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Gonski 2.0: unfair funding cuts to Catholic schools

Posted on 8 May 2017
Gonski 2.0: unfair funding cuts to Catholic schools
The National Catholic Education Commission (NCEC) is "deeply concerned" by the lack of consultation by the Federal Government over its new funding model.

"It is unprecedented for a Federal Government to announce a 10 year school funding plan without consulting the second largest provider of school education in the country," she said. "Today's announcement has only created immediate uncertainty for principals, teachers and parents, who need to make decisions now about schooling next year."

In a media statement responding to the Prime Minister's announcement on Tuesday, acting executive director Danielle Cronin said it appears that a significant number of the 24 schools targeted for a cut in funding are independent Catholic schools.

"Worse, the Federal Government is seeking to undermine Catholic system funding by abandoning a mechanism that the Catholic sector uses to ensure resources are distributed fairly and according to need among schools that belong to a single Catholic schools authority," she said.

"The System Weighted Average, which the Government wants to phase out over 10 years, is integral to the efficient and equitable functioning of the Catholic education system," she said. "It provides the mechanism through which the Catholic sector supports centrally its 1731 schools and meets locally identified need."

The Federal Government's Quality Schools reforms will be overseen by David Gonski AC and increased funding will be tied to school reforms proven to boost student results.

According to the Government's media release, Mr Gonski will lead a review to "Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools" which it says will be delivered by December 2017 and will make "recommendations on the most effective teaching and learning strategies to reverse declining results, and seek to raise the performance of schools and students". Dr Ken Boston AO, who was a member of the original review panel, will join Mr Gonski in conducting the review.

Gonksi 2.0, as it has been aptly named, will see annual funding increased by $18.6 billion over 10 years and reach $30.6 billion by 2027. This is $22.3 billion less than Labor's proposed policy. The Government will also remove 27 agreements put in place to push states into accepting the Gonski agreement.

"The government is acting to right Labor's wrongs, including where difficult decisions are required," Mr Turnbull said.

New research by the Centre for Independent Studies found that Labor's National Plan for School Improvement was a far cry from the recommendations of the 2012 Gonski Report.

Education policy analyst and the study's author Blaise Joseph said the concept of Gonski funding was a "fantasy" with significant variations between the report and the Rudd and Gillard models which set funding targets "unrealistically and ­unjustifiably high". He said this, and not the overfunding of some independent schools, was to blame for the failed school improvement plan.

"The reason for school systems not currently receiving their SRS funding levels is due to the unreasonably high benchmark based on the expanded loadings, rather than some independent schools being 'overfunded'," he said.

In an opinion piece in The Australian Financial Review, Mr Joseph argues the underlying premise of the Gonski Report is "fundamentally flawed".

"(The report) relied on NAPLAN and school funding data that was out of date, even in 2012, and simply asserted without evidence that much higher funding for disadvantaged students would produce better educational outcomes," he writes.

"While Australian education has significant problems, the quantum of money spent is not among them. Between 2011 and 2015, real government school funding per student rose by 7 per cent, while key test results have slumped and Australia went backwards in the two primary international literacy and numeracy tests, PISA and TIMMS."

NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes is considering court action to safeguard NSW's share of funding.

"I am very concerned this may lead to a lessening of the funding that the federal government has already committed to provide to schools in NSW," Mr Stokes said.
Tags: Government NCEC Funding

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