QTU President
Kevin Bates

15 May 2013, President’s comment

One big step for Gonski, and a huge leap for schools

The Gonski schools funding reforms are closer to becoming reality. As eagerly anticipated, and now confirmed, the Federal Government has committed $9.8b over six financial years to its National Plan for School Improvement, with modelling for funding to continue to increase through to 2022-23.

The Gonski funding is projected over the first six years in a “backended” model; that is, with comparatively modest initial increases building to the full expenditure by 2018-19. It is a model that should give confidence to state governments, including Queensland’s, to sign up now to the Gonski plan, as it takes into account the impacts on government budgets at all levels of dramatic real world economic influences such as natural disasters and the global financial crisis.

It is also a model that needs bipartisan support to deliver long-term benefits for all Australian children, particularly those struggling to overcome educational disadvantage. Beyond the Gonski funding based on the school resource standard plus loading for disadvantage, the Federal Budget commits to increasing overall education spending by 4.7% per annum, in partnership with a 3% annual state indexation.

The NPSI contains funding to directly assist teachers and principals, beyond providing funding certainty and so freeing them from the often onerous task of applying for short-term grant assistance. Funding has been dedicated to assisting in the implementation and assessment of the Australian curriculum, and for providing more support for beginning teachers.

Some aspects of the NPSI still need clarity; for example, the planned changes to My School, including publishing school level data on needs-based funding, must not create onerous workloads for teachers or school administrators, and TAFE/VET expenditure still needs to be put into practice through agreements between the federal and state governments.

But the fact remains that this budget has proven to be one of the boldest in decades in putting the concept of fairness back into the economic discourse, both through its support for people with disabilities and for the children who rely on education for their futures.

A fuller analysis, including spending on vocational education and training, students with disabilities, Indigenous education and teacher professional standards will be published on this website over the next few days.

Kevin Bates