There is now an opportunity for Malcolm Turnbull, as the new Prime Minister, to fully implement the Gonski schools funding model. Both former prime minister Tony Abbott and former federal education minister Christopher Pyne opposed the needs-based funding model from the day it was released, only agreeing as an act of political expediency at the last election to fund it partially.
At the heart of the Gonski model is a school resource standard. The Gonski plan is to bring all schools up to that standard over a six-year transition period and then to maintain that level of funding so that no school ever drops below the resource standard. Students with greater need attract additional funding through loadings.
One of Malcolm Turnbull’s first acts after becoming Prime Minister was to convene a mini-summit of leaders from business, the community and unions. However, teachers know that Mr Turnbull’s goal of an “agile, innovative and creative” Australia will not be met unless the nation invests in education so that all children can be given the opportunity to reach their potential.
In Opposition, Malcolm Turnbull expressed support for the Gonski model: “But the point about the Gonski review and the Gonski report is that it essentially identified, fairly I think, the need for additional financial resources to be made available for schools and students who are getting inadequate resources given their particular needs, whether that be not coming from an English-speaking household, poverty, an Indigenous background or so forth. Again, in general terms, who would argue with that?” (Malcolm Turnbull, June 2013)
NSW has proven that it is possible to achieve bi partisan support for the Gonski funding model. The question educators are asking is whether Malcolm Turnbull can demonstrate the necessary leadership to achieve this at the national level.