Schools Post-election analysis: fair funding long overdue

After more than nine years of a federal Coalition government that treated public education with complete disregard, the AEU is looking forward to working with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and the new Labor government to address the needs of public education across early childhood, schools and TAFE.

The results are undergoing much post-election analysis. However, what seems clear is that the Australian community has had enough of Canberra’s divisive and combative style of politics, and that we want clear action on climate change, equality, and political integrity. 

At the AEU, we look forward to a more cooperative approach between state and federal governments to see public school funding increased to a minimum of 100% of the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) as a matter of urgency.

The National Schools Reform Agreement, which determines the funding arrangements between federal, state and territory governments, is due for renewal next year. The AEU will be working hard to ensure Victorian students and school staff benefit from a fairer funding deal. 

Public schools must be provided with the resources and policy settings to ensure that a high-quality education is delivered for all, regardless of background or circumstances. Australia has one of the most inequitable education systems in the world. Public schools are only funded to 90.4% of the SRS, while private schools are already at or in excess of 100%.

Federal Labor has stated its commitment to striking a new funding deal that ensures every Australian public school is on a clear path to reach 100%, but we must continue to lobby to ensure that happens as quickly as possible. 

Federal Labor has stated its commitment to striking a new funding deal that ensures every Australian public school is on a clear path to reach 100%, but we must continue to lobby to ensure that happens as quickly as possible.

The Andrews government rightly pushed the former Morrison government for the federal contribution to be increased from 20% to 25% of the SRS. The federal government must also remove the provision in the current agreement that allows the state to write off 4% of public funding, thereby increasing the state contribution from 70% to 75% and helping to close the funding gap.

Congratulations to the many members who took part in the AEU’s federal election campaign, making the case for fair funding for public education. Fairer funding means greater support for students with disability, or from rural and regional areas, from low SES families, or those with English as a second language. It also means workload relief, more staff, smaller class sizes, improved resources and administrative support, upgraded facilities, and more allied health support.

The election of a new government provides opportunities we’ve been denied for a very long time. We now need to continue our fight to ensure public education gets the resources it needs.

State budget

This year’s state budget features welcome investment for public schools. The government allocated $779 million for an extra 2,000 teachers to support the face-to-face reduction, a welcome funding boost to support students with disability, and record investment of $1.6 billion for new schools, upgrades and maintenance. It provides $277.5m to support the implementation of the new integrated senior secondary certificate.

The budget also funds the continuation of a range of programs, including the middle years literacy and numeracy strategy; the Student Excellence Program, supporting high-ability students to reach their potential; and Respectful Relationships. There is also additional support for mental health; for rural and regional students to build equity and excellence; and for programs to support Indigenous students, students for whom English is a second language, and those who are disengaged from school; along with additional school nurses and allied health services.

There is also funding for a range of measures to support school staff through the development of the new Victorian Academy of Teaching and Leadership; the development of high-quality teaching and learning software; financial incentives to attract additional teachers, including CRTs willing to relocate to regional Victoria; funding for an extra 100 primary maths specialists; and additional training for 50 secondary maths and 25 secondary science teachers currently teaching ‘out of field’.

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