The Federal Government has confirmed that its review of the low SES funding loadings is not open to the public and is confined to selected invitees. Trevor Cobbold, National Convenor of Save Our Schools, said today that SOS has received formal notification from the Federal Department of Education that it is not invited to make a submission on the loadings.
“SOS, along with the general public and other smaller school organisations, is excluded from the review. Correspondence received by SOS from the Department states that “this is not a public review”. It suggests that we approach state education authorities or national peak bodies on the selected invitation list to provide our information, but not the Department.
“One wonders what the Government has to fear from public submissions. It might learn something about inequity in education and the funding loadings needed to address it.
“Certainly, Christopher Pyne has much to learn. He even denies that Australia has an equity problem despite all the evidence presented by the Gonski review of school funding.
“The review is an issue for all principals, teachers and parents in schools with a large proportion of low SES students. The Government should be willing to hear directly from these people about the loadings needed and how they would make a difference in their school.”
Mr. Cobbold said that there is widespread concern amongst public school organisations that the loadings may be reduced, if not removed.
“The terms of reference for the review clearly indicate that the loadings are open to be changed. It states, among other things, that the review will consider “the intent of the Low SES loading” and “the current structure and operation of the Low SES loading as it related to evidence of educational disadvantage”.
“The correspondence we received from the Department of Education also opens up the possibility that the loadings may be changed. It says, in part, that organisations that “may be impacted should a change to the LSES loading be recommended” were invited to participate in consultations and the submission process.
“SOS is utterly opposed to any reduction of the loadings. They are way below what is needed as it is. There is compelling research evidence that the loadings should be substantially increased to provide the necessary funding to ensure that all low SES students achieve expected standards of education.
“At present, the maximum loading of an extra 50 per cent over the national resource standard applies to only three per cent of the 844,000 low SES students in Australian schools. This means an extra $4,635 per primary student and $6,096 per secondary student for just a tiny proportion of students. All other low SES students get less additional funding and the large proportion gets much less.
“In contrast, the consensus of the research evidence is that the loadings should be at least double the national resource standard. The effect would be to provide all low SES students with additional funding of $9,271 per primary student and $12,193 per secondary student.”
Mr. Cobbold said that SOS would be making an uninvited submission to the review to make the case for higher funding loadings for low SES students.
“SOS will make the case for a Gonski Plus set of funding loadings for low SES students.”