Just how much change to schools will a new government bring?

Just how much change to schools will a new government bring?

On Thursday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison rubber-stamped May 18 as the date that Australia will head to the polls to elect a new leader.

Education promises to be one of the key battlegrounds of the federal election, with both sides of parliament claiming they have the better plan for the nation’s schools. However, one expert says the Coalition and Labor have more in common on education policy than they would like to admit.

Glenn C. Savage, a senior lecturer in education policy and sociology of education at the University of Western Australia, said that while the Coalition sees the agreement as heralding a positive new reform era, deals done with states to get it over the line are “far from ideal”.

“This is especially the case in the fraught area of school funding,” Savage wrote in The Conversation.

The agreement ensures that by 2023, private schools will receive 100% of the recommended amount under the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) funding model, whereas most government schools will be stuck at 95%.

“The states share a great deal of the blame, but it’s not a good look for a federal government promoting a commitment to needs-based funding,” he said.

Savage noted that while a Labor government would change some elements of the national reform conversation, the extent to which it would radically shift the current trajectory is “debatable”.

He said that while Labor has promised further school funding increases and flagged other reforms, the party “shares a great deal in common with the Coalition”.

“Both preference a strong federal role in schooling, and support [at least in theory] the principles of the SRS, and there is significant alignment between parties when it comes to reforms in the National School Reform Agreement,” he said.

“Labor has also been promoting the idea of a national evidence institute for some time and many reforms in the school reform agreement build directly on those established by Labor as part of its ‘education revolution’ agenda from 2007-2013.”

Savage concluded by saying that “while the parties will draw dividing lines to make a choice between them look stark, they have more in common than they would like to admit”.