Gon­ski 2.0: De­liv­er­ing needs-based fund­ing

The Australian Education Reporter - - NEWS: NATIONAL - EMMA DAVIES

“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

2027.

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.

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