Gillard Turns Her Back on the Disadvantaged

The highlight of the Gonski report is its well-founded and important recommendation that Australia needs to spend an additional $5 billion a year on schools, predominantly government schools, so that they can address the issue of disadvantage. When all the figures are finalised, more may be needed, but as the reports says:

Australia must aspire to have a schooling system that is among the best in the world for its quality and equity, and must prioritise support for its lowest performing students. Every child should have access to the best possible education, regardless of where they live, the income of their family or the school they attend. [p. xiv]

The lowlight was that in her response to this vision, the Prime Minister repeatedly and pointedly refused to commit to the additional funding. Instead, she proposed further reviews and community discussions. She did not even promise to provide the funding when the budget was in surplus, as Tony Abbott did when he committed to a dental health care scheme. She simply turned her back on the disadvantaged.

So much for the rhetoric about closing the gap and ensuring that wealth does not determine educational outcomes.

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Gonski Review Should Terminate Funding Bonanza for the Wealthy

The SES funding model is providing millions and millions of dollars in over-funding to many of Melbourne’s more privileged families and schools. In 2011, 20 primary and secondary schools in high income suburbs were over-funded by $43 million (see table below).

Total Federal Government funding for these schools was nearly double what they were entitled to under the SES scheme. Under the scheme they were only entitled to $48.7 million, but instead they got $91.8 million.

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Fund Disadvantaged Students and Everyone Benefits

The latest national literacy and numeracy results (NAPLAN) show that government education policies have had little to no impact on student achievement in Australia since 2008. There has been virtually no change in overall average results, in the results of disadvantaged students and in the large gaps between the results of disadvantaged and advantaged students. Governments are failing disadvantaged students and their families.

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New OECD Report Calls for Greater Fairness in Education

An OECD report on equity and quality in education to be released this week will add pressure on the Australian Government to come up with a more equitable system of school funding. The report says that students from low socio-economic status (SES) backgrounds are twice as likely to have low results as other students. It recommends that governments should better target funding for disadvantaged students. Continue reading “New OECD Report Calls for Greater Fairness in Education”

It is Government Schools Which Are Under-Funded, Not Private Schools

The National Catholic Education Commission has called for more funding for Catholic schools by the Federal Government. It says there is a resource gap between Catholic schools and government schools and that government funding of government schools has been increasing faster than for private schools.

This claim ignores the much higher level of disadvantage in government schools compared to Catholic and other private schools. Government schools do the heavy lifting in education and they should have more resources than private schools. Their funding should be increasing faster than private schools if the achievement gaps between rich and poor, between Indigenous and non-Indigenous and between remote area and metropolitan students are to be reduced. Continue reading “It is Government Schools Which Are Under-Funded, Not Private Schools”

School Funding Should be Better Directed at Reducing Disadvantage

The following is a summary of a confidential submission to the Gonski Review of School Funding commissioned by state government education departments. It was written by Professor Richard Teese from the University of Melbourne. It says that the Australian school system has become segregated between rich and poor with government funding being spent on supporting school choice rather than reducing the achievement gap between rich and poor.

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Fee Increases Outstrip Cost Increases in Elite Private Schools in Queensland

School fees in Queensland’s elite private schools have increased by nearly 6% in 2012. Fees at Brisbane Boys Grammar and Girls Grammar are approaching $20,000. At the same time, they are raking in millions of dollars in government funding. Continue reading “Fee Increases Outstrip Cost Increases in Elite Private Schools in Queensland”

Private School Funding Figures are a Shambles

The official figures on government funding of private schools are a shambles. Even the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) is confused. Its latest National Report on Schooling in Australia presents two contrasting sets of figures on private school funding.

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Govt. Funding Increases Have Favoured the Wealthiest Schools

New figures show that Australia’s wealthiest school sector received the biggest increases in government funding over much of the past decade. Government funding of Independent schools has increased by nearly double the rate of increase for government schools since 2001-02. It has left Independent schools much better resourced than government schools. Continue reading “Govt. Funding Increases Have Favoured the Wealthiest Schools”

National Equity Funding Programs are too ‘Hit and Miss’

A report published by the Australian Primary Principals Association provides some revealing insights into the targeting and funding of low income students under the Smarter Schools National Partnerships. The lead author of the study said that the programs are too ‘hit and miss’.

The findings suggest that the programs are unlikely to lead to any significant improvement in outcomes for low income and low achieving students. The amount of funding per school and student is small; it is not well targeted as many students and schools miss out and is not being used in the most effective ways. Continue reading “National Equity Funding Programs are too ‘Hit and Miss’”