At a Federal Council meeting of the Independent Education Union of Australia (IEUA) on 24 May, the delegates from across Australia strongly rejected the Turnbull government’s school funding model on the grounds that it is not a ‘needs-based’ model and further it is not a reiteration of the model proposed by the Gonski Review panel.
The Union holds that the “model fails to measure and fund actual need, but claims to distribute the arbitrary ‘bucket’ on a relative needs basis. It abandons the calculation and attainment of measured learning needs.”
The Union at the same time welcomed the commitment of the ALP to meet the obligations and principles of the original Gonski Review.
The Turnbull government’s model will increase funding over the decade, but is $22 billion short of what schools had reasonably expected under the current funding act. This shortfall will impact on the most needy students in our school communities. The Union believes it is a nonsense that there are sufficient resources in the package to meet the identified needs including students with disabilities, Indigenous students and students in rural and remote areas.
The Turnbull model’s failings include the following:
• the model does not measure and fund the real cost of providing an education system as proposed in the Gonski Review. There will be no genuine Schooling Resource Standard (SRS)
• the proposed indexation rates do not reflect the historical and actual increased costs in the education sector, and
• the model has failed to provide a review of the socio economic status (SES) measure used to underpin the funding thus leaving the SES distribution process unreliable.
Of particular concern to the Union is the government’s intention to ‘tie’ school funding to policy decisions of the government with no consultation with the education sector and without any detail of these requirements. The government’s pre-election school policy and budget paper documentation suggest that this will include ‘performance pay’ models, including measurement of student outcomes. At a time when the Union is negotiating with employers for measures to improve teacher workload agreements and address escalating work intensification, it would be untenable to then see this funding regime impose new unreasonable requirements on teachers.
There have been daily media reports about the reaction of the Catholic sector to the Turnbull government’s funding model. The messages from the sector have been inconsistent and confused. Communication to members of school and diocesan communities about the likely impact of the model on issues such as fees has been similarly contradictory. The Union has regularly sought consultation with sector leaders with at best a reluctant response and is disappointed about the somewhat chaotic public messaging.
The Union will continue active engagement in school funding issues. As a priority this branch of the IEUA will insist on consultation with employers on avoiding negative impacts between school funding and ties to policy.