There is no more significant campaign to make this country more equal than the campaign for a properly funded public school system, Federation President Maurie Mulheron said.
“Australia’s social cohesion and economic prosperity are predicated on the commitment of governments to uphold the rights and raise the living standards of all citizens, not just the few,” Mr Mulheron said.
“To this end, Federation will continue campaigning to ensure all public schools are provided the necessary resources to meet the learning needs of all students. Campaign efforts will need to go into overdrive to achieve it.”
The schools funding package passed by Federal Parliament in June — inferior to the funding promised in the National Education Reform Agreements (Gonski agreements) — means:
The state-Commonwealth Gonski agreements will not be honoured: Billions of dollars due from 2018 will not be delivered.
For NSW schools, this is estimated to be a loss of approximately $1.5 billion over the next four years. Some schools, therefore, will only receive 10 per cent of the money needed to lift student outcomes.
No longer a sector-blind, needs-based model: All private schools across Australia will now automatically receive 80 per cent of the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) from the Commonwealth, regardless of need. By contrast, public schools will receive only 20 per cent of the SRS from the Commonwealth.
This 80:20 fixed rate enshrines in law the myth that the Commonwealth is responsible for private schools. The original Gonski review said the responsibility needed to be shared.
It is forecast 87 per cent of public schools will not have reached the SRS by 2023, in contrast to 65 per cent of private schools that will be at, or above, the SRS by 2023.
Reduced Commonwealth funding commitment to be picked up by the states: The Federal Government, in acknowledging the massive shortfall in their funding commitment, will attempt to force the states to lift their levels of funding or face cuts.
This contradicts a central feature of the original Gonski model, which argued that the level of government with the greatest capacity to raise revenue should do the heavy lifting.
Students with disability will remain seriously underfunded: The Federal Government was scheduled to fully fund the Students with Disability (SWD) loading in 2015, but it did not happen.
Under the plan, students with disability will remain seriously underfunded, and indeed, in some states and territories, the SWD funding will be cut.
What the schools funding campaign has achieved
The Turnbull Government’s original plan to replace the National Education Reform Agreements was for all schools to reach the 20 per cent and 80 per cent point after 10 years.
Due to overwhelming pressure from public school supporters, the Turnbull Government was forced to provide an additional $4.9 billion in a compressed timeframe of six years.
Federation has been assisting the federal office of the Australian Education Union to prepare a submission, on behalf of the branches, to the Independent Review into Regional, Rural and Remote Education.
Mr Mulheron said that despite the Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools being restricted to examining strategies to improve educational outcomes, powerful statements linking resources to efficacy need to be made in submissions.
To achieve a fully-funded model that shifts resources to the public school system, campaigning must be built on broader and deeper community engagement. This will involve effective organising strategies, targeted campaign training for Federation workplace committees and community members, and a significant investment in resources.
Accordingly, Federation will develop and implement a comprehensive schools funding campaign for the next federal election.
Federation will continue to work with the AEU in the national campaign, as well as the peak NSW principal and parent organisations, other community organisations such as Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (AECG), Children and Young People with Disability Australia (CYDA), Ethnic Communities Council (ECC) and Australian Council of State School Organisations (ACSSO), Unions NSW and the ACTU.
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