Federal Education Minister, Simon Birmingham, has responded to Labor’s announcement today that it would honour the full six years of the needs-based Gonski funding model.
In a statement this afternoon, Minister Birmingham said that Labor’s policy was “short on detail” and “repeats the previous mistakes in education policy”. He also warned that Labor’s plan would drive the budget deficit even higher than current levels.
“Labor’s schools press release fails the basic lesson of the last decade – more money doesn’t automatically equal better student outcomes,” he said.
Earlier today, Federal Labor leader, Bill Shorten, took to social media to pledge the “largest school funding boost in two generations”.
“My shadow colleagues and I have been talking about the largest boost for school funding in Australia in two generations. We’re calling it ‘your child, our future’,” Shorten said in a statement on social media.
“We want to make sure that every school is a great school and that we do the most important thing we can, which is to provide a good education for our kids.
“We want to make sure that our kids are getting the best quality education in the world and that what our children learn at school gives them the best start in life for the jobs of the future.”
However, Minister Birmingham said Labor’s reforms were simply a mirror of the Coalition’s existing policies which were making inroads in STEM, supporting students with a disability and engaging with parents.
“Many of Labor’s so called ‘reforms’ in relation to teacher quality, increased focus on STEM, engaging with parents and providing record supports for students with disabilities are already being implemented by the Coalition,” Birmingham said.
Birmingham said total State and Federal spending on schools grew by more than 100% in real terms between 1987/88 and 2011/12 yet Australia had “gone backwards” in absolute and relative terms, including in international literacy and numeracy rankings.
“The Turnbull Government is putting in more money than ever before, but we are making sure that it is being used where it counts – in teacher quality, in a better curriculum, in parental engagement, in supporting principals to make local decisions about their local school,” he said.
“Schools funding under the Commonwealth and under this Coalition government has always been needs based.”