Greens Demand Complete Funding for Public Schools in Letters to Education Ministers

The Greens have written to the education ministers of the Commonwealth, each state, and each territory today, urging them to fully fund public schools in light of the PISA results that were released overnight, which showed a widening achievement gap between students from different backgrounds.

The results of the 2022 Programme for International Student Assessment, which were made public overnight, provide additional proof of the harm that Australia’s youth are suffering as a result of our public schools’ ongoing underfunding.

According to the report, there is growing inequality in Australia’s educational system, with the difference between students who are advantaged and those who are not. As long as the current arrangements for funding schools exist, this trend is likely to continue and become more harmful.

Only 1.3% of Australia’s public schools receive funding equal to 100% of the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) more than ten years after the Gonski review. Concurrently, 98% of private schools continue to receive more funding than their SRS, and the inequality is exacerbated by their continued use of ever-increasing private fees.

The total amount of recurring funding provided by Commonwealth, state, and territory governments to independent schools has increased by 34.04% in the ten years following Gonski, whereas spending on Catholic schools has increased by 31.17%. Public school spending grew by just 16.92%.

We do not have a needs-based, sector-blind funding system because the Commonwealth and state and territory governments failed to implement the Gonski reforms as a whole. In fact, it is the exact opposite: a needs-blind, sector-based jumble of special offers, exemptions, and get-out clauses.

Following Gonski, subsequent school funding agreements have increased systemic inequality rather than lessening its impact on student outcomes.

Disadvantage’s long tail is expanding. In Australia, a child’s educational success and life opportunities are more heavily influenced by their parents’ wealth than ever before. In a wealthy nation that claims to value justice and equality, this is intolerable.

In the upcoming months, there will be negotiations for the new National School Reform Agreement (NSRA) and bilateral agreements. The final Education Ministers Meeting for 2023 is scheduled for next week. This is a historic chance for you to put an end to ten years of false dawns and broken promises and provide 100% SRS funding to all public schools by January 2025.

Senator Penny Allman-Payne, the Green Party’s spokesperson on primary and secondary education, made the following remarks:

The socioeconomic status of an Australian child is the single most important factor influencing their academic performance. This is intolerable in a wealthy nation that claims to cherish justice.

According to PISA data, only 40% of students in the lowest socioeconomic quartile are reading and science at the national proficiency level, and fewer than a third are proficient in mathematics. Approximately 75% of the wealthiest pupils meet or surpass the benchmark.On the mainland and at the federal level, labour is in charge. The time is now to finally realise the Gonski vision of a truly needs-based and sector-blind funding model, after ten years of false starts and delays.

“We urge education ministers to seriously consider the PISA report and agree to fully fund public schools at the start of the next National School Reform Agreement, in January 2025,” the statement reads. Education ministers are meeting on Monday.

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