2017 State Budget will be key to “Advancing Education”

A state government Budget is much more than just a set of numbers, in fact it is a statement of values. The QTU asserts that increased investment in education has the potential to show that our state respects not just the students, teachers and principals currently in classrooms, but also the goal of a fairer society.

With the possible exception of the Gonski originated “Great Results Guarantee” funding provided directly to schools, the three years of the Newman LNP government saw tens of millions in hidden losses foisted on schools and much misguided spending on programs with little educational merit. The cause of this debacle can be found in that government’s ideological motivations and its failure to consult with teachers and principals and the union that represents 44,000 of them.

The current Palaszczuk Labor government stands in sharp contrast. Its Advancing Education policy platform is about being: ready to listen to educators and their union; willing to invest in educational programs that benefit the students that need it most; and trusting schools to use the additional cash to meet their unique needs. This government’s respect for teachers and principals is unquestionable.

Each year, the QTU provides the state government with a submission on priority areas for the upcoming Budget. The 2017 Budget Submission seeks to build on the great work done over the past two years in undoing the damage wrought by the LNP while building a greater resource base for schools. A full copy of our submission is available from the QTU website, but here are some of the major priorities it addresses.

  • School funding: prioritising securing commitments from the federal government to fully fund years five and six of the Gonski school funding model and committing to providing the state’s share of the funding.
  • Mentoring for Beginning Teachers: ongoing implementation of the program beyond 2017.
  • Curriculum: guaranteeing resources enabling schools to manage curriculum change in both P-10 and senior secondary.
  • Early childhood development centres (ECDPs) and students with disability: immediately committing to the ongoing operation of ECDPs and enhanced staffing and funding for schools to cater for students with disability.
  • Extra guidance officers: 45 additional permanent guidance officers in primary and special schools.
  • School infrastructure: a comprehensive plan for new buildings in existing schools and new schools to cater for massive growth in student enrolments up to 2030; sustaining school maintenance and capital works programs; implementing a state-wide air conditioning program.
  • Funding enterprise bargaining outcomes: support for small school principals, review and overhaul of classification structure for school leaders, ongoing implementation of highly accomplished and lead teachers, review and enhancement of remote area incentives.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education: prioritising permanent employment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teachers, supporting and enhancing RATEP.
  • Teacher accommodation: committing to the construction or purchase of higher standard accommodation in rural and remote schools.
  • ICTs: centrally funded ICT technicians in all state schools, an ICT fund to neutralise equity issues in terms of access to ICTs caused by socio-economic access.
  • TAFE funding: quarantine at least 70 per cent of the state’s training budget for TAFE Queensland, amend arrangements to award funding based on actual training delivered.

The current approach of the Palaszczuk government is getting results in state schools right across Queensland. We can do more with ongoing commitments and the correct priorities. We will have to wait until Budget day in June to learn the details, but hopes are high for an education Budget.

Kevin Bates

Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 122 No 2, 10 March 2017, p8