Warnings say school funds shunted away from public
Public schooling advocates have accused the Federal Government of “sabotaging” the Gonski recommendations, saying they will still leave schools short.
The comments came from Trevor Cobbold, a former economist for the Productivity Commission and now national convenor of Save Our Schools.
Cobbold says in a report into the current administration’s handling of the school funding review that it has been skewed. Save our Schools says under the Abbott government’s system, private schools will now get a guaranteed federal funding increase but public schools will not.
The current Federal Government has changed the plan from that of its predecessor, now offering a funding increase of just $2.8 billion in the next four years, rather than $10.3 billion over six years.
The $7.5 billion federal funding shortfall will land on the shoulders of public schools, according to Cobbold.
The new plan will not require states and territories to distribute funds on the basis of disadvantage - a key point of the Gonski recommendations to reduce the gaps between schools around the country.
Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne says changes have been made to ensure state education boards will be “treated like adults”, and allowed to allocate funding as they choose.
He has also raised concerns that the promise to provide funding without strings attached will allow state and territory governments the final say on whether to increase funds for public schools, substitute existing funding or even cut spending. The previous plan had required states to put in for each dollar they receive from federal coffers, this stipulation seems to have disappeared.
No matter how it lands government schools will lose out, Mr Cobbold says.
“The government claims it is respecting states' rights in not setting conditions for federal funding, but it seems that affirming states' rights is just a convenient way to subvert Gonski,” the Save Our Schools report said.
“The outcome of this sabotage is clear: guaranteed funding increases for private schools, but not government schools.”