Has Gonski missed the mark with needs-based funding?

The Northern Territory will be among the biggest losers from Gonski 2.0, with the Turnbull government’s $18.6 billion education reforms leaving 344 schools with less funding than they would have received under Labor’s previous model. While much has been made of how this applies to prestigious private institutions such as Sydney Grammar School, there should be more focus on why 151 government schools in Australia’s most educationally challenged territory will be worse off than they would have under the original Gonski model.

It is well worth mentioning that more than 9,000 schools throughout Australia will get a financial boost, with Education Minister Simon Birmingham pointing out that “funding for government schools in the Northern Territory will increase by $39 million over the next four years and almost $69 million over 10 years.” However, is this really a fair trade off when you consider more than a third of the negatively affected schools are from the Top End?

The fundamental ideology behind Gonski has always been that it is a ‘needs-based model’, designed to provide support for students from Indigenous, low socio-economic, regional and remote backgrounds. It’s fair to say that government schools in the Northern Territory would have plenty of students that fall into one or more of these categories. 

Gonski 2.0 has certainly filled in plenty of blanks about the direction of funding in the Australian school sector but there are still several questions that remain unanswered.

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