Principals back calls for a level playing field

by Heather Jane21 Jun 2016

The Australian Government Primary Principals Association (AGPPA) says the government must commit to full Gonski funding if it wants to close the disadvantage gap in Australian schools.
AGPPA president, Gabrielle Leigh, said the recent report, titled: The Uneven Playing Field: The State of Australian Schools, supported AGPPA’s position on the need for Gonski Funding in Years 5 and 6 to be implemented in full.
“The findings are vital and the recommendations are a positive first step in renewing reform and balance in the school system,” Leigh said in a statement yesterday.
She added that the Gonski funding model’s recommendations provide “a fair and visionary approach” to supporting students, regardless of their circumstances, to achieve to their potential.
“Gonski provides a once in a generation opportunity to make a difference for all learners, particularly primary students, that cannot afford to be missed,” she said.
The report – released by the Centre for Policy Development on June 1 – shows that the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged student outcomes is widening.
Between 2009 and 2014, Commonwealth expenditure on all schools rose from $2,846 to $3,828 per student, a 34.5% increase. This is considerably higher than the 11.7% increase in state and territory expenditure per student in all sectors over the same period.
The report also found that the class divide in Australia is wider than the OECD average, in addition to countries such as Canada and Hong Kong.
The study’s authors, Chris Bonnor and Bernie Shepherd, said current government policies and funding arrangements were unsustainable, and called for four recommendations to be implemented.
  • Revitalise Gonski and create a National Schools Resourcing Body to drive implementation of a Schools Resourcing Standard.
  • Level the playing field for schools and students through committing to full Gonski funding, or rebalancing the existing funding mix.
  • Restore the ‘local school’ by focusing on maximising opportunities for all children to enrol and succeed in their most accessible local school.
  • Reduce the impact of disadvantage on students by progressively reducing schools’ incentives to aggregate advantage.
“It seems it is time for someone to join the dots and address some questions which are beyond the capacity of My School data to answer,” the report stated.

“There is always the need for evidence-based reform. What we don’t need is time, energy and money wasted on things that don’t make a sufficient difference.”