We have consistently acknowledged the commitment by the current NSW Premier and Minister to honour the principles of the ‘Gonski’ funding model and guarantee that this funding model will be implemented for the six years of the original agreement with the Commonwealth. We also commend the Government for actually doing as they promised and providing much-needed funds direct to our schools.
It is important that we and our communities realise that Gonski strongly advocated for fair, equitable and transparent recurrent funding based on student need, but also equally strongly made the case that our Public Schoolswere hugely under-funded in capital programs, school infrastructure and facilities, compared with non-government schools.
As leaders of our Public Schools, we know only too well that high quality teaching makes a big difference for students, but we also see on a daily basis that facilities, buildings and technology access are also vital to successful learning and teaching. Parents and community members also see the positive impact on their children of quality teaching and a quality school that is up-to-date and has well-equipped buildings and facilities.
In the lead-up to the State Election on the 28th March, on behalf of our 500 Principals, their students and school communities, the NSWSPC calls on all political parties to acknowledge the value to our State and our Nation of a strong, well-resourced Public Schooling System. The funding principles of ‘Gonski’ must be embedded for the foreseeable future both in the immediacy of need for capital expenditure in our Public Schools and recurrent needs-based funding via the NSW RAM methodology.
The Council commends the NSW Government for its recent announcements regarding new schools and facilities for our Public Schools. The first two new schools to be delivered from a $1 billion ‘Rebuilding NSW Schools Fund’, from the Infrastructure NSW report, will be built in Parramatta under the newly-announced ‘Innovative Education, Successful Students’ Policy. A Billion$ is a significant government investment in Public Education. The Policy, when fully implemented, will provide up to 1,600 new or refurbished classrooms and learning spaces throughout NSW State Schools– this is a good start to ensuring that our State has the best Public Schools in Australia. Population projections for school-aged children to 2031 show growth of 267,000, of which 65 per cent (or an expected 173,000 children) are expected to enter the Public Education system. Gonski and his panel strongly recommended that this inequity be immediately addressed. The Gonski principles of needs based funding and the report has been championed by NSW. In 2013 the NSW Government removed the requirement in the Education Act that funded non-government schools at 25% of government schools.
The Gonski report (eg pgs 90-99, Review of Funding for Schooling) details issues around Capital (I recommend you read it). For instance, “Even with additional government funding from the Building the Education Revolution National Partnership, only 49% of the total expenditure on school infrastructure was in government schools, a far lower percentage than the government sector’s enrolment share of 66%.” (pg 92).
Capital works funding for non-government schools sits at more than $97 million in combined State and Commonwealth Government funding each year. Currently NSW provides 56% of Government capital funding to the non-government sector. On a per capita basis, this is $243 per student. When private income is included, the non-government sector currently spends $618 per student, higher than the $524 per student spent in the government sector. Other funding comes from the Commonwealth and private sources. Capital funding is part of the over $1 billion the NSW Government will provide to non-government schools in 2015, including capital funding to the non-government sector through the Building Grant Assistance Scheme ($11m) and the Interest Subsidy Scheme ($43.6m).
The Infrastructure NSW Report through analysis and projections has considered the funding and resource recommendations therefore the NSW government announcement begins to redresses such inequity for public education.
Lila (Liliana) Mularczyk JP
President, NSW Secondary Principals’ Council