Pyne’s biased and secretive funding review aims to undermine needs-based schools funding

9 September 2014

Education Minister Christopher Pyne’s invitation-only inquiry into the low-socioeconomic status (SES) loading, which recognises the need to devote more resources to educating students from poor families, is a biased attempt to undermine equity and needs-based schools funding, the AEU said today.

AEU Federal President Angelo Gavrielatos said it was clear Mr Pyne’s inquiry would be dominated by voices from private schools and was designed to undermine the low SES loading.

“The review of the low SES loading only makes sense if you have a commitment to the needs-based Gonski funding model, which this government has clearly demonstrated it does not by abandoning the last two years of Gonski funding agreements,” Mr Gavrielatos said.

“The purpose of this biased and secretive review is to further move away from needs-based funding for schools.

“The Abbott Government has already made it clear in the Budget that it intends to turn its back on our neediest students, further entrenching disadvantage.

“They have also broken an election promise to increase funding for students with disability from 2015 and in fact announced a cut of $100 million from programs aimed at supporting students with disability.

“Despite the fact that 82 per cent of the poorest students attend public schools, 65 per cent of the organisations invited to contribute to this review represent Catholic or Independent schools, which educate just 12 per cent and six per cent of the poorest students respectively.

“It is clear this review is intended to advance the Abbott Government’s agenda of dismantling the Gonski funding reforms in the interests of the private school lobby which is actively seeking to maintain the relative resource advantage of private schools compared to public schools.

“Minister Pyne has already admitted that the Abbott Government feels it has a “particular responsibility” for and an “emotional commitment” to private schools it doesn’t have for public schools.

“The Gonski Review recognised the need to fund schools on a basis that was needs-based and sector-blind. That clearly means more support for public schools which educate the overwhelming majority of disadvantaged students.

“The SES loading recognises that it costs more to educate students from low-income families, but also that spending extra dollars to support these students delivers huge benefits in the long-term.”

“It also recognises that public schools which have high concentrations of low-SES students have their own challenges that need extra resourcing.

“We have written to Minister Pyne to register our condemnation of the manner in which the Review is being conducted. We will not be part of a process that is clearly designed to undermine the SES loading.

“The best way to guarantee all Australians a quality education is to implement the full six years of Gonski reforms and ensure that public schools are properly funded so that all children can reach their full potential.”

Media Contact: Ben Ruse 0437 971 291