Proposed changes to Australia Education Act do not go far enough

Blaise Joseph

11 May 2017

cis logo 640x360The government’s proposed amendments to the Australia Education Act introduced to the Parliament today include welcome changes to school funding but do not go far enough, Centre for Independent Studies education policy analyst Blaise Joseph said.

“The proposed changes — important updates of school funding data, a better way of allocating funding for students with disabilities, sensible transition arrangements for schools with funding changes over the next 10 years, and indexation based on actual costs – ignore the crucial issues,” Mr Joseph said.

“The changes do not address the fundamental underlying problems with the school funding model: that the benchmark is set unreasonably high and is not based on any evidence.”

“The SRS base amount is to be calculated using the latest data, which is welcome as it is currently based on data from as far back as 2008. However, the legislation does not include any provision for further updates any time the next 10 years, so in 2027 schools will be funded based on data which is over 10 years old. This is a significant oversight which should be rectified,” he said.

“The government’s proposal to have three different levels of support for students with disabilities depending on need — instead of just one level for all students with disabilities — is a sensible move, as not all student with disabilities have the same needs.

“However the proposed changes to loadings do not address the fundamental problems with the SRS.

“It is inexcusable that the other loadings haven’t been substantially altered, as they represent a significant proportion of the cost of the SRS, are not based on any evidence whatsoever, and do not represent genuine needs-based funding.

“In particular, the loading for low SES still applies to the lowest 50% of all students.”

“This means the criteria for ‘disadvantage’ remains unreasonably broad such that the majority of Australian school students are considered ‘disadvantaged’ and receive extra funding. As a result, the cost of the SRS is unjustifiably high,” Mr Joseph said.

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 released last week.

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