Gonski cuts ‘potentially diabolical’

PLANS to slash promised funding to schools under the Gonski model will cost the nation more than it will save, one Tamworth educator claims.

President of the New England Secondary Principals’ Association Bill Campbell said the funding that had already flowed to schools under the Gonski regime had been “extremely important” in many ways and, if it dried up after 2017, the ramifications would be “dramatic”.

The federal government has been under fire since announcing in its May budget it would abandon the final two years of the Gonski funding agreements with the states, during which time two-thirds of the money was to flow to schools.

DEVASTATING: Tamworth principal Bill Campbell says plans to slash funding to schools will have long-term ramifications for the nation. Photo: Barry Smith 290714BSB02

DEVASTATING: Tamworth principal Bill Campbell says plans to slash funding to schools will have long-term ramifications for the nation. Photo: Barry Smith 290714BSB02

Local NSW Teachers Federation organiser Susan Armstead has told The Leader it would equate to a cut of almost $42 million for New England schools.

Mr Campbell, the principal of Peel High School, said for his school the increased funding they’d already received had enabled the employment of staff members with a particular focus on attendance and welfare issues and more professional learning opportunities for teachers.

More money to assist students with attending excursions or extension activities such as university open days was another benefit. The beauty of the Gonski model, too, Mr Campbell said, was that it recognised indigenous, disabled and migrant students needed a bigger share of the funding pie and allocated the money accordingly.

He said a school like Peel High, with an indigenous population of 38 per cent, had enjoyed significantly more funding under Gonski, which could be channelled to the likes of targeted literacy and numeracy programs.

If the government proceeded with the planned cuts, those kinds of programs would vanish.

“It would have a dramatic impact on our school,” he said.

“Those programs would go ... and they’ve been shown to lift literacy and numeracy levels.”

Mr Campbell says the sacrificing of the Gonski funding in order to save the nation money made no sense. 

“It’s a false economy to make massive cuts in one area because ultimately society will be the poorer,” he said.

“This is an investment, and investment in education has shifted to a point where Australia is the richer for it.

“The cost of keeping people on unemployment benefits (because of poorer education outcomes), that is a false economy ... and the changes that have been proposed for tertiary education, that’s potentially diabolical.”

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