School funding commitment with calls for billions more

The federal education minister says he wants to finish the work of review leader David Gonski as a new report links inadequate public school funding to poorer outcomes.

Jason Clare says the government is working towards closing the education gap that exists between regional and city schools as well as Indigenous students and their counterparts.

The Gonski funding model was designed to ensure every child had access to high quality education after a review was commissioned by former Labor prime minister Julia Gillard.

A new report by the Australia Institute has found a further $6.6 billion is needed for public schools each year in order to meet the minimum standards states have committed to and boost high school completion rates.

The report also found that students from disadvantaged socio-economic, regional and Indigenous backgrounds were likely to suffer the most.

Productivity improvements could boost the economy by $17.8 billion each year while the potential social gains are put at $24.7 billion.

Mr Clare said he was working with the states and territories to close the funding gap but that the money should be tied to outcomes in order to fix the education gap.

“If you’re a child from a poor family or from the bush or if you’re an Indigenous child, you’re less likely to go to preschool, you’re more likely to fall behind at primary school, you’re more likely to drop out in high school,” he told AAP.

The minister said funding needed to be tied to outcomes and help children who fall behind at school and need support to catch up.

Mr Clare said no public school outside the ACT was predicted to reach Gonksi level funding in the next decade, with funding set to top out at 95 per cent over the next decade.

“We need to work with the states and territories to fix that (gap),” he said.

The Australian Education Union is calling for all public schools to be fully funded by 2028.

President Correna Haythorpe said properly funded schools gave children a chance at a better life, reduce social inequality and address regional disadvantage.

“This research shows fully funding public schools will pay off for our kids and our country,” she said.

Greens senator Penny Allman-Payne is calling for the government to reduce spending on private schools in order to redirect the funds to the public system and ensure there are enough teachers and resources to deliver a proper education.

“There’s only one thing that will fix that: money,” she said.

“Right now, public schools don’t have enough, while private schools have too much, it’s as simple as that.”

The federal minister will meet with his state and territory counterparts in October.


Dominic Giannini
(Australian Associated Press)

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