Teachers step up Gonski campaign

TEACHERS have stepped up their push for a new national education funding system they say will improve the education of local kids.

The week-long Do Your Block for Gonski campaign has public school teachers distributing flyers in letterboxes, urging residents to register their support for the recommendations of the Gonski report with their local politicians and the nationwide I Give A Gonski campaign.

The Gonski report into school funding proposes a new model of funding where schools would receive base-funding on a per student basis, with extra loadings for such factors as rural and remote location, students with disabilities, indigenous students and students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

It says the new model needs to be created through the co-operation of federal and state governments, and also advocates a move away from targeted programs for disadvantaged students towards recurrent funding.

“It’s going to provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for schools in the North West to have a more equitable funding system evolve,” NSW Teachers Federation Tamworth office country organiser Marty Wheatley said.

Mr Wheatley said the proposed system was not only more equitable than current funding arrangements, but would inject more money into schools – based on 2012 figures, about an extra $6.5 billion nationwide annually.

This latest campaign aims to broaden public knowledge of the Gonski report and muster support and action within the community, he  said.

It has already attracted the support of New England MP Tony Windsor, who has encouraged the recommendations of the Gonski review be legislated.

Mr Windsor said that while money was tight, funding needed to be prioritised.

“If education for our kids isn’t a priority, then I don’t know what should be,” he said.

Teachers Federation representative at Oxley High School, Duncan Lovelock, said the recommended funding changes would help give students in country areas access to the same resources and teaching quality as those in city schools.

Mr Windsor believed School Education Minister Peter Garrett was keen to move quickly to introduce new measures, but said the state governments needed to agree to contribute funding.

But Mr Wheatley said this could be in doubt following the announcement in September of plans to cut $1.7 billion from education in NSW over the next four years.

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