The Australian Education Amendment Bill 2017 currently before federal parliament will terminate the NSW National Education Reform Agreement (2014-2019) that enacts the Gonski needs-based funding model for all NSW schools.
It is a deceit for the Turnbull government to state that it is preserving needs-based funding in its proposed legislation.
If passed, this legislation will cut $846 million from NSW public schools in 2018 and 2019, the final two years of the six-year NSW Gonski agreement. It would replace the Gonski model with the Turnbull plan to allocate Commonwealth schools funding on a fixed 20:80 ratio (20 per cent for public schools, 80 per cent for private schools), indexed at a fixed rate annually. There is no requirement for state and territory governments to increase their schools funding under the Turnbull plan.
In contrast, the NSW Gonski agreement is 65 per cent funded by the Commonwealth and 35 per cent funded by the state government. Over $4.2 billion of a total of more than $5 billion additional funding is allocated to public schools because our students have a far higher level of educational need. By transitioning NSW public schools to a higher level of funding by 2019, the NSW agreement establishes a higher base of funding for future generations of students.
By terminating the NSW agreement the Turnbull legislation aims to lock in the lower 2017 level of funding for the next 10 years.
When a fixed annual indexation rate is applied to this lower level of funding, extra support for students with additional needs, such as those with disability, is denied year after year.
The Turnbull plan will reduce the funding necessary to meet students’ educational needs, ensure that the great majority of public schools will not reach the Schooling Resource Standard of the Gonski model, and widen the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged schools.
If the Turnbull government can budget for $65 billion in company tax cuts and more than $50 billion for 12 military submarines it can afford to provide the $1.1 billion necessary to honour the Commonwealth’s commitment to the NSW National Education Reform Agreement.