Gonski 2.0 funding: where to now
- More than $4 billion of extra funding to non-government schools under leaked federal Coalition government offer.
- Under this arrangement, Catholic schools would need to adopt a needs-based funding model from 2019 or remain on a projected SES score until 2027.
- School funding must be needs-based, transparent and equitable for government and non-government schools.
The federal Coalition government apparent commitment of an extra $4.4 billion of education funding to non-government schools would introduce a needs-based funding model with some schools transitioning to new funding sooner while others will remain on their existing socio-economic status (SES) until 2027.
This comes after concerns from the independent and Catholic education sectors regarding adequate resourcing of the sector and fulfilling recommendations found in the Gonski Through Growth to Achievement Report .
What is the issue?
With new Prime Minister Scott Morrison and new federal Coalition Minister for Education Dan Tehan previously promoting a broader reform agenda in schools — including the recommendations of the Gonski 2.0 report— the federal Coalition government has reconsidered its approach to education funding.
An extra $4.4 billion of funding would be on the condition that Catholic education authorities adopt a needs-based funding model taking into account parent’s capacity to pay school fees.
On average, Catholic school students receive 17 per cent less government funding than if they attended government schools, with additional fees from parents to maintain high quality education.
A review of the SES modelling formula by Michael Chaney found the original projections of the Gonski 2.0 model needed changing.
The Chaney committee analysis recommends moving to a direct measure of parental income to determine the school SES scores to replace the current area-based measure.
The previous funding arrangement saw Catholic schools receive the same amount of funding regardless of the schools SES scores.
However, the calculation of the SES score on family data can be problematic, particularly as it provides some anomalies in cases where students from “poorer” areas attend “richer” schools and in boarding schools which can have students from rural areas.
Under the purported funding deal, Catholic schools that benefited from the model put forward in the Chaney recommendations would move to the new system next year; however, 40 per cent of Catholic schools would keep their projected SES 2011 score until 2027.
The Catholic sector wants adequate federal funding at a level that allows them to run any school, anywhere, at a low fee; this position is founded on a view that anyone is able to afford to attend a Catholic school while also allowing the sector to make their own judgements on funding individual schools.
Independent schools which did not have the data to transition to the new model could stay at their 2011 or 2016 SES schools for 2019 and 2020.
While independent schools were allegedly happy with the former Turnbull/Birmingham Coalition government SES arrangement as it subjected all schools to the same formula, the introduction of any special deal for the Catholic sector would subsequently reopen the debate on “funding wars.”
The Australian Labor Party (ALP) has committed to investing in both government and non-government schools by restoring $17 billion —an extra $250m to the Catholic sector— that the federal Coalition government has cut from the Gillard government’s funding commitment to schools.
How will this impact on teachers?
While any additional funding for non-government schools is welcome, our union has long argued for and supported school funding arrangements and measures which are needs-based, transparent and equitable, no matter which school a student chooses to attend.
All schools should be funded fairly based on the unique needs of each child; it is vital that governments fund Catholic and independent schools fairly into the future.