Four Gonski vans, supplemented by five other vehicles wrapped in Gonski colours and slogans, reached Parliament House, Canberra at the culmination of the Gonski road trip.

More evidence backs Gonski agreement

Maurie Mulheron

The Gonski road trip convoy which arrived at Parliament House, Canberra on March 18 and a new OECD report have highlighted the negative effects of disadvantage on learning outcomes.

Throughout February and March, the Gonski vans covered almost 23,000 kilometres visiting 174 towns and cities. They were featured in more than 200 Gonski events organised by local teachers, parents and community members. The events encouraged supporters of a fairer funding model to pressure politicians to commit to the full six-year Gonski schools funding agreement, a deal which acknowledges the negative effects of disadvantage on learning outcomes by funding schools on the basis of need.

The Gonski vans travelled to some of Australia’s remotest communities before arriving in the Sydney’s CBD on March 15 where more than 300 Federation Councillors greeted their arrival. Later that day, touring English singer-songwriter and political activist Billy Bragg popped into Federation Council, sang a couple of songs and was happy to be photographed with the sign “Give a Gonski for our kids, Prime Minister Abbott”.

The following day saw the vans used in a Gonski blitz throughout Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s electorate. The vans then made their way to Canberra.

The vans attracted media attention wherever they went and along the way community members registered their support for the Gonski campaign at the I Give a Gonski website.

However, the intransigence of the Prime Minister and his Minister, Christopher Pyne, continues to concern parents and teachers across the nation.

Christopher Pyne failed to attend the International Summit on the Teaching Profession, held in New Zealand, March 28–29. This prestigious event is organised jointly by the host country’s ministry of education, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the international teachers’ union, Education International. Ministers of education from around the world attend, along with OECD officials and national teacher union leaders.

Christopher Pyne’s non-attendance is particularly disappointing given the messages that came out of the summit.

The findings from a significant report released at the summit by the OECD, Equity, Excellence and Inclusiveness in Education, showed that there was no evidence that giving an individual school more control over resourcing lifted student performance. The report went further and highlighted the negative effects of disadvantage on learning outcomes.

This report can be added to the list of other research findings that show that Pyne’s two policy settings, his rejection of needs-based funding and his push for the ‘independent public schools’ model, are the opposite of what Australia needs.

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