The State Governments of NSW and Victoria have slammed the Federal Government’s Gonski 2.0 reforms, claiming that their schools will be left worse off under new funding arrangements.
A recent analysis by the Victorian Education Department warned that more than 70 of the state’s schools would be $1m worse off over the next two years as a result of the reforms.
Meanwhile, NSW Education Minister, Rob Stokes, is warning that he may consider court action if the Federal Government reneged on its existing funding agreements with the state.
Straining the relationship further, NSW Education secretary, Mark Scott, sent an email to principals on Wednesday warning them not to trust the Federal Government's new school funding calculator.
The Online Estimator allows parents, families and schools to see how they will benefit from the additional $18.6bn investment in Australian schools.
Scott said the estimates do not account for increases in teacher salaries or other cost growth over the next decade and it incorrectly assumed that every school would receive the same funding increase under Gonski 2.0.
“You should not rely on these figures for future planning or budgeting purposes,” he said in the email.
Secretary of the Commonwealth Department of Education and Training, Dr Michele Bruniges, quickly hit back at Scott, asking him to correct what she called “a number of factual inaccuracies”.
Bruniges said the recent information provided to schools accurately reflected the needs of each school, based on demographic data.
However, the NSW Teachers Federation (NSWTF) released calculations last week which showed the state’s public schools would lose $846m over the next two years under the Federal Government’s funding plan.
The NSWTF based its claim on the difference between what NSW would have received in 2018 and 2019 if Canberra had agreed to fully fund the final two years of Labor’s Gonski model — which it didn’t — compared with the new federal schools model.
The Australian Education Union (AEU) Victorian branch says parents, teachers, principals and support staff have been “appalled” to find that Victorian schools will lose $630m under the Federal Government’s new school funding plan.
In a statement, AEU Victoria branch president, Meredith Peace, said the most disadvantaged students in Victorian classrooms will bear the brunt of these cuts.
“New Victorian Government figures show 1535 Victorian schools will be worse off in 2018 and 2019 under the Turnbull Government plan,” Peace said.
“Victorian schools face a $630m shortfall. Schools like Hoppers Crossing Secondary, Wellington Secondary, Tarneit P-9 College and McKinnon Secondary College will all lose funding.”
Catholic schools are also claiming that they will be hard hit under the Federal Government’s plan.
The Catholic Education Office Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn have released modelling that shows Sydney and Melbourne Catholic schools may have to hike fees by $5,000 and $4,000 respectively over the next five years to cope with the changes.
Despite the outcry, Federal Education Minister, Simon Birmingham, insists the Coalition’s funding model is fair and urged critics of the Coalition’s funding plan to move on from “scare tactics”.
“These sorts of scare tactics are the reasons why we need to end school funding wars and embrace the Turnbull Government’s Gonski recommendations and reforms,” Birmingham said.
“We’re putting in place an extra $3.8bn for NSW schools, and rather than trying to scare parents or others, the unions, the states, the representatives of different schools should support reform.”
He said the Federal Government’s reforms have been welcomed by bodies such as the Australian Primary Principals Association (APPA), parental representatives from state school organisations and by many independent school representative bodies.
Polls show that 86% of all voters support the reforms, with just 12% opposed.