Labor delay on public school funding deals with ‘betrayal’ of disadvantaged students, advocates say

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The Albanian government has been accused of betraying public schools after delaying a new funding deal for a year.

On Friday, the council of education ministers decided to extend the deal until December 2024, meaning governments won’t have to increase funding for public schools beyond existing commitments until 2025. .

Federal Education Minister Jason Clare has defended the delay as necessary to carry out a review to ensure funding is directed to the most needy students, but the Australian Education Union (AEU) has warned that “delayed resources are denied resources”.

Public schools receive 20% of the School Resourcing Standard (SRS) from the federal government and up to 75% from the states, but due to a capital amortization loophole are expected to remain at 91% of full funding for the rest of the decade.

Prior to the 2022 election, Labor had only pledged to develop a ‘pathway’ to full funding, prompting concern from the AEU that the timetable for improvement was unclear.

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Trevor Cobbold, the national organizer for public education lobby Save Our Schools, said the decision to delay a new national agreement on school reform is “the worst treachery of the job” that amounts to “betrayal of schools underfunded public services and disadvantaged students”.

“[The minister] says public schools are on track to be fully funded. The truth is they are on their way to a never-never land.

“Labour remained silent during the election campaign on the future funding of public schools. Now we know why.

Cobbold said public schools are only receiving an average of 87.1% of the school resource standard, and the current schedule is costing them $6 billion a year in funding.

AEU President Correna Haythorpe said the one-year extension “delays and therefore deprives public school students of the funding they need.”

“There is now a generation of children who have been denied full and fair funding for their entire school life. This can not go on. »

Haythorpe said the review should confirm that governments must “ensure that public schools are funded at a minimum of 100% of the [standard] from 2024”.

“The Australian Education Union, as the voice of public school principals, teachers and education support staff, will accept nothing less.”

The Greens announced they would protest the move by seeking to remove the 20% cap on federal contributions to public schools, which was legislated by the Turnbull government in the Gonski 2.0 funding program.

Greens schools spokeswoman Senator Penny Allman-Payne said the delay was ‘outrageous’ and would see ‘public school children wait another year for a fair start while still pouring in money public in elite private schools”.

“This decision will also put additional pressure on underfunded teachers and schools, and worsen the crippling shortage of teachers.”

Clare said the federal government is still “committed to working with state and territory governments to ensure that every school meets 100% of their level of equitable funding,” noting that the review, which will be launched next year, “will focus on driving real, measurable improvements for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.”

These included “regional, rural and remote Australia, First Nations students, students with disabilities and students from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds,” he said.

“It will also improve the transparency and accuracy of funding. Future funding will be linked to the reform.

Allman-Payne said a review by a group of eminent Australians was unnecessary as the Gonski report “has already done the job” in identifying the need for more needs-based funding.

“This Government will have a fight to fight in 2023… The Greens will use every lever at their disposal, inside and outside Parliament, to push Labor to deliver the funding that teachers have been asking for for a decade .”

Prior to the 2019 election, Labor pledged $14 billion over 10 years for public education, but the policy was scrapped after it was identified in Labor’s election review as one of the costly items that forced the opposition to proposing more revenue-raising measures.

The extension of the funding agreement has no impact on non-government schools, which are on track to 100% standard by 2029.

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