The Australian Education Union (AEU) says recommendations in the Through Growth to Achievement Report of the Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools released today require significant resources, yet PM Malcolm Turnbull has cut $1.9 billion funding to public schools over the next two years alone.
This is a significant and comprehensive report which highlights some of the key challenges facing education in Australia today but it does not go far enough in addressing the resource shortages facing public schools under the Turnbull Government’s school funding agenda.
“We are pleased that a number of the review’s recommendations are consistent with those made in the AEU’s submission,” said Correna Haythorpe, president of the Australian Education Union.
“We called for strong systemic support for schools, including fair funding of public schools.We called for assessment processes to be intricately linked to teaching and learning, better workforce planning, induction, mentoring and ongoing professional learning for teachers, principals and support staff and time for teaching and learning including time for principals to be educational leaders.
“Given there are a number of recommendations that could deliver positive results, the Turnbull Government must resolve the funding shortfall for public schools to ensure that they are at 100% of the Schooling Resource Standard.
“Teachers are the experts when it comes to meeting the needs of students in their classrooms.Policies designed to lift student performance must be formulated with substantial and ongoing input from principals, teachers and education support staff.
“Our submission highlighted the fact that teaching is a collegiate and collaborative profession with significant expertise already in our schools. Any new education research institution must be driven by teachers because there is already a huge body of evidence in the field about best practice teaching and learning.We do not want to see ‘experts’ with no classroom experience telling teachers how to teach.
“Equally when it comes to curriculum, we support a broad and dynamic curriculum that allows every child to reach their full potential. Proposals to look at the Australian Curriculum and year 11 and year 12 must put teachers at the centre of curriculum development.
“We cannot meaningfully talk testing or new assessment frameworks without first addressing funding inequity. Taking a test does not improve education outcomes rather it identifies where there are student learning needs and then schools can target programs to support their students. We know that when schools have the resources they need to give students the individual attention they need, we see improved educational outcomes. This is evident in the many schools that have used Gonski needs based funding for this purpose.
“The devil is always in the detail, it will be the details of what the Turnbull Government intends to do with the review’s recommendations.
“If the Turnbull Government thinks that this report and its recommendations will be a distraction from the critical issue of funding, then they are wrong. We remain resolute in our objective of achieving fair funding now for public schools.
“The Turnbull Government’s funding cuts leave 87% of public schools below the minimum level of funding required.
“We do not have a needs-based funding system, despite what Minister Birmingham might want parents to believe.Minister Birmingham has provided no clarity for public school communities about how the underfunding of public schools will be addressed with the release of today’s report,” said Ms Haythorpe.The AEU calls on the Turnbull Government to:
- Reverse the $1.9 billion cuts to public schools in 2018 and 2019.
- Strike agreements with state and territory governments to ensure every public school is funded to 100 percent of the schooling resources standard (SRS) by 2023.
- Remove the 20 percent cap on federal funding to public schools.
- Establish a $300 million per annum capital infrastructure fund for public schools to make sure all students are educated in classrooms that meet their learning needs.
- Reverse the cuts to disability funding in five states and territories.
The AEU’s submission to the Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools
The AEU’s national school funding campaign Fair Funding Now