Back in 2010, the Gillard government commissioned a report (led by businessman David Gonksi) regarding school funding based on the simple premise that “every child should have access to the best possible education, regardless of where they live, the income of their family or the school they attend.”
Essentially, the report proposed needs-based funding, meaning that additional assistance is distributed to students who need more help due to personal circumstances such as disability, financial struggles or living arrangements.
The original report was eventually released in February 2012. The Gonksi reforms included 41 recommendations that ranged from increased funding and building a different funding framework to establishing a National Schools Resourcing Body and a Schools Planning Authority.
Then-Prime Minister Julia Gillard approved several of the recommendation in 2013, vowing to boost school funding by $14.5 billion over six years if all states and territories increased their own spending by three per cent. Only Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory signed off on the idea, meaning that instead of a national approach there were 27 different deals in place.
After Tony Abbott became Prime Minister in 2013, the government committed to the first four years of Gonski, increasing funding for the states that refused to sign up (Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Australia). Instead of setting up management plans in the state’s school systems, the government opted for inspectors based in Canberra.
However, there has been criticism that nearly two thirds of the initial funding were earmarked for schools during the final two years of the initiative, which wasn’t financed by the Abbott government.
Current Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull recently announced Gonksi 2.0, a 10-year endeavour that will see Commonwealth funding rise to $30.6 billion. David Gonski will once again conduct a review of education in Australia, while Labor has claimed that schools are being short-changed $22 billion as a result of the original plan being cut short.
For the time being, it appears the second wave of Gonski will be successful, with 9,000 schools set to benefit, while 24 others will experience funding cuts.