Prime Minister Tony Abbott must heed the recommendations of a Senate inquiry into schools funding which has backed the full six years of needs-based Gonski funding, the Australian Education Union (AEU) said.
AEU Deputy Federal President Correna Haythorpe said the findings of the inquiry reflected the views of thousands of teachers, students and principals who had made submissions calling for the Gonski funding to be delivered in full.
“The inquiry has made it clear that the Coalition’s plan to abandon Gonski will have a detrimental impact on students across Australia,” she said.
“As the inquiry’s report states: ‘Unless governments and schools can make long-term decisions and target those groups of students most in need, the gap between the disadvantaged and the advantaged in the Australian school system will increase.’”
“There needs to be a long term commitment to Gonski and the six years of funding needed to ensure every school has the resources to educate every student to a high level.
“The inquiry found what we have now under the Abbott Government is a mess: no commitment to the six years of funding or to work cooperatively with the states and territories, the abandonment of the Gonski model after four years and real cuts in funding every year after that totalling $30 billion over a decade.
“The Senate inquiry’s report said the Gonski Review and the needs-based funding it recommended was a “fundamental benchmark in the history of school funding in Australia” which demonstrated the link between education outcomes and investment in the school sector.
“The inquiry also called for a lift to funding for students with disability, and greater transparency in how schools funding is spent.
“Growing international evidence shows the importance of equity in achieving excellence across a system, yet Australia seems to be moving further away from this as the Abbott Government abandons Gonski agreements with the States,” Haythorpe said.
“The inquiry has also called on the Abbott Government to keep its abandoned promise to institute a ‘disability loading’ that recognises the true cost of educating students with disability from 2015, citing the urgent need among students with disability.
“Up to 100,000 children with disability may be missing out due to a lack of funding, and the Abbott Government has failed to honour its 2013 election promise to replace the temporary loading with a needs-based one,” Haythorpe said.
“This broken promise is causing ongoing pain to thousands of children with disability who are being denied the chance of a decent education.”
“The AEU supports the recommendation that the Commonwealth work to ensure state and territory governments that did not sign up to Gonski contribute towards the cost of getting all schools to a national resourcing standard.
“We also support the call for greater transparency about where school funding dollars go and are concerned that the Abbott Government is working to reduce accountability by changing the Australian Education Act,” Haythorpe said.
“Some state governments are clearly pocketing the Gonski funding and kids are missing out as a result.
“The Abbott Government must listen to the Senate, and the thousands of principals, parents, teachers and community members who have contributed to this inquiry, and commit to the full six years of needs-based Gonski funding.”