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Gonski 0.5

As the details of Malcolm Turnbull’s “new” announcement to “stop the arguments” about school funding emerge, it is worth revisiting how we got into this position.

On August 29, days before the 2013 election, Christopher Pyne said ”you can vote Liberal or Labor and you’ll get exactly the same amount of funding for your school”.

By November he was saying the Coalition would stick with the agreed arrangements for 2014 but would introduce a new funding model from 2015.

Mr Pyne declared the Gonski needs-based model a ‘‘shambles’’ and promised to go ‘‘back to the drawing board’’ to create a new system.

Apparently, the model is no longer a shambles but a blueprint for the future.

‘‘Our election policy was that we would support a four-year agreement … we won’t be honouring a six-year agreement,’’ Pyne said. ‘‘There’s no year five or year six in the Coalition’s funding agreement.’’

But now it’s a ten year funding agreement with the vast majority of the funding in the out-years – exactly what the Coalition blasted Labor for.

‘‘I think we’ve had a lot of talk, a lot of conferences, a lot of reports, a lot of analysis of those reports, we’ve had an election campaign, we’ve had election policies from both sides. It’s time for the government to be allowed to get on with the job and that’s exactly what I intend to do,’’ said Pyne.

So now we are to have another report by Gonski on how the extra money should be spent.

Except the “extra” money is about $22 billion less than Labor had budgeted for.

Oh and that federal Department of Education data showing that more than 150 private schools across Australia received funding above their Schooling Resourcing Standard in 2014, has, under intense negotiation with the Independent schools sector, magically reduced to 24 overfunded schools.

So the increase is actually a decrease, the budgetary burden (and benefit) won’t kick in for about five years, independent schools will continue to be overfunded, and we are going to have another Gonski report but it will be Turnbull’s, not Gillard’s.

And that seems to be the whole point of the exercise.


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  1. johnlord2013

    The smoke and mirrors says it all.

  2. Matters Not

    Interesting developments. Once again Ken Boston (KGB) will be the real brains behind any changes. That’s a good thing. That there’s a commitment to a needs based distribution of funding is also a very good outcome. But the devil will be in the detail.

    Already the Catholic Education sector is recruiting any number of suicide bombers to attack any LNP member who is silly enough to venture within a kilometre or two of a Catholic school.

    Niccolò Machiavelli recognised the problem.

    It ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new .

    This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them.”

    That it will take 10 years for some schools to reach this new, (lower) resource standards will be cold comfort to those parents who will now know and recognise that their child is being disadvantaged but also recognise that their child will have left school before its addressed.

    Good luck with that.

    And that’s only the beginning of the problem(s). The fight has just begun.

  3. jim

    Good post again Kaye, well I was pissed off that Miss Gillard stepped down from politics and thought how could she leave us all now with the rabble we now have the LNP, what on earth could be more important than fighting for us Australians? what would she do? Ah miss Gillard has gone to educate children which now IMO, is the most important thing that anyone could do ever!.
    But alas we have the RWNJs (liberals) at the wheel and it seems to me that the LNP don’t think education important at all.

  4. Kaye Lee

    Mr Pyne said he was too busy to meet the expert panel that devised the so-called Gonski school funding model to discuss how it worked before he discarded it.

    So NOW we want to talk to them. I can only imagine what Katherine Greiner is saying.

    Birmingham is trying to say he inherited a muddle of a system – that’s because Coalition governments had insisted that the socioeconomic status model should be used. Greiner described it as ‘‘very broken’’. ‘‘It was opaque, it was not transparent, it was confusing. It was, in fact, a beggar’s muddle,’’

  5. Matters Not

    It’s well recognised that Turnbull at al don’t like ‘collective action’ of any kind. (Here read Unions.) It would seem from early reports that they are attempting to sideline Catholic Education Offices (collectives) and deal directly with schools. That’s courageous as well.

    Make no mistake Catholic Education Offices (CEOs) are well practised in the art of politics and they have enormous energy. Rudd/Gillard promised no school would get less which was very bad policy but because Rudd experienced the power wielded by the CEO in Queensland – he deemed it necessary politics. Then there was the Latham experience – from which he never recovered.

    Dear oh dear – I can see a further slide in popularity or perhaps a backflip?

    While I don’t know the 24 schools who will receive a funding cut (there should be many, many more) it’s pretty safe to assume they will be in electorates with big margins. But it’s the base under attack again. First super – now education. fantastic.

  6. billshaw2013

    The Turnbull view of Gonski and the introduction of Gonski 2.0 has nothing to do with education. It is all about the re-election of a Turnbull government and a reversal of bad polling figures.

  7. Matters Not

    Then there’s the reactions of State Treasuries to consider. When it comes to ‘cost’ shifting between State and Federal, there’s much money to be ‘gained’ or ‘lost’. Health is perhaps the best example here. If the Federal Government wants to implement a ‘resource standard’ across Australian Schools that it is responsible for, then it’s in the interest of any State Treasury to have as low expenditure as possible in the education sector so that the future burden will fall on the Feds.

    Thus I fear Education will suffer reduced funds in the coming round of State Budgets. That’s how the game is played. Boston knows it only too well so it will be interesting to see how that is handled. Are we to see uniform class sizes, access to specialists and so on.

  8. helvityni

    Spot on, billshaw 2013, next they will talk enthusiastically about renewable energy, about CC, maybe the pensioners will get a two-dollar increase, and we will have fast Chinese/European style fast trains…It’s time.

  9. Kaye Lee

    “funds provided to all Catholic and independent schools in Canberra to be reduced over the next decade.”

    nine ACT schools received more than 100 per cent of total public funding according to the current school resourcing standard:

    Brindabella Christian College (159.4 per cent)
    Burgmann Anglican School (166.5 per cent)
    Canberra Girls’ Grammar School (150.8 per cent)
    Canberra Grammar School (140.15 per cent)
    Orana Steiner School (144.31 per cent)
    Daramalan College (192.97 per cent)
    Emmaus Christian School (128.7 per cent)
    Radford College (203 per cent)
    Marist College (177.9 per cent)

    After all, it isn’t the politicians who live in Canberra – just those pesky public servants who will all be moving to Galaginbone soon anyway.

    I agree Turnbull will have a fight on his hands with the Catholics – what I am hearing is a promise to “help them transition” which probably means no cuts any time soon.

    In 2011, public schools educated 80% of all students with disabilities and 80% of all indigenous students.

  10. Matters Not

    At the bottom of your link:

    According to the Productivity Commission, the ACT government cut school funding by 4.8 per cent between 2010 and 2015 while the Commonwealth’s contribution rose 17.1 per cent

    Much more fiddling to come.

  11. Kaye Lee

    I thought Labor locked in state funding commitments as part of their deal. They also had some sort of performance appraisal for continued funding (though that was never well explained), all of which got chucked out.

    I predict talented Indigenous athletes will be in high demand for private scholarships to bump up the disadvantage ratio.

  12. Matters Not

    Boston in full flight.

    In a scathing speech on Tuesday, Gonski Review panellist Ken Boston said the school funding system that has developed over the past 40 years has “comprehensively failed” and needs to be overhauled.

    We are on a path to nowhere,” Mr Boston, a former director general of the NSW Department of Education, said.

    “The issue is profoundly deeper than argument about the last two years of Gonski funding or changes to the governance of Commonwealth-state relations. But both the government and the opposition are fluffing around at the margins of the issue, and neither appears to understand the magnitude of the reform that is needed or – if so – to have the capacity to tackle it.

    “Neither side of politics has come to grips with what needs-based funding really means.”

    But Boston has a problem. He has already seen his first attempt go under the political bus because is was too ambitious perhaps? Does he remain committed or does he curtail his ambitions. Already he’s under attack from Kevin Donnelly both in The Australian and on the radio with Steve Price. Donnelly was the person appointed by Pyne to ‘review’ the National curriculum.

  13. Kaye Lee

    Donnelly was chief of staff to Kevin Andrews. That should tell you something. He has “a commitment to Christian beliefs and values.”

    “In recent years several education groups have sought to introduce gay, lesbian and transgender studies in the classroom and to convince schoolchildren that such practices, along with being heterosexual, are simply lifestyle choices open to all.”

    “Multiculturalism is based on the mistaken belief that all cultures are of equal worth and that it is unfair to discriminate and argue that some practices are wrong.”

    “The Americans say that a curriculum like ours is a mile wide and an inch deep. We try and do too much. We should be focusing on the basics, especially in the early years of primary school,”

    He said he had no problem with the use of corporal punishment in schools if it is supported by the local community. The threat of physical punishment was ”very effective” when he was a student, Dr Donnelly said.

  14. Matters Not

    Indigenous athletes will be in high demand for private scholarships to bump up the disadvantage ratio.

    That helps but there’s better and easier ways. Many of the wealthier landowners (sheep and cattle) actually reside in the cities in high SES locations. But they also can identify as living in remote locations. In areas with low SES, brought about by high numbers of indigenous people. A simple and technical ‘change of home address’ lowers the SES of their child’s boarding school while raising the SES of the school in their new home address. All to do with The Census Collection District (CD).

    Mucking around with the CD needs a bit of inside knowledge. But it happens.

    KL, Donnelly is often brought in (bought in as well) when there’s a change of government at the State level. A player in the Liberal Party as well. He is ‘known’. Been around for years. And with some strange ideas. Denies decades of research.

  15. Kaye Lee

    Yes. Yet people like NSW Education Minister Andrew Piccoli, who everyone in the education system seemed to admire despite their political leaning, gets dumped to reward a factional buddy.

  16. Matters Not

    Andrew Piccoli was good. Had regard for disadvantage but he wasn’t from the ‘Liberal Party. A Nat! Too effective. Too outspoken. Had to go! And he did with the rise of the new Premier.

  17. Miriam English

    He said he had no problem with the use of corporal punishment in schools if it is supported by the local community. The threat of physical punishment was “very effective” when he was a student, Dr Donnelly said.

    Yeah, it seems to have helped make him such a shining gem of a human being.

  18. Matters Not

    More from Boston – revealed in his address to the QTU State Conference after the initial Gonski Report and its butchered implementation by Shorten:

    Further, there is no evidence that the Labor opposition has learned from the mistakes it made in government in the long winter of 21 months between December 2011 when we submitted our report and the election in September 2013.
    • It set aside what the Gonski panel regarded as an essential recommendation: to establish a national schools resourcing body, similar to a schools commission, responsible to all education ministers, to determine in a nationally consistent way the school resourcing standard, the minimum public contribution, the loadings and the indexation factor.

    •Instead, the Labor government sought to negotiate those matters unilaterally and separately with the state authorities, non-government school organisations, church leaders and unions – after we had consulted with them all for more than 18 months – thus repeating the pattern of the past 40 years.
    •It set aside the recommendations on disabilities funding and the coordination of capital works funding across states and territories.
    •It announced that the required funding would come from tertiary education.
    •And in the final few weeks of government, it touted Gonski around the country in an unholy scramble to entice states to sign up to deals in which the fundamental principles were entirely secondary.

    … .If we lose Gonski, we will lose public education. We will lose what everyone in this room has worked for and valued. The purpose of education will be to sort the wheat from the chaff. Generations of children will continue to be lost. Australia will be diminished.

    I compliment each of you individually, and the Queensland Teachers Union, and the AEU, on having nailed your colours so clearly to the mast

    A bit dated but one hopes he has not forgotten.

    (Miriam I tend to go easier on Kevin these days after he lost his son in tragic circumstances.)

  19. vivienne29

    Good work Kaye, as always. You nailed it.

  20. Matters Not

    One wonders what Abbott’s reaction will be to ‘cuts’ for Catholic schools? Andrews? Abetz?

    Who will be the first journalist to ask? A ‘scoop’ in the making. With Fairfax on strike, the potential field is reduced. Perhaps Hadley on Monday?

  21. helvityni

    Isn’t Turnbull too Catholic ? Or was it just to please Lucy that he converted to her faith, a bit like one day a Republican, another a Monarchist…
    A climate change convert one season , the next a supporter of coal mines… No convictions, blowing in the wind…

  22. Matters Not

    Yes Turnbull is a Catholic for political convenience at a number of levels, including the personal A Johnny-come-lately. Not like Abbott who is born and bred. A true blue. Even had Pell as a ‘confessor’ – not that there was any great need.

    There’s first class and then there’s second class. Turnbull is just on the first rung.

  23. wam

    This week the federal government has announced more achievements than Donald did at his first 100 days rally.
    Unfortunately for both: “self praise is no recommendation”.
    Who remembers the rabbott’s promise? No cuts to education, health or pensions and a month later the pynenut’s snide remark “Gonski’s gone”???
    Well it looks like Gonski wasn’t actually gone? Probably, because the rabbott didn’t intone his “dead and buried” routine!
    However the labor agreement with the states was denounced by the gang of four(the rabbott, hockey, pyne and joyce), purged, given a dunce’s hat and sent to a ” labour” camp for rehabilitation.
    It has returned as Gonski 2 and with, judicious political bribery to the loonie greens, may get through the senate with but a few private school and catholic amendments.
    Does anyone think that small indoctrinating church schools, in poor areas, who don’t charge adequate fees, deserve public cash? (Why are the rich church schools not sharing their wealth?)
    A quick check of my town shows the proliferation of the indoctrinators. Every catholic church has a school many students pay LESS in fees than the public primary school,
    I drive Darwin Adelaide yarrawonga 2/3 times a year and have done so since before the cyclone. Nearly every town on the various routes has a catholic primary.
    The rabbott, little billy. old tomato head and the pynenut are jesuit educated. Albo. cormann are catholic educated nd trumble, like blair, is a convert. With that base it is unlikely the church will be asked to pay???
    ps any of the diludbransims catholic??

  24. Matters Not

    wam re:

    Why are the rich church schools not sharing their wealth?)

    Because they don’t have to by law and because they can distance themselves from such (moral) discussions by choosing to remain outside the umbrella and forums of the relevant Catholic Education Offices. You see – sometimes it’s great to belong to a ‘co-operative’ when collective action is being exerted – but at other times it’s best to be ‘independent’ when the spoils are there for the taking.

    That’s the reality. It’s an idea that can be extrapolated to understanding membership (or not) of Unions as well.

  25. Kaye Lee

    Sydney Archdiocese business manager Danny Casey told the commission on Tuesday that the church’s funds, worth $1.24 billion, included extensive property holdings and cash and were ultimately controlled by the archbishop.

    Mr Casey said the archdiocese had grown its assets by 86 per cent in the 13 years since 2001, which is when Cardinal George Pell became archbishop.

    The royal commission into child sex abuse heard the archdiocese banked surpluses of between $7.7 million and $44 million between 2004 and 2007.

    And this is JUST the Sydney archdiocese.

  26. Max Gross

    Pea, thimble, lubricant, bend over you irrelevant plebs… Pure LNP!

  27. nurses1968

    So now the Greens are going to give Turnbull the numbers to cut education funding
    Greens likely to support ‘Gonski 2.0’
    Greens leader Richard Di Natalie has confirmed he is open to having a conversation with the federal government about its proposed new funding arrangements for schools.

    Left of Labor‏ @Left_of_Labor

    The #Greens have indicated once again that they will help pass the #Liberal’s cuts to education through the Senate.


  28. Kaye Lee

    Di Natalie said “he is happy to see wealthier schools get less so state schools can get more.”

    Does he realise that the Coalition has abandoned the year 5 and 6 Gonski funding and so the states will be getting substantially less than the signed agreement provisioned for?

    I do think parts of the proposal are a good idea too (The Kings School doesn’t really need a tenth football field) but it nevertheless represents a huge budget cut to education overall which must impact on future state school funding as well.

  29. Miriam English

    nurses1968, you should know not to get your inflammatory news from Murdoch. He desperately wants the progressive parties to fight among each other. Check out what the Greens really want.

    Sarah Hanson-Young said two days ago:

    Schools funding in Australia needs to be reformed to reflect a genuine needs based model, but that can’t be done by cutting funding across the country, the Australian Greens have said in response to today’s announcement from the government.

    “We’ll look at the detail of this announcement, but what we know is that Australia’s school funding system is broken,” the Greens’ education spokesperson, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.

    “It’s time our children’s education was prioritised in Australia. It’s a sad reality that many of our kids are being left behind.

    “What we need is a properly funded, transparent and fair education system that supports high quality teachers and gets results. Simply funnelling billions of dollars into a broken model won’t achieve that.

    “Genuine needs based funding is essential and, yes, that means wealthy private schools have to take a haircut. Giving millions of dollars to a wealthy private school so that they can build yet another swimming pool doesn’t do any good for the children who need the most support.

    “We have to fund our schools properly and fairly because every child deserves a good education, no matter what their postcode is or how rich their parents are.

    “The current funding model is flawed, but making cuts to our schools should never be used as a budget savings measure.

    “We’re up for the hard work of fixing our education system. Our kids are being left behind and it’s time us pollies got on and fixed it for good.”

  30. Freethinker

    Kaye, allow me to use your article to talk about the Greens, NSW Greens and Lee Rhiannon.
    It is common knowledge that the Greens NSW branch and Lee Rhiannon were opposed to weak the original Gonski and also was the party policy before the previous elections.
    With the purpose to inform interested readers in this issue I like to quote two links:

    From the Australian Greens oficial page:
    “Friday, January 15, 2016
    Full funding for all six years of the Gonski reforms is critical to ensure better educational outcomes for all students, Greens spokesperson for schools Senator Nick McKim says.
    “The Gonski package is based on the fairest way to distribute resources on the basis of need, so that Australian children can have the best possible education, regardless of their background,” Senator McKim said.
    “Given two thirds of the funding come through in years five and six of the agreements, the government must not attempt to weasel out of the Gonski reforms.
    “Walking away from Gonski is not just a broken election promise, it is a slap in the face to thousands of students, parents and teachers.
    “That Education Minister Simon Birmingham cynically announced this during the Christmas period, rather than being upfront with the Australian people, shows how ashamed the government is of its disgraceful record on school funding.”
    End of Quote

    From Tasmanian Times:
    Greens call for legislative agenda for full Gonski, no half a Gonski
    Greens Leader Senator Christine Milne
    15.04.13 3:16 pm

    With only three full weeks of parliamentary sitting before the election, the Government needs to commit to a legislative agenda to guarantee the full Gonski school reforms, the Australian Greens said today.

    “When is the Gillard Government going to legislate the full Gonski school funding reforms?” Greens Leader Senator Christine Milne said today.

    “We need a clear commitment from the Government that we will legislate Gonski before the election, not a transitional or half Gonski reform. We only have three full sitting weeks left – when will this reform go through the Federal Parliament?

    “This reform is too critical to play politics with – our schools are in desperate need of adequate funding.

    “It is ludicrous the Gillard Government will pay more in fossil fuel subsidies in the next six years than it will pay for school funding.

    “It is wrong to rob Peter to pay Paul by cutting funding to universities to fund schools.

    “This is a direct result of the Government’s failure to fix the mining tax, which could have contributed so much to our ailing education system.

    “The Government needs to stop cutting funding where it hurts, and start getting serious about spreading the benefits of the resources boom, and transitioning away from a dig it up, cut it down, and ship it away economy, to a diverse, knowledge based, clean, green and clever economy.

    “Tony Abbott and Christopher Pyne also need to come clean on why they do not support a fair go for all and why they are prepared to let public schools crumble even further.

    “Education is the best way to overcome disadvantage and create a strong and resilient community and economy.

    “We cannot expect to remain competitive in the Asian Century unless we offer students the best schooling and university qualifications needed to drive a skilled, knowledge-based economy.”
    End of Quote

    It is clear to me that the Greens with exception of Lee and the NSW branch are broken their promise

  31. Matters Not

    Freethinker, the Gonski original ‘recommendations’ are no more. Abandoned, first by Labor and now by all and sundry.

    The ‘debate’ has moved on. The Gonski agenda is now the plaything of the LNP – free to ‘define’ it as they will.

  32. Miriam English

    I’ve often wondered if the real reason conservatives seem universally opposed to public education is less to do with ideology or saving money, and more to do with an uneducated population tending to vote conservative because they are more easily manipulated by propaganda and more easily swindled by fake “anti-elitism” when spouted by authoritarians. Paradoxically, those authoritarians are generally true elitists who want to maintain an impregnable ruling class and a large, pool of poor (the poorer the better).

    Note that conservative politicians (who are generally wealthy and despise poor people) refer to the Greens as latte-drinking snobs, when the Greens’ policies are actually intended to help the poorest in society. Those kinds of lies survive best in an uneducated population.

    How do we explain idiots like Pauline Hanson? She has been duped by her naked desire for wealth and power into chasing after the gravy train. The conservatives will let her rally more of the poor to the conservative agenda, distracted and stampeded by racism and fear, then they will crush her when they feel they no longer need her (as they did before).

  33. Freethinker

    Matters Not, the official position by the Greens in 4-2016 was Full Gonski, I do not accept broken promises,I have enough with the government to tolerate the Greens

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