In a rapid move, the Minister of Education, Christopher Pyne, has threatened to take Gonski away from schools. This means that NSW schools face losing more than $2 billion over the next six years as a result of the Abbott government’s plans to abandon the last two years of Gonski money and change the way funding is distributed.
Mr Pyne hardened his position, appearing to confirm some schools might lose funding despite an election promise to the contrary, while flagging a return to a Howard-era funding model discredited by NSW’s Coalition government.
Principals have been blindsided by the broken promise, saying it could disadvantage hundreds of thousands of students.NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli joined Labor state education ministers in accusing Mr Pyne of breaking an election promise of a “unity ticket” on Gonski and labelling any shift away from needs-based modelling as a “body-blow” for education.
“He must be the only person in Australia who thinks the SES (socioeconomic status) model is a good model,” Mr Piccoli said. “The Gonski panel said ‘no’ (and) if you walk into any school in NSW every teacher and principal would say ‘no’.”
What is Gonski?
The Gonski review found that Australia has one of the biggest gaps between high- and low-performing students among developed countries.
It also found that performance is strongly linked to students’ socioeconomic backgrounds. Funding allocations exacerbated this situation.
It made 41 recommendations for a fair, equitable and efficient school funding system.
The main recommendation was a $6.5 billion a year funding increase distributed to schools that gave each student a benchmark amount plus extra money, or ‘’loadings’’, for specific disadvantages.
The former federal Labor government developed a plan that would start next year, injecting an estimated $14.5 billion over six years, with the Commonwealth contributing two-thirds of the funding.
The NSW government’s share was to be $5.1 billion over six years.