The following is a report by Save Our Schools presented to the Tasmanian Branch of the Australian Education Union on the funding of public schools in Tasmania. It can be downloaded below.
Government funding of private schools in Tasmania has increased by seven times that for public schools in recent years. The Tasmanian Labor Government slashed state funding for public schools between 2009-10 and 2013-14 and the Liberal Government cut further in 2014-15. Overall, public school funding increased slightly but this was due to increased Commonwealth funding and it was far outstripped by a large increase in total government funding of private schools.
Despite its claim that it is delivering on the state’s commitment to the six-year Gonski funding plan, the figures from the Productivity Commission’s latest Report on Government Services (ROGS) show that the Hodgman Liberal Government failed to honour its commitment in its first year of office. It cut funding per student, adjusted for inflation, in both public and private schools.
The latest results from the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) show that Tasmania has the worst school results in Australia with high proportions of students not achieving international minimum standards. Results have continued to decline since 2009. Low socio-economic status (SES) and Indigenous students are up to four years behind their high SES peers and large proportions do not achieve expected minimum standards. Tasmania has the largest proportion of low SES students in Australia and 85% attend public schools.
Continued under-resourcing of Tasmanian public schools will make it virtually impossible to reverse the long-term decline in student results in Tasmania or reduce the high proportion of disadvantaged students not achieving expected standards and the very large achievement gaps between advantaged and disadvantaged students.
Funding the final years of Gonski is critical for public schools and the future achievement of disadvantaged students. Gonski must be resurrected, not further demolished, at the forthcoming meeting of the national education ministers’ council.