Lies, damned lies and statistics. They have unfortunately been a common feature of the schools funding conversation being had across the country.
Unfortunately that conversation has reached a new low now that we have Labor Party activists masquerading as education experts all the while ruthlessly preying on the fears of vulnerable parents to try and score political points.
Rather than contributing thoughtful and constructive ideas to the debate about our schools, Brad Chilcott’s partisan rant was filled with mistruths by an author that is a leading figure of Labor’s left faction – an association he failed to disclose in his contribution.
Brad Chilcott’s missive on schools funding ignores the fact that his own Party, the Labor Party, cooked up special deals on the eve of the 2013 election that under current arrangements mean disadvantaged South Australian children at a government school attract nearly 20 per cent or about $600 less federal funding per year than those exact same kids would if they were at an identical school in NSW.
I make no apology for pointing out that the deals are not what David Gonski and his panel of education experts recommended for schools funding in Australia. But don’t trust me, trust one of the experts that wrote the Gonski recommendations, Dr Ken Boston: “In the run-up to the 2013 election, prime minister Kevin Rudd and education minister Bill Shorten hawked this corruption of the Gonski report around the country, doing deals with premiers, bishops and the various education lobbies.”
who came out recently to go so far as to call those 27 special deals a “corruption” of what they had recommended. The funding situation that Bill Shorten and the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd Governments stitched up is not anything close to what people often call “Gonski funding”.
It’s meant there are differences of more than $1,500 between what federal funding a disadvantaged student would attract in one state compared to what that same student would attract in another, and that gap blows out to more than $2,100 by 2019.
The Turnbull Government wants to fix that.
We are determined to replace the special deals with a new, simpler distribution model where special deals don’t distort a fair distribution of federal funds.
We are also determined to ensure that students who need additional assistance, just like Mr Chilcott’s son, continue to receive the additional funding that gives them the support they need to succeed at school.
Simply, there are no cuts to school funding. The Turnbull Government is growing investment in schools from around $16 billion in 2016 to $20.1 billion by 2020. That is funding above inflation and above enrolment growth projections. The Turnbull Government will be working to ensure that funding is distributed fairly and according to need so that schools currently delivering valuable programs can continue to do so.
Yes, Labor promised to spend even more but Malcolm Turnbull and I were open about our record funding that is growing yet more affordable, well before the July election.
Unlike Labor, we also emphasised the need to focus on evidence based measures that will get results for our students because NAPLAN results and our international rankings show that, despite significant funding growth in Australia, we are not getting sufficient improvements in student outcomes.
As detailed in our 2016 Budget document Quality Schools Quality Outcomes, we want students leaving school to have met minimum literacy and numeracy requirements, we want to reward teachers for their competency and achievement not just their length of service, we want to be able to identify and help Year 1 students who need additional support and we want to give families more transparency so they can monitor their children’s progress and better support them.
It is a great pity that not everyone wants to engage in the sensible conversation Malcolm Turnbull and I are having with the country about giving our children the tools and support they need to succeed at school and in life.
I believe that we all want to deliver funding that is distributed according to need and we all want to help boost student outcomes so I call on Labor to drop the schools-scare campaign and work with the Turnbull Government to iron out the problems with the current distribution of funding and to work with us to implement reforms in our schools that are proven to lift student performance.