13 May 2015, no. 07-15
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Gonski campaign restarts as federal budget abandons fair school funding

Following the release of the federal budget last night, it is time for the campaign to achieve the full Gonski funding model for schools to restart in earnest.

The federal budget fails students with disability and entrenches disadvantage in Australian schools. The Queensland Government estimates that Queensland will be worse off by $466m in federal school funding over the next three years.

Despite a pre-election promise, the budget does not contain an increase in funding for disability. As a consequence, more than 100,000 students with disability across Australia will be left without additional funding support in schools.

As well as failing students with disability, the federal government has abandoned Gonski. Two-thirds of the extra funding was due to be delivered in the last two years of the Gonski agreements. By failing to honour these agreements beyond 2016/17 and cutting indexation of schools funding beyond that, the Abbott government has hit the most disadvantaged students the hardest.

It’s time to start Giving a Gonski

Thursday 28 May is National Public Education Day, the day on which we intend to reinvigorate our campaign for a needs-based, sector-blind funding model. In order to do this, the QTU asks members to take action at the local level in the following ways.

  1. Phone your local federal and state MPs to express your support for state schools, the need for additional resources and the impact of not fully implementing the Gonski reforms. When speaking with your local members make sure that you discuss what your school is doing with the Gonski (GRG) funding and how the removal of this will affect students. It is important that politicians are reminded that public schools funding and Gonski remain important issues for the community, despite the abandonment of them by the federal government.
  2. Host a morning tea, or other event at your school/workplace, to celebrate public education. Share your photos on social media, and send them through to the QTU so that we can post them to our Facebook page. Let’s flood Facebook, the twittersphere and Instagram with seas of green. Make sure your messages and photos are seen by your colleagues around the nation by using the hash tags #gonski and #QTU.
  3. Become a Gonski campaign supporter on the I give a Gonski website and be part of the on-going campaign.

The challenge for Queensland is to get both the state and federal governments to commit to the delivery of Gonski in Queensland schools. In the lead up to the federal election, we cannot let the community forget that the federal government has walked away from its pre-election commitments, and that we will hold it accountable. It is time for our schools and our children to get the full Gonski.

Members will recall that the review of school funding was a promise of the incoming Rudd government in 2007. After widespread consultation, which included thousands of submissions from state schools across the country, the committee recommended a model based on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) notions of equity in education; not equal outcomes but equal opportunity irrespective of background.

At the core of the model was an increased school resource standard of per capita funding for each student. This was to be supplemented by additional funding (loadings) for six factors of student educational disadvantage: socio-economic status, Indigeneity, non-English speaking background, disability, remoteness and school size.

The community support for the introduction of a needs-based funding model was such that the Abbott federal opposition said it was on a "unity ticket" with the then federal government, to neutralise the issue.

After the election, the Abbott government announced that the "unity ticket" was nothing of the sort and that it did not plan to honour the bilateral agreements that had already been made. This is evidenced in last night’s budget.

In Queensland, the Gonski money that teachers, parents and the broader community had won through a five year campaign became the Great Results Guarantee funding that has been distributed to schools in 2014 and 2015.

To its credit, the LNP government distributed all the Gonski money to schools; $131m in 2014 and $183m in 2015. But a combination of the former state government's ideological problems with the needs-based funding model proposed by Gonski and the late confirmation of funding by the federal government meant that distribution had to be cobbled together over the 2013-14 summer vacation, and was then modified for 2015 without any attempt to move towards a transparent needs-based model.

This is another part of the challenge for Queensland schools: to move from the uncertain additional year-to-year funding we now have to a needs-based model that provides certainty into the future and addresses educational disadvantage on an on-going basis.

The QTU has already raised this with the new state government. It isn't "pie in the sky" - the NSW government is in the final stages of implementing such a model - but the process needs to start now.

Paid parental leave fail

Last night’s release of the federal budget also confirmed media reports from earlier this week that the federal government would, from July 2016, deny federal paid parental leave (PPL) to women who have access to employer PPL. The government cynically referred to these women as “double dippers”, revealing its true attitude towards supporting working women.

 Authorised by Graham Moloney, General Secretary, Queensland Teachers' Union