Gonski at the crossroads

Maurie Mulheron

The federal government is refusing to fund the final two transition years

As a piece of social reform, the Gonski funding model is to education what Medicare is to health.

It is designed to close the gap over time between the advantaged and the disadvantaged to ensure that all children receive the education they need and deserve, just as Medicare is designed to facilitate universal access to healthcare.

At the heart of the model is a School Resource Standard, the level of teaching and learning resources a school needs to educate its students. The Standard was created by examining the level of resources available to 1600 reference schools across Australia, from all sectors, which had consistent high levels of student achievement.

Therefore the School Resource Standard has a price tag attached to it: the level of funding needed to bring all schools up to that standard of resourcing.

According to the model, all schools are meant to reach 100 per cent of the Standard after six years of transition funding. We are now into the fourth year of that transition funding.

In the first year, 2014, NSW public schools were operating at only 84 per cent of the School Resource Standard. By the end of 2017, it is estimated that our schools will hit 88 per cent of the Standard. Most private schools are close to or operating above the Standard. Once schools reach the School Resource Standard, the funding from state and Commonwealth governments is to be maintained at a level so that no school ever drops below the Standard again.

Already we know that the funding is making a significant difference. It was a story told to us as we travelled from school to school even though only 36 per cent of the funding will have been allocated by December 2017.

Gonski should have been a settled matter. But the current federal government is refusing to fund the final two transition years and has declared that it wants to develop a new model with new architecture, and with much less money. In that situation, public schools will never reach the School Resource Standard.

Public schools across this country will not accept this.

This campaign will continue for as long as it takes.

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