Specialist education settings need a different RAM

Gary Zadkovich
Deputy President

Federation has written to the Department requesting negotiation of an alternative methodology for allocating funding to specialist education settings under the Resource Allocation Model (RAM).

While it may be possible for the Department to determine a viable RAM methodology for allocating Gonski funding loadings for students with additional needs (low socio-economic status, Aboriginality, ESL, disability, school location and size) in mainstream, regular schools, Federation believes this approach cannot be replicated for specialist educational settings with fluctuating or transient enrolments. These settings include Intensive English Centres, hospital schools, environmental education centres, education and training units in juvenile justice centres, distance education centres and schools for specific purposes (SSPs) for students with behavioural and mental health support needs.

The problem is illustrated when considering how the Department is to allocate a funding loading for a low socio-economic status student, when that student may attend an environmental education centre for five days, or spend a month in a hospital school, or be enrolled for two school terms in an SSP before returning to their regular school.

Federation is seeking to negotiate a RAM methodology for these specialist settings that accounts for their particular nature, purpose and operation, and ensures that they too will have increased funding that enhances their capacity to better meet student needs, consistent with the objectives of the NSW Gonski agreement and their important contribution to quality public education.