Save Our Schools today called on the Gonski Review of School Funding to use its commissioned research reports as the foundation for a new school funding model. In releasing its submission on the reports, the national convenor of SOS, Trevor Cobbold, said that Review Committee should disregard the hysterical reaction of private school organisations to the reports.
“The reports are a sound beginning for a new approach to school funding to improve equity in education outcomes which the Review Committee should build on in making its final recommendations to government.
“The fundamental message from the research reports is that reducing inequity in education is the major challenge facing the Australian education system. Too many children are missing out on a decent education and there are shockingly large achievement gaps between rich and poor.
“The reports show that government schools, which enrol the vast majority of low socio-economic status, Indigenous, and remote area students, are not adequately funded to meet their challenges.
“The hysterical reaction of private school lobbies to the reports shows how morally indefensible their position is. The injustice and incoherence of the current model for funding private schools has been thoroughly exposed during the review and they cannot face the facts.
“Their hysterics are designed to preserve a funding system that is rigged to support the wealthiest schools in the country. It delivers millions and millions of dollars annually to schools that have two to three times the resources of government schools serving the neediest populations in Australia.”
Mr. Cobbold said that the Allen Consulting report provides the basis for a new funding approach. However, he said that while it has similar features to the model proposed to the review by SOS, there are omissions and flaws which should be corrected.
“The positive aspect of the Allen report is that it proposes the adoption of a national resource standard (NRS) which estimates the resources necessary to achieve expected national education outcomes. It also finds that it is possible to determine loadings to be applied to the NRS to meet learning needs arising from social and education disadvantage. These are fundamental aspects of any model directed at improving equity.
“However, the report’s proposals do not constitute a full funding model because it fails to:
• Clearly define equity objectives in education;
• Consider what should happen to government funding for schools whose private income exceeds the NRS;
• Adapt the NRS to an integrated national school funding model.
“There are also several flaws in the Allen model which should be corrected. In particular:
• Its proposal that the NRS be determined by the resources available to reference schools in which 80% of students achieve national literacy and numeracy benchmarks is way too low, being well below existing average national outcomes;
• The measure of school outcomes is limited to NAPLAN results and should be extended to include Year 12 outcomes;
• System costs should be included in a national resource standard; and
• The resources available to high socio-economic status government schools should be used as a simple and transparent measure of the efficient costs of achieving high average national education outcomes.
The SOS submission is also very critical of the Allen report’s approach to determining the loadings for social and education disadvantage to be applied to the NRS.
“The report has failed to acknowledge research findings which show that funding for low SES and other disadvantaged students should be up to double or more the average funding per student and that there should be additional loadings for schools with high concentrations of disadvantage.
“The Allen approach will cause the loadings to be much too low and government funding to improve equity in education will remain inadequate.”
Mr Cobbold said that the Gonski Review has set its own standard by which its recommendations will be judged.
“Improving equity in education is the standard the Committee set for itself at the outset of the review. It has an historic opportunity to deliver better education outcomes for the most disadvantaged groups in the country. It is hoped that it won’t bungle this opportunity.”