Saturday, 2 January 2016

BSSC principal Dale Pearce, right, says more delays in funding certainty was the last thing public schools needed.

From the Bendigo Advertiser

BENDIGO Senior Secondary College principal Dale Pearce has accused the federal government of “patronising principals and school councils” after the government refused to honour the final two years of the Gonski school funding model.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham announced the decision on Monday, instead preferring to renegotiate a new education funding model with the states, to start from 2018.

The decision was based on an assertion that extra money did not necessarily mean better outcomes for schools, and that state governments needed to be held accountable for their education spending.

Mr Pearce said he was skeptical of the reasons for the policy change, which had previously been flagged by the government.

“I am dismayed by Birmingham's assertion that public schools cannot be trusted to spend additional funding wisely,” he said.

“If the minister wants the trust of schools he should avoid patronising principals and school councils.”

On Wednesday, Member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters said the decision would rip millions of dollars of projected funding from schools in the Bendigo electorate.

The Gonski model focused on a needs-based funding model, which received bipartisan support from the Coalition and Labor, targeting funding to schools where it was needed most.

The Education Minister told Fairfax Media earlier this week he continued to support a needs-based model, but did not support Labor’s model, which he described as “a complicated model that lacks fairness and transparency”.

Mr Pearce described the move as a “delaying tactic” and said public schools had been waiting long enough for certainty around a genuine needs-based approach.

“David Gonski's expert panel delivered their recommendations to government in late 2011,” he said.

“The LNP had two years in opposition and two years in government to develop an alternative schools funding model.

“Now they want another two years. It's not good enough.”

The new agreement – expected to be negotiated before next year’s election – will cover four years from 2018.

Both the Victorian and New South Wales education ministers have been lobbying the federal government to fund Gonski in full, with the New South Wales Coalition government already expressing its disappointment at this week’s announcement.

Mr Peace said with billions of dollars wasted on “the wrong priorities” in the last 15 years, there was hope the Gonski agreement would bring the right approach to education funding.

“Constitutionally, education is a state responsibility. We need to strike a new balance between the commonwealth and the states,” he said.

“We've had an increasing level of federal intervention for the last 15 years and during that time Australia's educational performance on international tests has declined as our needy students fall further behind and our highest performers flatline.”

ALP advertising over Gonski

Cuts to education just in Sydney.

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