Govt moves changes to Gonski reforms


Govt moves changes to Gonski reforms

AAPUpdated June 4, 2013, 8:13 pm

States that don’t agree to the federal government’s plan for schools will be funded in line with the present model but will be allowed to sign on after the June 30 deadline.

School Education Minister Peter Garrett has introduced amendments to the Australian Education Bill 2012 to address gaps in the legislation from last November.

They detail how states and the non-government sector will be paid and how they would be held accountable under the national education reform agreement (NERA).

Mr Garrett said school results just weren’t good enough, and if Australia was to win the economic race it needed to improve the “broken” school funding system.

“The amendments … ensure that we right a moral wrong, and that we secure our economic future,” he told the House of Representatives.

“The purpose of the amendments is to enshrine in law a national approach to funding school education that ensures that schools are funding according to the needs of their students.”

The government wants the amendments to pass parliament by June 27, the last sitting day before the September 14 election.

A June 30 deadline was set for states and territories to agree to the new funding model, which is based on the schools review headed by businessman David Gonski.

But the legislation does not prohibit them signing up later.

If they don’t sign up, they will lose money once time-limited national partnerships end. Most of these are due to wind up within 12 months.

States and territories would have to enact national school education policy initiatives and pass on non-government schools funding to approved authorities as a condition of grants under the new plan.

The bill includes the current funding model for schools so states and territories that don’t sign up to the new plan will keep their present indexation.

Schools below a set schooling resource standard (SRS) would receive 4.7 per cent growth a year in commonwealth funding.

Schools above the SRS would receive 3.0 per cent annually until they are in line with a new, higher standard for all.

Once schools reach the SRS, their funding would increase at 3.6 per cent a year.

Schools will receive extra loadings for size, location, indigenous students, students from low socio-economic backgrounds or with a disability.

The minister would be able to cut or delay payments if a state or territory failed to comply with any conditions of funding.

Schools would have a greater ability to appeal their funding loadings under the new bill.

There would be a two-stage step, with the first appeal to be assessed by a senior education departmental officer while a second review would be done by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) if needed.

NSW and the ACT have signed up.

A future government would have to amend the legislation to scrap the funding package and scrap the bi-lateral agreement between the commonwealth and state.

The amendments were agreed after the house voted down, by a single vote, a long opposition amendment.

That amendment was essentially a manifesto about the need for all students to have a quality education.

With its amendment defeated, the opposition didn’t oppose the bill.

However the final stages of its passage were adjourned to later on Tuesday night.

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