Turnbull government budget continues school funding uncertainty, threatens performance pay for teachers
The Turnbull government has announced an ‘additional’ $1.2 billion in school funding for the years 2018-2020 however the figure falls well short of the $4.5 billion in funding the current model had promised over those two years.
The funding indexation rate of 3.56% also falls short of the 4.7% earmarked by the current funding model and leaves many schools such as low-fee independent schools and those with high proportions of students with disability, facing a widening gap of disadvantage.
Our union Branch Secretary Terry Burke said an appropriate school funding model is one in which loadings are based on school size and location and additional money is provided for schools with students who face disadvantage.
“Our schools need funding certainty and the surety of resources to give every child an equitable, quality education. Instead what schools are being offered by this government is funding uncertainty and a significant diminution of what they were promised,” he said.
Government flags performance pay for teachers
In addition to the short-fall in funding, teachers also face the threat of performance pay. Among a number of budget initiatives to ‘improve outcomes’ in education is a proposal to introduce a performance-based salary structure for teachers. The plan to “link teacher salary progression to demonstrated competency and achievement against the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers, rather than just length of service” is a threat to the current entitlements of all teachers in our sector.
Mr Burke said that while the government’s announcement in relation to performance pay was vague and undefined, any attempt to link teacher salaries to perceived performance should be rejected.
“Linking teacher salaries with performance is reckless and has been demonstrated in other countries to be an ineffective strategy in improving student outcomes and deleterious to the collegial collaboration essential for good teaching practice.
“It is impossible to articulate a universal definition of quality teaching that might be used across all schools and sectors and this lack of a universally accepted definition makes it difficult to envision any truly objective means of assessing which teachers receive ‘performance pay’”.
Mr Burke said the assumption that teacher performance has a direct relationship to standardised test results shows an extraordinary lack of insight into the complexity and nature of teaching and learning.
“Teachers can, of course, influence student outcomes, but both students and teachers work within a complex of factors that determine the strength of this influence. Nor can there be a simple correlation between the teacher and the calibre of the student learning,” he said.