Funding needed to address literacy and numeracy standards

Calls for NSW Government to match funding commitments put forward by the opposition

New South Wales’s alarming deterioration in literacy and numeracy standards will worsen unless the state government matches the opposition’s commitment to reach 100 percent of the schooling resource standard (SRS), according to the McKell Institute.

The NSW Opposition has committed to reaching the SRS funding benchmark if elected in this year’s poll, after the McKell Institute found that NSW had experienced the largest decline in education standards of any state and territory in Australia. This includes the largest decline in mean reading literacy of any state and territory in Australia since 2000, and the largest decline in mathematics scores since 2012.

In research released last year, the McKell Institute found that the average NSW public school student is currently underfunded by $1550 to $1629 every year.

“I congratulate the NSW Opposition for recognising what has to be done to arrest the state’s alarming slide into global mediocracy on literacy and numeracy,” said McKell Institute executive director Michael Buckland. “Our latest research found there are a range of effective measures that could address the problem, but they all cost money. The convenient fiction that somehow we could fix the problem without investing more has to end. Our economy relies on skills and knowledge, without which we are doomed to falling prosperity and declining living standards.”

“I note NSW Labor has promised a permanent literacy and numeracy tutoring program to lift falling standards, a measure that was recommended by our report due to a strong record of success overseas. But tutors obviously cost money, and that’s where increasing funding to 100 percent of the SRS is vital.

“The NSW Government has unfortunately overseen the state’s decline in literacy and numeracy against other jurisdictions in our region and around the world. Fully funding our schools should not be a partisan issue and we urge the Government to match Labor’s commitment.”

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