Gonski school funding reform update

In light of the federal government’s recent political turmoil and leadership change, you may be wondering how the Gonski reforms detailed in the Better Schools: A National Plan for School Improvement scheme have been affected. Let us fill you in on the state of affairs as they now stand.

  • Federal school funding legislation — known as the Australian Education Bill — has passed the Senate, meaning it is now Australian law.
     
  • As it stands, NSW, SA and the ACT are the only jurisdictions that have signed up for Gonski. Negotiations with the NT, Queensland, Tasmania, Victoria and WA are proving more difficult for the federal government.
     
  • As a result of the reforms, extra funding will be received by Catholic and independent schools across Australia regardless of whether the remaining states and territories sign up. As for public schools, those in jurisdictions that do sign up will receive the federal funding, while those in non-participating jurisdictions will miss out and continue to be funded at the current levels, subject to indexation.
     
  • Reports surfaced in recent months speculating that Kevin Rudd would dump the Gonski reforms if he became Prime Minister, but this has been rejected by his office, with a spokesperson verifying that Mr Rudd supports the federal government’s policy. As Prime Minister, Mr Rudd is yet to address his stance towards school funding reform.
     
  • Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard imposed a date of June 30 for states to sign up, but this is not mentioned in the legislation. It is expected that Mr Rudd will extend the deadline, giving the states and territories more time to sign up to the school funding reforms.

Victoria

Victorian Premier Denis Napthine has said it will not sign up for Gonski unless the federal government contributes $7 billion — $4.3 billion more than what it has offered. He has also called for a change to the legislation that has already been passed to reduce the federal government’s power over how Victorian schools are run. Dr Napthine has promised Victorian schools $3.5 in state government funding even if the national funding bid fails. 

New South Wales

In April, NSW became the first state to sign up for the Gonski school education forms, which would see NSW schools gain an extra $5 billion — more than any other state or territory.

Australian Capital Territory

In May, the ACT became the second jurisdiction to sign up for the Gonski school education forms, which would result in an extra $190 million in funding for ACT schools over six years.

Queensland

Queensland Premier Campbell Newman says there has been no movement towards an agreement with the federal government over the Gonski reforms. He said that the state will not sign up until significant changes are made, including the reversal of federal higher education funding cuts, the assurance of long-term federal funding for kindergartens and the reduction of ‘red tape’ surrounding the Gonski proposal.

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