What is the Gonski model?

In 2011 David Gonski recommended a new funding arrangement for schools based on calculating what it costs for each student in primary and secondary schools to have the resources for a quality education. This year, this funding target (or Schooling Resource Standard) it is set at $10,953 per primary student and $13,764 per secondary student. Each year this amount goes up to cover the increasing costs of running a school.

On top of this amount are ‘loadings’ or additional amounts for meeting certain educational needs based on socio-economic background, disability, English language proficiency and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander background.

What's wrong with Gillard's Gonski?

The Gillard Government didn’t adopt the Genuine Gonski. Labor walked away from the central premise that all schools should be funded on the basis of need.

Labor promised ‘no school would lose a dollar’, which sounds great, but actually it means the wealthiest schools will keep getting more and more money while those scarce resources deprive the least well-off of funds.

The indexation amounts locked into legislation mean that poorer schools will take more than a hundred years catch up to those schools that are overfunded. Inequality of opportunity is currently locked into law.

>An analysis by the Independent Grattan Institute states ‘Labor’s education plan taken to the 2016 federal election would have added megabucks but still not achieved consistent needs-based funding for another 100 years’

*Submission to Senate Education and Employment Legislative Committee. May 2017 page 2.

What are the Labor and Liberal parties saying and why?

The Labor party is claiming the Turnbull Government is ‘cutting’ $22 billion from schools over the decade. This is simply the difference between what Labor promised at the last election, not what is in law right now, and what the Turnbull government is offering. Labor are not currently in government so, while their promises sound great, they actually mean nothing right now.

Meanwhile, the Turnbull Government is claiming it is a ‘boost’ in funding of $16 billion over the decade, but this is based on the low levels that former Prime Minister Abbott stripped it back to.

What we have as a result of all this is two parties playing politics, while our public schools lose out.

But won't some public schools get their funding cut under the Government’s Gonski 2.0 proposal?

No public school system in Australia will receive a cut under the proposed funding model. The only notionally ‘overfunded’ public schools in Australia are those in the Northern Territory, but they have been given additional funding under the government’s proposed plan so that their funding won’t go backwards. Government schools in every state will see their funding increase. Because they are all funded at different rates by the Commonwealth currently, the rate at which they increase will be different. Historically underfunded states will increase at a faster rate than those that are closer to the target.

Why does the Gonski model matter?

The ‘Gonski’ model matters because it says all schools, no matter whether they are public, independent or religious should be funded on the basis of removing disadvantage, so that all schools will one day be funded completely equally at their funding target.

The Genuine Gonski matters, because it will empower all children to reach their potential and not fall behind simply on the basis of where they were born or what challenges they face in their lives, through no fault of their own.

What is the Government’s proposal?

The Turnbull government wants to remove the distorted funding formula currently built into law and replace it with a system that would take money from overfunded schools and give money to underfunded schools over the next ten years.

We think that ten years is too long for students to wait. A child today in 2nd Grade attending a disadvantaged school would not be funded the same as her friend in the nearby wealthy school until her final year of High School. That is not acceptable.

The Turnbull government also wants to walk away from collaborative state-funding agreements by simply putting its money on the table and telling the states to do the rest. They will provide 80 per cent of private schools’ funding target by 2027 and only 20 per cent of public schools. This means that children in public schools have no certainty that they will ever reach their target. Their future rests entirely on the whim of under-resourced State and Territory governments.

Will there be an impact on Catholic Schools?

Part of the problem with the Labor model was all the special deals for special sectors. Under the Gonski formula, the socioeconomic status (SES) of student’s households are used to calculate a ‘capacity to pay’ which reduces the amount of government funding private schools receive. The wealthier the parents are, the less government support they receive.

The current legislation states that the Education Minister can change this formula by regulation, so Labor did this for the Catholic Schools by averaging out the SES scores across all Catholic and Anglican schools, rather than apportioning funding to each school according to its socio-economic status. The Catholic and Anglican Authorities then spend the money in the way that they want.

Turnbull wants to remove this Ministerial power so that each Catholic School gets what it deserves, rather than being averaged across all schools. This means less money than what they were expecting, but they will still get more money each year.

Under the Gonski 2.0 model, the Authorities will still be able to distribute the pool of funding as they see fit. The Greens want money paid directly to schools so that poorer Catholic schools get more than their wealthier ones.

While these proposed changes equally affect Anglican schools, so far it is only Catholic Schools that are fighting the proposal.

Have Your Say

The Greens are the only party still fighting for David Gonski’s original vision for school funding