Australia has a historic opportunity to fund all schools properly, at no extra cost
by Peter Goss
A new deal among governments and school systems can end Australia’s toxic school funding debate and transform teaching and learning in schools, without costing the Commonwealth more money, according to a new Grattan Institute report.
Circuit breaker: a new compact on school funding argues that historically low inflation rates give the Government an unprecedented opportunity to reduce excessive school indexation payments that are locked into legislation, saving the nation billions of dollars.
The report calls on all governments to use part of the savings to create the needs-based funding system all main parties say they want, as well as new roles for expert teachers to lift student performance.
As education ministers prepare to meet next month to discuss a new funding model, Grattan Institute School Education Program Director Peter Goss says the compact offers the circuit breaker Australia’s 50-year old argument over school funding desperately needs.
“It shows how we can reallocate funds to get all schools to their needs-based funding target by 2023, without spending any more money over the next four years than the Turnbull Government proposed in its 2016 Budget.”
Under its proposals, under-funded schools are much better off compared to the model legislated by the Gillard government in 2013 and the 2016 Budget. Chronically disadvantaged schools gain the most.
About half of schools close to or at their targets would have slower funding growth than under the legislation. But they maintain their purchasing power and most of them will be better funded than today.
A very small number of over-funded schools (only 3 per cent) would get less money.
“These changes are essential to create a school system that gives every Australian child a fair chance in life,” Mr Goss said.
“But money alone cannot create that system. It must be spent well. All the evidence shows that if you want to lift student outcomes, you have to invest in the most effective teaching.”
The compact recommends a structural change to create two new roles: Master Teachers and Instructional Leaders who will work in schools and across clusters of schools to improve teaching effectiveness in maths, science, English and other fields.
“It is time to end the exhausted funding debate and to start the debate that counts in this century – how to improve teaching for all students in all schools,” Mr Goss said.
For further enquiries: Pete Goss, Program Director, School Education
T. +61 (0)3 8344 3637 E. firstname.lastname@example.org