This year Gonski funding is starting to flow into NSW schools. But it is only a fraction of the $5 billion due to be delivered over the next six years to bring all schools up to a minimum resource standard.
The schools benefiting the most in the first year will be those with high proportions of disadvantaged students.
As was evident with the use of National Partnership funding, the additional resources will be used to improve the individual support and attention children receive, provide quality professional development, increase the release time for beginning teachers and their mentors and deepen the school focus on effective pedagogy.
But unlike National Partnership funding which had a short shelf-life, Gonski funding is recurrent. This should enable the system to engage in long-term strategic planning despite the impediment of the Local Schools, Local Decisions model imposed by the NSW Treasury.
Abbott Government still not committed
The problem continues to be the refusal of the Abbott Government to fund the full six years of the NSW Gonski agreement.
Despite Tony Abbott’s pre-election claim that he was on a “unity ticket” with then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on schools funding, he has only committed the money for four years which amounts to less than a third of the total investment required from the Federal Government.
Parents and teachers across NSW have been taking part in I Give a Gonski campaign activities since school went back to pressure Mr Abbott to change that position in the May Federal Budget.
They are also calling for the Budget to include better funding for students with disabilities as promised by Mr Abbott in Opposition.
Specially equipped Gonski vans have been travelling around NSW as part of a 23,000km national tour that finishes tomorrow.
To coincide with the arrival of the vans in towns and cities there have been school and community forums, BBQs, information days, street stalls, markets and gatherings outside the offices of Coalition MPs.
The message has been the same in every town and suburb visited: our children are worth the investment. No child should have his or her opportunity to succeed in life compromised by an unfair funding system that denies our schools the resources they need.
Community members are being encouraged to become involved in the campaign which will continue until full funding for the NSW Gonski six-year agreement is secured.
The first step to getting involved in the campaign is to register your support on the website, www.igiveagonski.com.au. All subscribers to the site will be kept informed of what is happening, particularly in their local area. Supporters of a fairer funding model can also join the thriving Facebook community at www.facebook.com/igiveagonski.