Govt pledges $1.2bn for schools…but there’s a catch

The Federal Government has pledged $1.2bn for schools in the lead-up to the 2016 Budget – but there are strings attached.
In order to receive funding, schools will have to undergo literacy and numeracy checks for students in Year 1 and minimum standards for students to pass Year 12.

Under the plan, teachers will be paid based on their competency rather than their length of service.
The extra money, which will be allocated between 2018 and 2020, is part of a broader $73.6bn schools package to be included in the 2016 Budget.

Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull said that the government wanted taxpayer funds to support the “best-performing teachers” and basic skills for children.

“Their future depends on great teachers and on having the skills that they need to be able to take advantage of the enormous opportunity of the 21st-century economy,” he said.

While the $1.2bn figure is significantly less than Labor's promised $4.5bn increase in funding for 2018 and 2019, some have welcomed the announcement as providing peace of mind for struggling schools.
“This indexation decision, which will result in an additional $1.2bn for schools over the period 2018 to 2020 compared to the current forward estimates, provides certainty for schools in terms of forward planning,” said Independent Schools Queensland (ISQ) executive director, David Robertson.
However, the NSW Secondary Principals Council (NSWSPC) did not share this view.
In a statement today, NSWSPC president, Lila Mularczyk, said the Federal Government’s plan ignored the students most in need.
“Today our PM has rejected the entitlement of every child in an Australian school to access quality needs-based education. Prime Minister Turnbull has abandoned students most in need,” she said.
Mularczyk added the Gonski Review provided “a thoroughly researched” series of school funding recommendations for all students across the three school sectors.
“Students in my school and thousands of other young people in our schools nationally will not get the individual and relevant additional learning support that they need and deserve to have life opportunities”, she said.
“Gonski resourcing in NSW schools is showing significant improvements in student learning. The young people most in need are accessing targeted learning support as highlighted by the evidence shared in recent years by NSW school principals.”

NSW Teachers Federation President, Maurie Mulheron, called the Federal Government’s plan “a bitter blow to parents, teachers and principals” who were hoping that the issue of schools funding could be dealt with in a bipartisan manner.

“Despite the years of research that informed the Gonski Review findings and the current evidence that the additional resourcing is working, the Federal Government today announced it will scuttle the needs-based funding model,” Mulheron said.

Private school heads said they expect the Federal Government’s funding plan to “help maintain the real value of funding to independent schools”.
Independent Schools Council of Australia (ICSA) executive director, Colette Colman, said the plan was “critical to ensuring the ongoing affordability and sustainability of Independent schools”.
“Independent schools are funded through a partnership between parents and school communities, the Commonwealth Government and state and territory governments,” she said.