7 October 2015  |  No. 18-15 | Download as PDF

Qld funding moves toward Gonski model

The Queensland Government’s allocation of federal funding to state schools has moved closer to the model of a base level of funding, plus loadings aimed at overcoming students’ educational disadvantage – that is, the model advocated by the Gonski review of schools funding.

The model also gives schools more certainty, with funds “smoothed” over 2016 and 2017, rather than the previous model which allocated funds over only 12 months.

The Queensland Teachers’ Union (QTU) has strongly advocated for these changes at both the ministerial and departmental level, and will continue to work with the Department of Education and Training (DET) to use available funding in a way that not only targets student needs, but also promotes the stability of staffing and program offerings at the school level, and maximises permanent employment. The QTU congratulates the Minister and the Queensland Government on the changes.

Funds will continue to be allocated directly to schools as in previous years, and the Minister has committed that no school will receive less in dollar terms than in 2015.

Certainty of funding means that schools can commit to programs and allocate all their Gonski funding to them, rather than hedging against funding changes. As Gonski review panel member Ken Boston says: “the child in Year 5 who can benefit from the funding will only be in Year 5 once.”

This funding program will now be known as “Investing for Success” (or I4S), replacing the previous “Great Results Guarantee” – that change should also affect the previous requirements for schools to develop and publish overly prescriptive “GRG plans” focused on often unachievable short-term goals. The QTU supports the continued publication of more sensible plans on school websites that detail the investments being made by schools, as that gives the community valuable information on the benefits of targeted and enhanced school funding, and helps “tell the story” of the ongoing Gonski campaign.

Funding figures and loadings

Federal funds available for state schools over the next two years total almost $480m (building on the $131m in 2014 and $183m in 2015). Instead of the previous ad hoc 12-month allocation, the funds will be smoothed across both years, with approximately $240m for both 2016 and 2017, with provision for enrolment changes.

The educational disadvantage factors are:

  • socio-economic status, calculated on the Index of Relative Socio-economic Disadvantage (IRSED) used by the Australian Bureau of Statistics for the lowest two quintiles
  • students with disability (SWD), for all students in special schools, and those with a verified EAP profile in quartiles 3 or 4 in mainstream schools
  • Indigeneity, for students in years prep to 12
  • English as an additional language or dialect (EAL/D), for non-refugee students with an achievement in English below C; for all schools including those with an EAL/D unit
  • refugee status, for students in their third year in Australia
  • school location.

The Minister has also decided to maintain administrative support for medium to larger-sized primary schools, pending the review of school administration support.

The table below shows the base allocation per student, plus the loadings for educational disadvantage factors. A single student may attract multiple loading allocations.

It is important to note that while figures are listed “per student,” the funding will be allocated to schools based on their students’ characteristics – there is no suggestion of a voucher model being introduced.

Funding factor 2016 ($ per student)
Base 220
SES 400 quintile 1 IRSED
225 quintile 2 IRSED

300 mainstream schools (quartiles 3 or 4)
200 special schools

Indigeneity 300
EAL/D 2,300
Refugee status 6,250
School location 70 very remote
35 remote
15 outer provincial

For small schools, the current minimum allocation of $5,000 each will be maintained, with this minimum funding extended to environmental education centres and outdoor education centres. There will be $26,627 for administrative support for each medium to large primary school (600-800 enrolments).

Across the Queensland state school system, approximate funding allocations will be as shown below.

Base $116m
SES $70m 
SWD $4m
Indigeneity $15m
EAL/D $12m
Refugee status $5m
Location $2m
Administrative support $3m
Top-up (for minimum allocation and so no school is worse off) $6m

Next steps

The critical issue in federal school funding remains – despite claiming to be on a “unity ticket” with the ALP on schools funding before its election in 2013, the federal government has not only failed to commit to the last two years of Gonski funding (in which the bulk of funding would have been delivered), it plans to cut education funding in real terms from 2017, when increases will be tied only to enrolment increases and inflation.

That is why the QTU, with the Australian Education Union and its branches throughout the country, remains committed to the “I give a Gonski” campaign.

A major upcoming focus of that campaign will be the week of 26-30 October, which will be both State Education Week in Queensland and Gonski Action Week, and will include World Teachers’ Day on Friday 30 October. The QTU will provide more information about activities for the week early in term 4. For more information about the Gonski review and its recommendations, visit the “I give a Gonski” website.

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