Minister throws down gauntlet on school funding

Minister throws down gauntlet on school funding

NSW Education Minister, Rob Stokes, says he will “very forcefully” argue for $7bn in additional funding for public schools when he meets with his federal counterpart today.

Speaking on ABC Radio yesterday, Stokes said that while he welcomed the Federal Government’s $4.6bn funding fix for Catholic and Independent schools announced last week, a “similar level of funding” needs to be provided to public schools as well.

“You can't have some schools that are more equal than others,” Stokes said.

Stokes claims the Federal Government’s latest decision on school funding runs counter to the key principles of the Gonski 2.0 funding model – a concern he said is shared by other state education ministers.

“We were all led to believe the deal we were negotiating was to be needs-based and sector-blind,” Stokes said.

“If we don't provide funding equally, we run the risk of entrenching inequality, and we will see the social impacts of that in 10 and 20 years’ time.”

As the latest impasse threatens to rekindle the school funding wars that the Federal Government has promised to end, the Centre for Independent Studies (CSI) said OECD data shows that distributing more money to schools is having little impact on students’ learning outcomes.

“We can still argue about how school funding can be better distributed or if some schools are underfunded. But Australia’s total school spending amount is enough,” Blaise Joseph, an education policy analyst at the CIS, said.

Federal Education Minister, Dan Tehan, said that while school funding is important, “it is not the be all and end all”.

“The money is only the means for us to achieve our goal, and our goal is for every Australian child to have an education that teaches them deep subject knowledge, essential literacy and numeracy skills, and gives them the skills and capabilities to achieve their potential,” Tehan told The Educator.

Tehan said the Education Council has agreed in-principle to progress the National School Reform Agreement to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), subject to the negotiation of bilateral agreements.

“We need to deliver the Gonski 2.0 reforms that will further improve educational outcomes and demand that the states do their part and support school teachers to do their job.”