Malcolm Turnbull has appointed David Gonski to lead a new panel for achieving educational excellence, based on the findings that increasing school funding doesn’t produce better academic results. According to the businessman Mr Gonski, how the money is spent is more significant to achieving excellence in our education system.
Research from the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development shows that in high-income countries, such as Australia, where the money is spent is the central factor in boosting student outcomes. Mr Gonski’s role in this initiative will involve finding how to best spend this surplus money to reverse declining results and reform ineffective learning strategies.
The findings are due this December, but funding will continue to increase over the next decade, with education spending expected to nearly double by 2027.
Mr Turnbull said that this reform will ‘finally deliver on David Gonski’s vision’ after his review of Australian education funding six years ago. He stressed the importance of needs-based funding, which he believes Labor didn’t deliver, partly due to the 27 deals made in the process, which he said compromised the report’s principles for the sake of ‘political expediency’.
According to Mr Turnbull, the coalition’s cuts to the last two years of the Gonski budget will greatly disadvantage those in most need of the funding. Labor’s slashes to the program will cost school’s $3.8 billion.
The Business Council of Australia expressed their support for the reform. Business Council Chief executive, Jennifer Westacott, welcomed the ‘sustainable, needs-based funding model’.
Education Minister, Senator Birmingham, has not found support from the Australian Education Union (the group behind the ‘I Give a Gonski’ campaign). Plans to replace Labor’s funding agreements prompted criticism across Australia’s states and territories.
In 2016, results of a study conducted the previous year by the Program for International Student Assessment uncovered that Australian students had slid 12 months behind the 2003 maths standard. Similarly, Science results had fallen behind 7 months from the 2006 level, and reading ability had reverted back 10 months since 2000.
The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, which occurs every four years, revealed last year that Australian students in year 4 and 8 had been surpassed by students in Kazakhstan, Slovenia and Hungary. The new Gonski budget will attempt to amend these slips amongst Australian students, and ultimately improve education overall.