Government announces new Gonski-based school funding plan – May 2017

Filed under: Employment and Education, Education, Politics, Australian Politics,

The federal Government has announced a new needs-based schools funding system, and increased investment.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the new initiative would give Australian students “the quality education they deserve”.

“The Government will commit an additional $18.6 billion for Australia’s schools over the next decade, starting from 2018,” he said. “It will be distributed according to a model of fair, needs-based and transparent funding. This investment will be tied to school reforms which are proven to boost student results.”

Under the reforms, Commonwealth funding for schools will grow from $17.5 billion in 2017 to $30.6 billion in 2027. This includes more than $2.2 billion in new funding over the first four years, included in this year’s Budget, and following on from an additional $1.2 billion in last year’s Budget.

“While a strong level of funding for schools is vital, what’s more important is how that funding is used,” Mr Turnbull said.

He said David Gonski had agreed to lead a new inquiry into improving the results of Australian students.

Mr Gonski’s original review led to the adoption of needs-based funding, but the then Labor government had to strike a series of deals with the states and territories in the implementation process.

Mr Turnbull said his Government’s policy would be based on a uniform national model.

Mr Turnbull said the new review would provide advice on how the extra Commonwealth funding should be used by schools to improve student achievement and school performance.

Mr Gonski would be joined by Dr Ken Boston, who was also a member of the original Gonski review.

“The review will make recommendations on the most effective teaching and learning strategies to reverse declining results, and seek to raise the performance of schools and students,” the Prime Minister said.

Mr Gonski will provide his final report to the Government no later than December, ahead of the negotiation of new school reform agreements with states and territories in the first half of 2018.

“Each child in Australia deserves the support and the opportunity to succeed,” Mr Turnbull said.

“They deserve schools that are well and fairly funded and encourage the highest academic standards. The Turnbull Government will deliver the real ‘Gonski’ needs-based funding model that Labor didn’t.

“We will end Labor’s 27 special deals with states and territories, unions and non-government school leaders. Labor traded away the principles of the ‘Gonski’ report for political expediency.

“This new package provides equal federal treatment across all states and is about delivering quality schools for all Australian students.

“This plan will set Australian students on the path to academic excellence and achieve real needs-based funding for students from all backgrounds, in every town and city, in every region and state, in every classroom.

“National and international reports have shown declining performance in Australia’s education system, despite record increases in funding. We cannot accept increased investment and declining results. We must focus on quality to improve education outcomes for all Australian students.

“Our changes will ensure all schools and states transition to an equal Commonwealth share of the resource standard in a decade, unlike the 150 years of inequity that current arrangements would entail.

“The Commonwealth will meet a share of the Gonski recommended Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) of 20 per cent for government schools – up from 17 per cent this year – and 80 per cent for non-government schools – up from 77 per cent this year.

“While maintaining the historic role of the federal government as the majority funder of non-government schools, this will see the Commonwealth continue to increase its share of funding for government schools, which in 2013-14 stood at 13.4 per cent and in 2005-06 was just 8.9 per cent.

“Our reform will allow states and territories to be held to account for meeting their share of the standard. To stop cost-shifting, states will also be required to at least maintain their real per student funding levels or face a reduction in Commonwealth funding.

“The latest data show that in 2014-15, the Commonwealth increased funding for all Australian schools by more than $1 billion while in the same year, four states and territories actually reduced their spending on government schools by as much as $56 million.

“We will correct the inequities and inconsistencies in the current schools funding model by:

  • Ensuring students with the same need within the same sector attract the same support from the Commonwealth Government regardless of where they live.
  • Transitioning all schools to an equitable Commonwealth share of the SRS by increasing federal funding on average over the next decade to government schools by 94.1 per cent or $6.4 billion and to non-government schools by 62.2 per cent or $6.7 billion.
  • Introducing funding fairness. We expect 24 schools in the nation’s highest socio-economic areas will receive a small reduction in per-student funding in 2018.
  • For the first time using the Nationally Consistent Collection of Data for Commonwealth funding decisions on students with a disability. This will ensure that need drives funding allocation, and end the different definitions of disability that exist between jurisdictions.
  • From 2021, indexing the SRS at a rate that reflects real cost growth into the future.”

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