The NSW Secondary Principals’ Council (SPC) is the professional body representing Principals of government schools and colleges in NSW that have secondary school enrolments. The Council works closely with senior officials from the NSW Department of Education and the NSW Education Minister and provides advice on matters relating to public secondary education in NSW.
Australia’s declining international performance following the release of the 2015 PISA results indicates the urgent need for the full implementation of needs-based school funding. NSW Secondary Principals’ Council President, Chris Presland, said the results highlighted concerns about equity and resource allocation in education:
“The Australian public have every right to be angry about these results because this is exactly what the Gonski review of school funding said would happen. The Gonski Report concluded that investing as early as possible in high quality education for all students presented a cost-efficient strategy that would have the greatest impact on improving overall performance. What we have seen from the PISA results is that while our top students are still preforming well, the gap is widening significantly between the highest SES quartile and the lowest. If this trend is going to change, the Federal Government must accept that additional resources targeted to schools and students with the greatest needs really makes a difference. What we are talking about here is a model which promotes excellence and equity in education and I think that is something all Australians want for future generations.”
Mr. Presland suggested this was also a timely reminder for the Federal Government to commit to needs-based funding until 2019 and provide certainty and stability to schools:
“What we see from PISA is that globally the most successful education systems ensure the highest quality resources are available where it will make the greatest difference to students. We are already seeing the impact of Gonski reforms in lifting Year 12 completion rates, however if we want the performance of our students to improve in international tests such as PISA, needs-based funding needs to be implemented. This model of school funding is the only comprehensive, evidence-based funding model which delivers long term funding stability. Having funding certainty will enable our schools to invest in programs and resources which enable every child to reach their potential.”
Mr Presland also believed the release of the PISA results was an opportunity to engage in a broader debate about performance inequality and the impact this has on educational outcomes:
“Implementing a fair and equitable education funding model is crucial to ensuring Australia’s long term economic and social prosperity. Australian public schools produce innovative, skilled and creative young people. However, one of the most concerning aspects of the PISA results is the fact that while Australia is considered to be a high-performing country, the impact of student background on educational outcomes is stronger in Australia than in other OECD countries. I think the PISA results are a warning that we need to take action to ensure all Australian children have access to high quality educational resources and programs. Needs-based funding will enable Australia to continue to be a high-performing country by fostering an equitable education system which produces knowledgeable and adaptable students ready to engage in the world around us.”
President, NSW Secondary Principals’ Council