Labor announcement boosts Gonski campaign

Ball now firmly in Turnbull’s court

Maurie Mulheron

Federal Labor’s commitment to “deliver the Gonski reforms on time and in full” is a game-changer for needs-based school funding in Australia.

The ball is now firmly in the Turnbull Government’s court — it needs to match Labor’s policy or better it.

In January, Federal Opposition leader Bill Shorten announced an additional $4.5 billion for the nation’s schools for 2018 and 2019 and a total provision of $37.3 billion for the package over a decade. NSW students would benefit from an extra $1.6 billion in 2018 and 2019.

Labor also plans to “properly fund” the Gonski disability loading from 2017 and implement the recommendations of the Senate Inquiry into the Education and Attainment of Students with Disability.

The Gonski money being spent right now to assist the most disadvantaged of our students is achieving great results in countless schools around the country. Fully funding the Gonski model will ensure these programs will continue to improve students’ educational outcomes into the future.

AEU delegation to Canberra

On February 3 a national delegation of teachers, educators, parents and students met with Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham, Labor leader Bill Shorten, Greens leader Richard Di Natale and other politicians to tell them needs-based Gonski funding has been making life-changing improvements to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students’ educational outcomes.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull needs to understand that Australians across the political divide overwhelmingly support the principles behind the Gonski reforms.

Recent polling, reported in the Sydney Morning Herald (February 7), shows twice as many voters in 10 Liberal-held marginal seats would support the Turnbull Government full y funding the Gonski model.

Recent research by Save Our Schools convenor Trevor Cobbold, a former economist for the Productivity Commission, shows that in the 15 years to 2014 the combined government funding per public school student rose by 17 per cent in real terms while funding per private school student shot up 39 per cent.

The Gonski model is designed to redress that historical funding inequity by funding schools on the basis of student need.

Students from disadvantaged backgrounds are far more likely to be low performers at school, an OECD report released this month shows. It is more evidence of the importance of needs-based Gonski funding.

The Senate Education and Employment Committee’s final report into students with disabilities’ access to learning, released in January, recommended the government commit to funding schools on the basis of need and that the government fund all students with disability on the basis of need by reversing its cuts to the final two years of the Gonski reforms.

It also called on the government to heed the warnings of inquiry witnesses that “linking school funding to the Consumer Price Index will result in funding cuts in real terms and reduce access to education for students with disability”.

National Sign Up for Gonski Week was held on February 15–20, when all members were asked to make a special effort to sign up at I Give a Gonski and encourage others to do the same.

The more sign-ups there are, the more pressure can be exerted on the Turnbull Government to match or better Labor’s commitment to the Gonski needs-based funding model ahead of the federal election.

If you have not signed up, please do so at I Give a Gonski — it takes less than a minute.

The Australian Education Union’s pre-Budget submission has called on the Turnbull Government to fund the full six years of Gonski funding and keep its broken promise to give all students with disability the funding they need from 2016.

Why Gonski funding is vital for every teacher

Stunning literacy results spur students on

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