​PC Report ignores impact of unfair pre-Gonski funding

6 September 2016

Today’s Productivity Commission report into education which claims Australia’s student performance has not improved despite increased funding ignores the unfair distribution of resources prior to needs-based Gonski funding, the AEU said today.

AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe said the key issue in Australian schools remained the gaps in achievement between advantaged and disadvantaged schools, and that the full six years of Gonski funding were needed to address this.

“The lack of improvement in student results has happened during a time when funding was not based on need, and when the biggest increases in resources went to schools which did not need them,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“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%.

“There can be no justification for this when the need in the public system is far higher.

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

“You can’t end inequitable outcomes in education with an inequitable funding system.”

“Less than a third of the targeted funding the Gonski Review recommended has been delivered so far, but what has been delivered is already starting to make a difference in schools.

“We need the full six years of needs-based Gonski funding to ensure that all disadvantaged schools have the resources they need.

“But instead of delivering the full Gonski, the Turnbull Government wants to push ahead with a funding plan which would end needs-based funding and deliver 62% of extra federal government resources to private schools, and just 38% per cent to public schools.

“Schools would be $3.8 billion worse off in 2018 and 2019 alone under the Coalition’s plan.

“The Coalition’s own budget shows it plans to cut funding to public schools in the NT and Tasmania where student needs are greatest.

“While any research that shows what programs and teaching methods have a positive effect on students is important in assisting educators, we already know that extra resources make a difference.

“What is missing too often in Australia’s schools is not knowledge of what works, but the resources to provide it to students.

“Things like extra one-to-one support for students who are struggling, speech pathology or extra literacy and numeracy programs make a huge difference to student performance. But these take time and money to deliver and are not available to every child who needs them.

For example the federal government’s own figures show we have over 250,000 students with disability who need funded support but aren’t getting it.

“Even in States which are delivering Gonski funding the increases still represent a tiny proportion of the overall schools budget.