As Australian families, educators and policymakers reflect on the recent national and international reports on our students’ literacy, numeracy and science skills and wonder why the conversation about schools cannot make progress, they need look no further than the pure politicking and opportunism on display today by the Labor Party.
The re-branding of Labor’s election calculator of lies exposes the ‘Learn to Grow’ group as nothing more than an off-shoot of the Labor Party, the only use of which is to calculate the size of Labor’s lies on schools funding.
The credibility of this re-hashed Labor calculator is in tatters due to the simple fact that under the Turnbull Government there are no cuts to schools funding – federal investment will grow from an already-record $16 billion in 2016 to $20.1 billion in 2020.
These blatant lies and scare tactics from Labor come at a high price for the future of our students.
It is also clear that ‘Learn to Grow’ is nothing but a front organisation for various union groups in South Australia. What’s more, non-union founding partners of ‘Learn to Grow’ including Anglicare SA, SACOSS, Uniting Communities and Community Centres SA also appear to have refused to associate themselves with this latest initiative.
By standing with ‘Learn to Grow’, Tanya Plibersek has exposed herself as nothing but a political opportunist determined to de-rail the national conversation the Turnbull Government is leading on how we turnaround our stagnating and declining education results.
If Ms Plibersek and Minister Close were serious about helping South Australian students they would be working with the Turnbull Government to correct the inequities in schools funding and the dodgy deal for SA that Bill Shorten and Labor stitched up when in Government that one of the architects of the ‘Gonski report’, Dr Ken Boston, has labelled a “corruption” of needs-based funding.
Under the deal the two Labor Governments signed, South Australian students get the second smallest amount of federal government support of any state or territory. A South Australian student from a disadvantaged background is ripped off under Labor’s funding deals by as much as $1,300 in federal funding than if that same student went to the same school in another state.
It’s that sort of unfairness in the funding deals Labor signed that I am determined to correct because if we don’t, by 2019 disadvantaged students in one state will get around $1,900 less in federal funding than they would in another state. Labor’s schools funding deals don’t fix the distribution of money, they make it worse.
The Turnbull Government is determined to deliver a simpler funding model where Labor’s special deals don’t distort a fair distribution of federal money and we will ensure our record investment in schools is distributed according to need and tied to the implementation of our evidence-backed quality reforms that have been proven to lift student achievement.
As the OECD highlighted this week, ‘for the majority of OECD countries there is essentially no relationship between spending per student and outcomes in PISA…What matters is how resources are allocated and the qualitative differences in education policies, cultural norms and professional practices’.
We must be focused on delivering reforms that evidence from teachers and researchers have shown us will boost student outcomes.
It’s time for Australian leaders, educators and families to focus on what works in our schools, which is why I am taking a comprehensive package of reforms to the Education Council meeting on Friday.
For further information on the Turnbull Government’s Quality Schools, Quality Outcomes reforms, visit https://www.education.gov.au/quality-schools-quality-outcomes