Schools We have waited long enough

  • By Meredith Peace
  • This article was published more than 9 months ago.
  • 16 Aug 2023
Meredith Peace addressing the media at the launch of the AEU's funding campaign. Photo: Sam Danby

The AEU’s national school funding campaign, ‘For Every Child. Fully Fund Public Schools’, was launched on 2 August.

The AEU campaign sends a clear message to the Albanese government that public schools must be fully funded so that every child has every opportunity to succeed. It was over ten years ago that new funding arrangements were put in place, yet 98% of public schools are still not fully funded, while 98% of private schools are. A generation of children will finish their schooling without ever being fully funded. That is a national disgrace!

Fully funded public schools are better able to meet the individual needs of students; provide the intensive support that some students need; enable smaller class sizes; address unsustainable workloads; and provide specialist support.

This funding debate has dragged on for too long. Ten years ago, the Gonski model was supposed to increase funding to a nationally set schooling resource standard (SRS), and send additional funding to the schools most in need. Disgracefully, successive governments have tampered with that model.

In 2013, state and federal governments reached agreements to increase contributions, and a six-year timeline was established towards 100% of the SRS.

Then the changes started:

  • In 2013, Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced that ‘no school would lose a dollar’, resulting in private schools having their funding maintained.

  • In 2014, the Abbott government cut the funding due in Years 5 and 6 (2017 and 2018), and reduced public school funding targets to 95% of the SRS.

  • In 2017, the Turnbull government legislated a cap of 20% on the federal contribution to the SRS for public schools, whilst Catholic and other private schools received 80%. They argued that states were responsible for public school funding.

  • From 2018, the Morrison government delivered more than $10bn in special deals for private schools, including access to JobKeeper, building funds, drought and flood relief, and COVID-19 supports. NO additional funding was provided to public schools.

The Albanese and Andrews governments must be held accountable for funding public schools to 100% of the SRS.

As AEU Federal president Correna Haythorpe said at the campaign launch, “The needs of our children are growing but the funding from governments hasn’t kept up. Principal and teacher workloads are unsustainable, and more and more teachers are leaving the profession early.”

The Albanese and Andrews governments must be held accountable for funding public schools to 100% of the SRS. AEU members’ voices are critical to sending that message to our leaders.

This work began while we were in Canberra recently, meeting with MPs and Federal Education Minister Jason Clare.

Victorian activities will pressure state and federal Labor party members to ensure that the next funding agreements deliver full funding to public schools.

Our message is clear – teachers, principals and support staff are giving 100% for their students. We need our politicians to do the same.

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