Gonski 2.0: Delivering needs-based funding
“EVERY SCHOOL WILL RECEIVE COMMONWEALTH FUNDING ON A GENUINE NEEDS BASIS CONSISTENTLY ACROSS AUSTRALIA, AS DAVID GONSKI RECOMMENDED IN HIS REPORT SIX YEARS AGO.”
PRIME Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s Gonski
2.0 scheme will increase school funding over the next decade and attempt to move past decades of funding wars and political impasse.
Under the new Quality Schools Initiative, total Federal funding for private and public schools will rise from $17.5 billion this year, to $22.1 billion by 2021 and $30.6 billion by
9000 schools nationwide will be better off, while 350 will have slower funding growth than they expected and 24 of the nations’ wealthiest will have funding cut from next year.
The Commonwealth will provide 20 per cent of public school funding, up from the current 17 per cent.
This will end the 27 different school funding agreements the Coalition inherited from Labor, replacing them with national needs-based funding across Government and non-government schools.
The Gonksi report in 2011 saw the previous Labour Government adopt the needs based funding model, but separate deals with different States and Territories and school sectors meant there was no nationally consistent approach.
The model provides additional support for students from low socio-economic backgrounds, those with disabilities, those who come from non-english speaking backgrounds, and smaller rural and regional remote schools.
In a press conference with minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham, Mr Turnbull said the reforms would ensure funding was needs-based and fair across the board.
“Every school will receive Commonwealth funding on a genuine needs basis consistently across Australia, as David Gonski recommended in his report six years ago,” Mr Turnbull said.
“We will ensure that all schools and States transition to an equitable funding model within a decade.
“It will ensure that the same student with the same needs will be treated exactly the same in terms of Commonwealth funding, no matter which State they reside in or the school system in which they’re being educated,” he said.
David Gonski will be providing high level advice to the Government on how the extra funding should be used by Australian schools to improve their performance and student outcomes.
“I am very honoured to be asked to chair another report, whether you call it Gonski 2.0 or whatever, and I look forward to it because I believe that we can do good things with the additional money, and I’m very pleased that there is substantial additional money, even over indexation and in the foreseeable future,” said Mr Gonski.
Mr Gonski will be chairing an independent panel that will draw on the expertise of teachers, education experts and academics with a final report expected in November, ahead of the negotiation of new school reform agreements with States and Territories in the first half of 2018.
The 10 year transition period is aimed to give schools the time to adjust.
The schools furthest behind will receive the fastest funding increase as the Government moves towards consistently funding 20 per cent of the schooling resource standard for Government schools and 80 per cent for non-government schools.
Indexation will initially grow faster than real costs to give education authorities certainty, with the Government honouring its 2016 budget commitment to grow the funding standard at 3.56 per cent from 2018 to 2020.
From 2021, a floating indexation rate will be applied to the funding standard to ensure that funding reflects real changes in costs and stays in line with the economy.
Funding will also take in to account enrolment growth, which is consistent with arrangements for Government schools.
States and Territories can then make their own funding decisions about whether they want their schools to reach the Schooling Resource Standard.
States will, however, be required to at least maintain their real per student funding levels as a condition of Commonwealth funding.
The Catholic School Sector has argued against the new funding scheme, with National Catholic Education Commission (NCEC) acting executive director Danielle Cronin releasing a statement condemning the plan.
Ms Cronin said there remained a high degree of uncertainty about the full impact on funding for Catholic systems over the next decade.
“The NCEC is calling on the Minister to expedite the release of the Department of Education and Training’s modelling and to listen carefully to the additional concerns of Catholic education,” she said.
In an interview with Sky News, Mr Birmingham said the Catholic School Sector was in a good position that would see, over that four year period, an extra $1.2 billion go into Catholic Schools around the country.
“The idea that there’s a threat to small parish schools as I’ve seen reported in some instances is quite ridiculous,” he said.
“In fact again, quite the opposite, because it’s a needs-based model, and if there are small parish schools operating in regional communities, they’ll receive regional loadings. If they’ve got low socioeconomic students or Indigenous students, they’ll receive loadings for those low SES or Indigenous students, that’s the point of a needs-based model.”
The Federal Government has since released an online calculator, the School Funding Estimator, which reveals approximately how much money schools will receive under the new funding plan.
David Gonski, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham.