While last week’s release of the second major review into Australian education has been welcomed by education leaders, there are claims by others that it fails to address serious funding shortfalls.
The review, titled: ‘Through Growth to Achievement Report of the Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools’, calls for a shift away from ‘mass learning’ to ‘tailored education’ that provides students with more flexibility.
So far, the review has been welcomed by principals who see the overhaul as an opportunity for the Australian education system to de-clutter the curriculum and break free the controversial “one-size-fits-all” learning model.
However, the nation’s peak education union claims the long-awaited review fails to address “gaping resource shortages” facing public schools under the Gonski 2.0 funding model.
“The time for talk is over – the Turnbull Government must resolve the funding shortfall for public schools to ensure that they are at 100% of the Schooling Resource Standard [SRS],” Australian Education Union (AEU) president, Correna Haythorpe, said.
Haythorpe said next week’s Federal Budget will be “the first real test of whether the Turnbull Government is serious about implementing the recommendations in the review and reversing its cuts of the past”.
NSW Secondary Principals Council (NSWSPC) president, Chris Presland, said that while the report details a number of goals for boosting Australia’s educational performance, these measures would remain unattainable unless there was a commitment to funding being spent in the right places.
“We can commission report after report to investigate how to best equip students and teachers to achieve educational success, however what it comes down to is money and money being spent in the right places,” Presland said.
“There is strong evidence which shows schools are doing great things and that additional funding and resources have made a huge difference.”
Presland said one of the “great falsehoods” he has heard propagated by Australia’s politicians is that money doesn’t make a difference to educational outcomes.
“Our students will tell you how the extra support and assistance has shaped their educational aspirations and outcomes. If we are serious about maximising the learning growth of every student then we need to address funding inequity,” Presland said.
“It is only through strong systemic support for schools and an equitable funding model that we will ensure Australia’s rich educational heritage continues to challenge, support and enrich young people.”
On Friday, the COAG Education Council was briefed on the Review by David Gonski to inform a new national school reform agreement between federal, state and territory governments commencing in 2019.