Politicians must hear funding message
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 126 No 8, 12 November 2021, page no.16
With proper and fair funding from the federal government, every state school in Queensland could employ additional teachers and reduce average class sizes.
Ten years after the release of the Gonski Review of schools funding in Australia, Queensland state schools are still not receiving 100 per cent of the schooling resource standard (SRS), a measure of the minimum resourcing that a school requires according to the review. It is predominantly the 20 per cent cap on federal funding that is causing our resources to fall short year after year.
New figures released by the Australian Education Union show the direct impact on each state school student of the inequitable federal government school funding arrangements. For example, in the federal electorate of Leichardt (including Cairns and the Cape York Peninsula), state schools are missing out on $150.5 million over three years, and in Longman (around Caboolture and Bribie Island) state schools are missing out on $152.7 million. In both of these areas, at either end of the state, each student is missing out on roughly $2,162 a year (on average). The ongoing refusal of the federal government to address these inequities is putting the future of our children at risk.
QTU members know that increased school funds, in the form of “Investing for Success” or “I4S” appropriations, have made positive impacts on our ability to support our student’s learning, but many of our most complex children are still struggling. This will continue while we continue to fall short of the SRS in Queensland state schools. Investment in public education would reduce that risk for our students and deliver a strong foundation for our nation’s long-term recovery from COVID-19.
The federal government must understand the critical importance of funding every state school properly to a minimum of 100 per cent of the SRS, ensuring that every child has a high-quality education, regardless of their background.
With the federal election looming, QTU members around the state have been visiting their local federal politicians to discuss this and the other issues they face in their schools and TAFEs. Here are some of the reports from those delegations.
Vicki Caldow (Wellers Hill State School), Brendan Crotty (Deputy General Secretary) and I held a Zoom meeting with the Federal Member for Griffith, Terri Butler, to discuss the need for urgent funding reform at the federal level to ensure all state schools are funded to 100 per cent of the SRS.
We spoke about the view that many politicians incorrectly hold that education funding is a matter that only relates directly to schools. Education funding provides the foundation of everything, the economy, lifelong health outcomes, reducing anti-social/criminal behaviours and, importantly, respectful relationships free of domestic violence and coercive control. The delegation spoke at length about the need for significant capital investment to transform classrooms in schools into the learning spaces required to develop and foster the skills we need to lead the country and the transitional economy leading up to and beyond 2050.
Terri committed to raising and advocating for this issue with other members of the Labor caucus.
Andrew Beattie, principal, Whites Hill State College
A small delegation, including Mark Johnstone (principal, Pallara State School), David Newman (deputy principal, Glenala State High School), Brendan Crotty (Deputy General Secretary) and I, met with long-standing Federal Member for Oxley, Milton Dick, to discuss a range of issues pertinent to education.
Collectively, we brought a range of issues to the table, including the Every School, Every Child campaign, discussing current funding models and how the schools of the Oxley electorate would benefit from an increased commitment to SRS funding into the future.
Each of us raised concerns regarding school maintenance and resourcing, and mental health intervention, as well as NDIS funding solutions for our students, who come from a wide range of socio-economic, cultural, ethnic and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
Our delegation sought support and commitment for state education and the QTU from Milton, to which he was very receptive.
Natalie Blacklock, Springfield Central SHS
QTU President Cresta Richardson joined Vicki Caldow (principal, Wellers Hill SS), Bronwyn Darben (Runcorn SHS), Ashwina Gotame (Bundamba SSC) and myself in meeting with the federal Member for Moreton, Graham Perrett, to emphasise the issues important to Queensland state school and TAFE teachers in the lead up to the next federal election.
Vicki and Ashwina spoke on the increasing disparity between state and private school funding and the gap this leaves in meeting the schooling resource standard (SRS), explaining clearly the impact it will have on their schools. As an English teacher, Bronwyn explained how the persistence of the flawed NAPLAN test and its high stakes nature has affected the depth and breadth of teaching available to her students. I spoke on the importance of proper TAFE funding and the opportunities which exist to use the excellent TAFE system to help the economy recover from the pandemic.
Graham acknowledged the issues around the current federal government’s funding changes and the limitations of NAPLAN.
Dr Peter Darben, Cavendish Road SHS