Ensure Gonski loadings aid additional needs students

Gary Zadkovich
Deputy President

Federation has pressed the Department of Education and Communities to establish an effective accountability framework for the expenditure of the Gonski loadings for students with additional needs.

This increased funding includes money previously allocated through limited duration equity programs for students from low socio-economic status backgrounds and Aboriginal students, as well as for students requiring additional assistance to achieve English language proficiency and students with a disability. Further loadings are also to be implemented to school location and size.

While the Department has established the Equity Funding Work Group in response to the union’s request for an accountability framework, after two meetings and many weeks, it is still not able to show how schools are accounting for funding they received for the 2014 school year to support students from low socio-economic status (SES) backgrounds and Aboriginal students.

This is a matter of serious concern, especially in the context of the current campaign to convince the Abbott Government to fund the fifth and sixth years of the NSW Gonski agreement.

Federation believes that an accountability framework should be developed that requires schools to implement a two phase, before-and-after process.

Before any money is allocated or spent, schools should determine strategies and expenditure according to the relevant Department policy for supporting students with disability, students from low SES backgrounds, Aboriginal students, those who need additional support to achieve proficiency in English language, and students who attend schools in rural and remote locations.

When deciding how to spend the additional funding, schools should utilise appropriate support materials, resources, expert advice, and examples of outstanding practice and programs that the Department has a responsibility to provide.

After implementing strategies that utilise the increased funding for students with additional needs, schools should then evaluate and report on the degree to which student outcomes have been improved and objectives consistent with the NSW National Education Reform Agreement (NERA) have been achieved.

Federation believes it is essential that the Department takes action to ensure an accountability framework as above is implemented forthwith.

Accordingly, Federation has written to Education Minister Adrian Piccoli with the following appeal: “All those who have worked so hard to achieve the Gonski school funding reforms, including you as NSW Minister for Education, have a responsibility to ensure that any additional funding provided to schools benefits the students for whom it is intended, and facilitates the narrowing and eventual closing of the achievement gaps between students and schools.”