The State Budget on June 17 included provision to honour its part of the six year NSW Gonski agreement, as promised.
Federation has welcomed the Baird Government’s commitment. Students in public schools will benefit from this increased funding, especially those with additional needs. It is important, however, that state Liberal and National MPs back up this commitment by lobbying their federal counterparts in the Abbott Government to reverse the Federal Budget decision to abandon the Gonski agreement.
A major negative of the State Budget is the significant under-investment in TAFE. Cuts to courses and staff numbers are set to continue. The Government’s Smart and Skilled policy, due to commence next year, will result in further increases to student fees and courses being privatised through competitive tendering policies.
This Budget marks no departure from policies that undermine TAFE as the pre-eminent provider of vocational education and training. Federation will respond by intensifying the campaign for greater investment in TAFE in the lead-in to the March 2015 state election.
Another major concern is the failure to recognise the need for significant increases in funding for public school capital works and maintenance. In his review of schools funding, David Gonski found that, on average, independent schools spend three times and Catholic schools spend twice as much as governments spend on public school capital works and maintenance. This is clearly unacceptable, yet again the State Budget fails to deliver the funding needed to ensure all schools have quality buildings and facilities.