QTU Budget Submission 2015

Each year, prior to the release of the state budget, the Queensland Teachers’ Union makes a submission to the Queensland Government petitioning for improved funding for education.

This year the Union has taken a very different approach from that used in the past. The submission is shorter and more visually appealing than previous versions, in the hope that it will be a more persuasive document and one that may assist members when campaigning. It is also designed to be both consistent with and complementary to the Education Brief – the document you may have read about in the last Journal, which was developed by the QTU for the incoming government, addressing the current major education issues in Queensland.

Early in our submission, we state: “The QTU asserts that money spent on education yields a high return on investment that continues for generations.” We draw on examples from national partnership schools to demonstrate that increased education spending does indeed lead to improved student outcomes, and urge the government to prioritise education when developing the state’s budget.

We compare education spending in Australia to that of other countries; sadly Australia lags behind other developed nations, such as the United States and the United Kingdom, and we’re below the OECD average. Similarly, we looked at our interstate neighbours and found that Queensland spending on a per capita basis is among the worst in the nation. The Report on Government Services data reveals that, while the Northern Territory spends $20,896 per full-time equivalent (FTE) student and Western Australia spends $17,089, Queensland spends only $13,727.

Our budget submission also seeks a review of how federal money, granted under the Students First initiative, is distributed. We suggest that the allocation of all money directly to schools, as occurs under the Great Results Guarantee program, should continue. However, we believe a transparent, needs-based allocative model should be used to determine how the money is shared. Disadvantage factors, such as low socio-economic status, Indigeneity, English language proficiency, students with disabilities and remoteness, should all be factored in. We also assert that schools should be given more certainty around these funds, to enable longer-term programs to become established.

We go on to criticise actions of the previous government, which oversaw changes to the staffing formula, removed the rounding benefit and the year 2 net allocation and removed the resource teacher allocation from secondary schools. These changes, combined with a failure to provide enough teachers to cover enrolment growth, equalled a total shortfall of 519 FTE teachers. We criticise the funding model currently used to allocate funds to students with disabilities and the fact that class sizes have increased in 76 per cent of Queensland state schools.

We petition for increased and sustained spending on buildings and maintenance, teacher housing, RAIS, ICT and TAFE. We urge the government to see the budget not just as a set of numbers, but as a statement of values, and hope that it will prioritise a quality education system and see it as the stepping stone to a fair and equitable society.

Kim Roy
Research Officer

Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 120 No 3, 24 April 2015, p6