EXCLUSIVE: Silence in national Gonski debate “appalling and disappointing”

Remember the Gonski debate? With so little being said about it lately you might be forgiven for saying ‘No’.

This is one reason why NSW Secondary Principal Council (SPC) president, Lila Mularczyk used the words “appalling” and “disappointing” to describe the lack of public discussion around what was two years ago the most talked about issue in education.    

When The Educator asked Mularczyk why she thought debate over the Gonski funding initiative has been largely under-reported, she was unequivocal.

“It is appalling and most disappointing that at a national level, there appears to be a lack of public discourse on Gonski,” Mularczyk told The Educator.

“This is our responsibility as educators and social commentators to maintain a strong focus on ensuring the principles of Gonski are honoured. Our children in all schools, states and territories now and into the future need and deserve the framework of Gonski resource recommendations.

“There can be no excuse.”

The Federal Government has distanced itself from the existing Gonski agreement, saying that it will negotiate new agreements with the states from 2018 that will allocate funding according to student enrolments and inflation only.

However, Mularczyk was hopeful that State Government initiatives such as Great Teaching Inspired Learning (GTIL) and the Rural and Remote Education report would continue to help the state’s schools improve.
Highlighting the importance of the latter report, Mularczyk explained how it is already achieving results in struggling rural communities.

“The Rural and Remote Education report is about addressing the need for schools to have more appropriate connectivity electronically and resourcing such as staff incentives and professional learning opportunities, Mularczyk said.

“It also allows access to services to ensure that the gap is closed between student achievements in rural remote communities as opposed to urban and metropolitan areas.

“There are a whole host of things developed over the last two years that are now in place and working, and though no one expects a miracle overnight, you can already start to see a difference being made in these communities.”

As for the SPC’s priorities in 2015, principal wellbeing understandably ranked at the top of the list, followed by pursuing stronger action on Gonski funding.

“The SPC’s priorities are principal wellbeing and ensuring that there is a Gonski legacy that is effective and substantial,” Mularczyk said.

“I’m not talking about six years, I’m talking about six years plus. It needs to be a sustainable resourcing of all schools and all students across Australia.”