Simon Birmingham is under fire for his fiery defence of Government education spending
Mar 16, 2016 | News | by The Learning Press staff
Australia’s biggest teaching union has slammed the federal education minister for playing politics over schools funding.
The Australian Education Union has reacted angrily to a speech by Simon Birmingham on Tuesday in which he berated the states and territories for criticising the Government on education spending.
The minister accused his state counterparts of having the “gall” to complain about schools funding when they are responsible for providing the lion’s share of each school’s budget.
AEU federal president Corenna Haythorpe claimed the minister was “all over the place” on the issue of schools funding, saying: “We don’t need partisan politicking by Minister Birmingham about which level of government should take responsibility for schools.
“We need him to deliver the Federal Government’s share of the full six years of Gonski funding which disadvantaged schools need.
“The Gonski Review called on both federal and state governments to fund schools on the basis of need.
“It recognised that for this to occur the Federal Government would need to increase its funding to public schools.”
At an Independent Schools Council of Australia even this week, Minister Birmingham challenged claims that Gonski funding was producing significant educational improvements in disadvantaged schools.
He said analysis of the latest NAPLAN results showed some of the schools recording the biggest improvements had seen their funding fall.
"The federal per-student funding for students in state government schools is 66 per cent higher, in real terms, than 10 years ago, yet some states still have the gall to say there's a funding crisis," he said.
"If there is, then the blame rests comfortably on their heads.
“The states cannot and should not be let off the hook for what is ultimately their prime responsibility in terms of how much they spend and how they allocate their spending.
"This is especially the case for those states who scream loudest for more money, yet invest the least themselves."
NSW education minister Adrian Piccoli refuted the argument on Gonski, telling The Learning Press: “In every school I visit, I see examples of money being put to good use to improve student results and wellbeing.
“As the additional funding reaches schools, we are seeing improvements student by student and school by school.
“I am confident this will translate into improved NAPLAN results.”
The Gillard Government signed partnership deals with the states and territories in 2013 to significantly increase needs-based funding to schools following a review by David Gonski.
The Abbott Government then announced plans to drop the final two years of the six-year model in favour of new spending agreements - and while the new Government has yet to outline how it will fund schools, Senator Birmingham has flagged a move to a cheaper, inflation-linked system.
The review identified “an imbalance in the provision of funding to government and non-government schools by the Australian and state and territory governments.
“In particular, the Australian Government could play a greater role in supporting state and territory governments to meet the needs of disadvantaged students in both government and non-government schools,” it stated.
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