Interview on Channel 9 Today Perth with Tracy Vo
Topics: Deliver real, Gonski needs-based funding for schools

Tracy Vo: And first on the agenda for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull today is a trip to Swan View Senior High School in Perth Hills. He’ll announce a funding boost of nearly $47 million for WA’s Indigenous students.

And Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham joins me this morning. Good morning to you, Minister.

Simon Birmingham: Good morning, Tracy.

Tracy Vo: Talk us through how this money will be spent.

Simon Birmingham: Well the whole point of implementing a Gonski-style needs based funding formula; is to make sure that it flows to the students of highest need. And so what we’re seeing here is as a result of our new school funding model: an extra $47 million flowing to support Indigenous students – and importantly across every school in WA – in getting their fair, needs based share of federal funding in the future. They’ll be able to invest in kids, in support services to make a difference: extra speech pathologists, additional one-on-one time between teachers and students, real support to help students achieve and be their best.

Tracy Vo: We’re talking about an extra $1100 per student, is that correct?

Simon Birmingham: Look that’s around right. Now it’s much, much more than that in terms of overall funding into WA. We’re seeing year on year growth of around 10 per cent per student, per annum, as we bring the west up to its fair share of school funding. Because the old Labor Government deal had been terribly unfair, given WA a raw deal. We’re now going to make sure that Western Australian school students get the same type of federal funding as students right across the rest of the country; so WA schools can do what they need to help our children succeed.

Tracy Vo: You did mention specific challenges that some of these Indigenous students face. What kind of challenges do they face compared to those from non-Indigenous backgrounds?

Simon Birmingham: Look we know there are a range of problems, particularly facing young Indigenous children when they start school. That often their literacy skills, their basic reading skills are behind the eight ball in the early stages. That there are often some other developmental challenges. And so that requires additional support and activity in the schools to help those children. As I said, whether that is things like speech pathology, whether it’s making sure there’s additional one-on-one class time between teachers and students; ensuring that really – especially in those early years – we get the foundation blocks right, and so the children can then succeed through the rest of their education.

Tracy Vo: Minister, do you think this will lift literacy rates and have long term benefits?

Simon Birmingham: We’re really committed to working with the states and territories to make sure that a record growing sum of investment in schools is used as effectively as possible to lift outcomes. We’ve got to get maximum bang for our buck, in terms of investment in schools. That’s why we’re doing a whole other piece of work to lift teacher quality, to focus on parental engagement, to build a stronger curriculum: all the types of things that can help ensure we get the best outcomes in our schools.

Tracy Vo: Alright Minister, thank you very much for your time this morning.

Simon Birmingham: Thank you, Tracy.