Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has declared he will “bring the school funding wars to an end” in a stunning policy turnaround that will see the federal government pump an extra $19 billion into schools over the next decade.
At a surprise press conference flanked by businessman David Gonski, who conducted a landmark review of school funding for the Gillard government, Mr Turnbull said he would succeed where Labor failed by delivering a genuine needs-based funding model.
Mr Gonski will conduct a new review for the government – dubbed “Gonski 2.0” by Mr Turnbull – on how the extra money can best be spent to ensure it boosts student performance and school results.
Next Tuesday’s budget will include an extra $2.2 billion extra for schools over the next four years on top of the $1.2 billion announced in last year’s budget.
Funding for public schools will grow by 94 per cent, or $6.4 billion, over the decade while Catholic and private school funding will rise by 62 per cent or $6.7 billion.
The government’s own briefing documents state the government is still spending $22 billion less over a decade than Labor promised schools at the last election.
Although funding is growing strongly overall, the new policy will involve a substantial shuffling of funds between the states and different school sectors.
As foreshadowed by Fairfax Media earlier this year, the government will change the funding formula so schools transition more quickly to their appropriate Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) – the level of funding deemed necessary by the Gonski Review.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull talks to media during a press conference on Tuesday. Photo: Daniel Munoz
All schools will now reach their appropriate funding level within a decade, according to the government.
Education Minister Simon Birmingham said 24 schools in the nation’s highest socioeconomic areas will see their funding drop next year. This represents a break from Julia Gillard’s promise that no school would lose a dollar under any funding changes.
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The government at this stage is refusing to identify which schools will have their funding cut.
A further 353 schools will be worse off over time as they transition to their appropriate resourcing standard over the next decade.
School funding has been a fraught political issue for many years. Photo: Arsineh Houspian
Funding for NSW public schools will grow by 4.9 per cent over the next four years, 3.8 per cent for Catholic schools and 3.9 per cent for private schools.
Funding for public schools in Victoria will grow by 5.4 per cent over the same period, 3.5 per cent for Catholic schools and 4.3 per cent for private schools.
Private and Catholic schools in the ACT will have minor overall funding reductions over the next four years and the next decade.
“This investment will set Australian children on the path to academic excellence and success in their future lives,” Mr Turnbull said.
“It will deliver real needs-based funding for children from all backgrounds in every town and every city and every region and every state – in every classroom of our great nation.
“This reform will finally deliver on David Gonski’s vision six years ago after his landmark review of Australian school education.”
Senator Birmingham said the announcement would end the “Twenty-seven different school funding agreements that our government inherited that were largely based on ancient sweetheart deals”.