Biloela teach­ers get on board with Gon­ski cam­paign

Central Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE - An­drew Thorpe an­drew.thorpe@news­re­gional­me­

BILOELA teach­ers spoke with a loud, clear voice on Wed­nes­day as they backed ed­u­ca­tion unions in their cam­paign call­ing on the Fed­eral Govern­ment to com­mit to the next two years of schools’ fund­ing rec­om­mended in the Gon­ski re­view.

Cathie Den­dle and Matt Sahlqvist will join the cam­paign in Can­berra later this month to take the fight right up to our politi­cians.

A BRIGHT green bus rolled into Biloela on Tues­day – and plenty of teach­ers were ea­ger to get on board.

The ‘I Give a Gon­ski’ bus tour is part of a na­tional cam­paign by ed­u­ca­tion unions call­ing on the Fed­eral Govern­ment to com­mit to the next two years of schools fund­ing rec­om­mended in the 2011 Gon­ski re­view.

The fund­ing, pro­vided di­rectly to schools on a needs ba­sis af­ter a min­i­mum amount is reached, was due to ramp up in 2018 and 2019 un­der the re­port’s ini­tial rec­om­men­da­tions.

But the Coali­tion has re­fused to com­mit to the orig­i­nal fund­ing model for the next two years, with Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Si­mon Birm­ing­ham say­ing it had been “cor­rupted” by in­di­vid­ual deals with state gov­ern­ments.

Cen­tral Queens­land or­gan­iser for the Queens­land Teach­ers Union Dan Coxen, a for­mer deputy prin­ci­pal at Biloela State High School, said Gon­ski fund­ing was al­ready mak­ing a dif­fer­ence in Biloela schools and called on the govern­ment to keep its pre­vi­ous com­mit­ments to the Gon­ski model.

“For the last three years, ev­ery be­gin­ning teacher in Queens­land has had two hours of re­lief time and sup­port from an ex­pe­ri­enced teacher, and that’s mak­ing a huge dif­fer­ence in Biloela,” Mr Coxen said.

“Last year at Biloela State High School, ev­ery Year 12 stu­dent left with a Queens­land Cer­tifi­cate of Ed­u­ca­tion, and that was run­ning at about 67% four years ago.

“If you look at what the school has done in the last five or six years, it’s been on a tra­jec­tory of ex­cel­lent stu­dent out­comes, and that’s come about with Gon­ski funds.”

Mr Coxen said cuts to needs- based fund­ing could put at risk the coun­try’s 15 hours of com­pul­sory kinder­garten at­ten­dance.

“Four years ago in Queens­land, 65% of stu­dents of el­i­gi­ble age were do­ing at least 15 hours of kindy a week, and the fund­ing has brought that num­ber up to 98.5%,” he said.

Mr Coxen said Queens­land was de­liv­er­ing Gon­ski fund­ing to schools in its purest form, with ad­di­tional money based on need go­ing di­rectly to schools as dis­cre­tionary pay­ments with no strings at­tached.

“Lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties are mak­ing de­ci­sions about what’s best for their school in their own con­text,” he said.

Un­der the Gon­ski model, schools are funded to a min­i­mum stan­dard af­ter which load­ings are al­lo­cated based on five forms of iden­ti­fied dis­ad­van­tage – low so­cio-eco­nomic back­grounds, in­dige­nous back­grounds, ru­ral or small schools, stu­dents with lim­ited English and stu­dents with dis­abil­i­ties.

Many schools in Ba­nana Shire sat­isfy all five cri­te­ria.

Union rep­re­sen­ta­tive Cathie Den­dle said Biloela State School had been able to hire ex­tra staff to help meet the needs of chil­dren in those five high-risk ar­eas, as well as em­ploy a teacher to work with lo­cal kinder­gartens on stu­dents’ tran­si­tion to Prep.

“(If the fund­ing were cut) it would be quite dev­as­tat­ing be­cause the in­for­ma­tion is there to show this will make a real dif­fer­ence, and it has been mak­ing a dif­fer­ence in our school,” she said.

“This is our chance to see schools funded with a model that will work and con­tin­ues to work.”

Mrs Den­dle and fel­low Biloela QTU mem­ber Matt Sahlqvist will travel to Can­berra on March 22 to con­tinue to drive home the mes­sage.

“I’ll be talk­ing to politi­cians, ex­plain­ing some of these real-life sto­ries about how Gon­ski fund­ing makes a huge dif­fer­ence ev­ery day in our schools,” she said.

Flynn MP Ken O’Dowd said the cam­paign was dis­hon­est as Com­mon­wealth fund­ing for ed­u­ca­tion was grow­ing at a faster rate than state fund­ing.

“The truth is that we have had needs-based fund­ing for our schools since the 1970s and cur­rent fund­ing con­tin­ues to in­crease at record lev­els,” he said.

“Ed­u­ca­tion is the foun­da­tion of our econ­omy and is too im­por­tant to al­low it to be rail­roaded by the unions.”

But Mr Coxen said it was the schools that needed the most help that were most con­cerned.

“We know we’ll get an op­er­a­tional bud­get for schools, schools are still go­ing to have to run,” he said.

“What we’re con­cerned about is the ad­di­tional money that’s mak­ing the real dif­fer­ence.”

Gon­ski fund­ing makes a huge dif­fer­ence ev­ery day in our schools — Cathie Den­dle, Queens­land Teach­ers Union


DRIV­ING UP SUP­PORT: QTU Cen­tral Queens­land or­gan­iser Dan Coxen (left) with Biloela QTU rep­re­sen­ta­tives Jenny McLeod, Kate Cross and Cathie Den­dle.


FULL SUP­PORT: Biloela high school teach­ers are sup­port­ing the cam­paign.

Biloela QTU rep­re­sen­ta­tives Cathie Den­dle (left) and Jenny McLeod (right) with deputy gen­eral sec­re­tary Brendan Crotty.

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