Monday, April 15, 2013

Big States Baulk at School Funding Model

Gonski infographic
Gonski infographic (Photo credit: Greens MPs)
The Liberal states are baulking at federal government calls to expand their education budgets in return for billions of dollars in schools funding, with one premier describing the plan as “nuts”.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard wants to pump an extra $14.5 billion over the next six years into the national education system, with the commonwealth contributing 65 per cent.

Ms Gillard said federal funding along with $5.1 billion from the states would help Australia reach its goal to be ranked in the world’s top five for reading, mathematics and science by 2025.

“It’s a lot of money, but I believe it is a wise investment in our children’s future and our nation’s future,” she told reporters in Canberra on Sunday.

But Western Australia, Queensland, Victoria and NSW aren’t so sure, setting the scene for a showdown with Ms Gillard on Friday when state leaders head to Canberra for the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting.

WA Premier Colin Barnett said while the plan gives his state an extra $300 million, NSW gets a massive $5 billion and base funding per student would be less than what his government already offers. “I would have to be nuts to sign up to something like that,” he told Sky News television.

Labor’s needs-based National Plan for School Improvement builds on the recommendations of the Gonski schools funding review released last year and comes ahead of the expiry of the current funding agreement early next year.

Under the proposed school resource standard, the amount for 2014 would be $9271 per primary school student and $12,193 for every secondary pupil. 

Public schools would be the big winners with $12.1 billion in extra funds, while the Catholic system would receive $1.4 billion and private schools $1 billion.

The federal government also proposes to boost commonwealth schools funding by 4.7 per cent a year, but only if the states and territories agree to increase their education budgets by a corresponding three per cent.

Queensland Premier Campbell Newman said he would go to COAG with an open mind, but chided Ms Gillard for not speaking to him first about her funding plan. “I know the state of Queensland doesn’t have the money they’re talking about,” he said.

Victorian Education Minister Martin Dixon said Labor was holding the states to ransom. “Basically they’re saying, `here’s a whole bunch of money, but you’ve got to do it our way’,” he told reporters in Melbourne.

NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli said he needed more time to “examine the details”. “We continue to work constructively with the commonwealth to turn this review into an opportunity for all of our students,” he said in a statement

The NT is also uncertain, but South Australia, Tasmania and the ACT broadly support the plan. Ms Gillard warned if funding wasn’t addressed schools would be $5.4 worse off because of a widening gap between spending commitments by the states and the commonwealth.

But if the states agree, there would be extra money per student and loadings for schools with disadvantaged pupils, including indigenous children or those with disabilities.

The Australian Education Union supports the reforms while the Independent Schools Council of Australia (ISCA) says it will await the outcome of COAG.

Opposition education spokesman Christopher Pyne said the plan was a “con”. “This package delivers only about $600 million a year in new education money or one-tenth of what was expected,” he said in a statement.

Labor will use savings from $2.8 billion in cuts to tertiary education and $900 million from changes to superannuation tax concessions to help pay for its share of the funding boost.

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie said the Gonski recommendations provided the government a once in a lifetime opportunity to reform education funding, but instead they’d gone with a political fix.

The fact Labor cut into university funding to pay for its schools plan was “genuinely appalling”, he added. “The bottom line is that the federal government has turned out to be a terrible disappointment on education,” Mr Wilkie said in a statement.
Enhanced by Zemanta

No comments:

Post a Comment