Unacceptable school funding model leaves teachers out of the equation

22 June 2018

The teaching profession could refuse to cooperate with the Turnbull government’s education funding reforms, which will leave nearly nine in ten public schools in Australia without enough funding to meet the needs of each student by 2023.

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Education Council is meeting today in Adelaide to discuss bilateral funding agreements which will leave 87 per cent of Australian public schools below the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS).

Under Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham’s public education funding plan, $1.9 billion will be cut from public school funding in 2018 and 2019. By 2023 only 13 per cent of public schools will receive enough funding to reach the minimum Schooling Resource Standard.

Australian Education Union (AEU) Federal President Correna Haythorpe said that the teaching profession had been left out of the consultation process and as a result could refuse to co-operate with the current reform agenda. Any discussions going forward must have teachers at the table.

She said the AEU would not accept anything less than 100 per cent SRS funding for every public school.

“Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham’s inadequate, flawed funding model shows utter contempt for the teaching profession,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“Every education minister going into that meeting today must understand how deeply-felt this issue is within the teaching profession. We are outraged that a national agreement is being considered without any consultation with teachers.

“Mr Birmingham wants to impose his reform agenda on a deeply inequitable and under-resourced school system, and that is unacceptable to our members. He is a minister who clearly can’t work with people.”

Ms Haythorpe said there would be no significant education reform in Australia if teachers were not involved in the process.

“Principals and teachers are at the heart of learning in our schools, and Simon Birmingham is driving an agenda which removes teachers from the debate,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“Simon Birmingham is disrespecting the teaching profession,” Ms Haythorpe said. “He is trying to impose a reform agenda without any consultation and without the fair funding needed for our schools.”

“You can’t impose change without substantial investment. The way things stand, just 13 per cent of public schools will meet the minimum funding benchmark by 2023,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“The states must get a commitment from the Commonwealth to secure full funding for all schools, so that all public schools reach 100 per cent of the Schooling Resource Standard, before making any agreements with Simon Birmingham.”

Ms Haythorpe said the AEU was calling for “Fairer Funding Now” for public schools.

“The Turnbull government must immediately reverse its decision to cut $1.9 billion from public schools for 2018 and 2019,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“The Commonwealth should also strike agreements with the states and territories to ensure that all public schools receive 100 per cent of their Schooling Resource Standard by 2023, and that the 20 per cent cap on the Commonwealth’s share is removed.”

Ms Haythorpe called for additional funding for school capital works and for supporting students with disability in public schools.

“Under Turnbull’s school funding plan, public schools receive zero capital funds for much-needed new and upgraded classrooms and facilities, while private schools will reap the benefits of Turnbull’s $1.9-billion-in-capital-works special deal,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“A capital fund of $300 million, which was recommended by the Gonski Review, should be established and reviewed annually to help public schools meet rising enrolment growth.”

“The Turnbull government’s cuts to funding in five states for students with disability should also be reversed. The National School Resourcing Board should immediately review the three levels of funding for students with disability to better align them with the actual costs of delivering high-quality education,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“Properly delivering on needs-based funding in this way will ensure that every child will be given the opportunity to learn,” Ms Haythorpe said.