Principals respond to controversial report

This week, a report from the Melbourne School of Government recommended that the running, funding and regulation of the nation’s schools were better off in the hands of the States and Territories than the Federal Government.

“Uncoordinated decision-making, a mismatch in revenue versus responsibilities, and unhelpful overlap in some roles has contributed to the exacerbation of disadvantage and inequities, limiting the effectiveness of government funding and programs,” Bronwyn Hinz, the report’s author, said.

“This poses dire consequences for individual students and the nation.”

However, some principals believe that the Gonski funding reforms already address many of the issues cited in the report, such as school funding and Federal-State coordination.

The NSW Secondary Principals’ Council (NSWSPC) represents 500 principals across NSW. The council’s president, Lila Mularczyk, told The Educator that many of the Federal Government’s current education policies were “founded in ill-informed principles and understandings.” 

“Many of the issues of coordination and control between Commonwealth and State, and consistent funding treatment of government and non-government schools were addressed in the Gonski funding reforms,” Mularczyk told The Educator.

While the Federal Government continues to rule out funding the full six years of the Gonski agreement, Mularczyk said the NSW Education Minister, Adrian Piccoli, was fulfilling his commitment to the funding reforms.

“Piccoli is leading the commitment to a state funding reform as previously agreed to by the Commonwealth. This is despite the Federal Coalition Government withdrawing from the agreed commitment,” Mularczyk said. 

Federal Education Minister, Christopher Pyne, has previously said improved teacher quality and school autonomy would create a better education system. However, Labor and the unions have urged a return to needs-based funding – a view shared by Mularczyk.

Mularczyk, who is also the principal of Merrylands High School, said an evidence-based funding reform was not only “the key to sustainability” but the most important issue in education, pointing to the need for the Federal Government to commit to the full six years of the Gonski agreement.

“The honouring of the full principles of Gonski is an imperative by the Commonwealth,” Mularczyk said.