to succeed in lifting overall student performance and closing the achievement gaps between students.

“By failing to honour the Gonski agreements beyond 2016/17 and cutting indexation for all schools this Government has shown it is intent on turning its back on the most disadvantaged students.

“Public schools which educate the overwhelming majority of disadvantaged students will be disproportionately affected.

Media Contact: Ben Ruse 0437 971 291