The Gonski 2.0 package passed today by the Senate is a welcome improvement to the status quo but imposes an unreasonable funding burden on most states and territories, Centre for Independent Studies education policy analyst Blaise Joseph said.
“Gonski 2.0 is better than Gonski 1.0, but to say Gonski 2.0 is imperfect is a gross understatement.” Mr Joseph said.
Mr Joseph criticised the tougher requirements in Gonski 2.0 for states and territories to increase school funding as a condition of receiving increased commonwealth funding.
“The amended legislation means New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, and the Northern Territory will all have to significantly increase their real per-student funding between 2019 and 2023 in order to receive the extra federal money,” he said.
“This unjustifiably takes away the ability of state and territory governments to adjust their own school budgets in accordance with local needs and financial circumstances. It also makes the total cost of Gonski 2.0 to taxpayers much higher than is being reported.
While Mr Joseph welcomed the government’s move to end the inconsistencies and special deals in school funding with independent and Catholic schools, he said Gonski 2.0 was a missed opportunity to address the underlying flaws with the school funding model.
“Under the current school funding formula, the majority of Australian school students are considered ‘disadvantaged’ and receive extra funding.
“This is obviously absurd, not financially viable in the long-term, means extra funding won’t flow to the schools that need it most — and wasn’t what the original Gonski report proposed. And yet Gonski 2.0 locks in this unreasonably high school funding benchmark.”
Mr Joseph emphasised a comprehensive review of the school funding model is imperative.
“The Gonski 2.0 review will look only at what schools should spend their funding on, after it has already been determined how much funding they should get.”
“The first job of the new independent school resourcing body to be created as part of the revised Gonski 2.0 package should be to conduct a review of the whole school funding model.”
“We applaud the planned review of the flawed school SES model, but the review should be much broader, with a focus on tightening the criteria for disadvantaged students.”
Blaise Joseph is an Education Policy Analyst at The Centre for Independent Studies and author of The Fantasy of Gonski Funding: The ongoing battle over school spending.
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