Gonski school funding reform details released

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has released her plan for school funding reform as part of the federal government's Better Schools: A National Plan for School Improvement scheme. This announcement comes as a response to the suggestions made in the Gonski Review early last year. The new model aims to create a fairer funding model for all students that will increase Australia's educational performance to the top five internationally by 2025. Here we summarise the key details of the government's proposed new funding scheme.

The federal government will provide funding for all school sectors

School funding would be increased by $14.5 billion over six years, with $12 billion to be directed towards public schools, $1.5 billion to Catholic schools and $1 billion to independent schools. State governments will no longer be solely responsible for funding government schools, but they will need to agree to boost their spending on education by three per cent as a condition of securing the federal funding. The federal government's scheme will effectively double every dollar spent by the states and territories.

The funding will be awarded according to a base amount per student

The federal government funding will be based on a ˜school resource standard' the amount of money that is required to educate a child plus additional loadings for students suffering disadvantage. This includes students from low socioeconomic backgrounds, those of Indigenous descent, those attending small and remote schools, those with limited English and those with disabilities. The government has set this figure at $9271 per primary school student and $12,193 per secondary school student. The school resource standard will be publicly funded in government schools, while non-government schools will receive a proportion of the amount per student according to the capacity of the school community to make those contributions.

The proposed funding reform will be presented to the states on 19 April

The government will officially announce the school funding scheme to the states and territories at a Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting on Friday 19 April, where the state, territory and federal governments will try to reach an agreement. The proposed changes have been met with opposition from some states, with Queensland premier Campbell Newman arguing that the state will not be able to afford a three per cent increase to education. Western Australian premier Colin Barnett said that the proposed funding model would represent 25 per cent less funding per student than the state government already provides. States and territories that do not sign up to the federal government model by June 30 will have their current level of federal funding maintained, according to Prime Minister Gillard, at levels that were decreasing each year due to indexation.

The federal government will be cutting $2 billion from tertiary funding

The funding scheme has been met with strong opposition by many because the government has proposed to re-allocate $2.8 billion in funding from the tertiary sector in order to finance school funding reform. The cuts will involve cutting the 10 per cent discount currently received by students and parents when they pay their tertiary fees up front and requiring students who receive the federal government's Start-up Scholarship to repay the money once they are earning the repayment threshold.

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