The implementation of a Gonski needs-based funding model is an important development in the history of schools funding in NSW. Federation members are congratulated for their commitment and hard work over many years of campaigning to achieve this outcome.
The additional investment in NSW public schools of nearly $1.5 billion in 2014–2017 and a further $2.75 billion in 2018–2019 if the Abbott Government commits to deliver this funding, will be a most significant and much needed boost. It is unfortunate, however, that the NSW model will include the devolutionary mechanism known as the Resource Allocation Model (RAM).
As Federation has consistently stated over many years, devolving responsibility for staffing, resources and budgets to the school level enables governments to cut investment in public education, whilst shifting the blame for shortfalls and problems to local principals and staff.
The embedding of the RAM in the new model represents a serious threat to public school funding beyond the six years of the NSW National Education Reform Agreement (NERA). Governments have used such a mechanism for years to cut NSW TAFE to shreds.
While the increased Gonski funding may negate this damaging impact in the short term, the introduction of the RAM means government will have established a mechanism for longer term expenditure cuts beyond the duration of the NSW agreement. OECD reports confirm that such changes do not improve student outcomes.
Federation will continue to expose the motives behind the RAM and oppose it accordingly.