Teachers are going to step up pressure on the federal government as it finalises a new school funding deal with the states and territories.
The Australian Education Union is using the success stories of 24 schools around the country to highlight the importance of increased funding to students in disadvantaged areas.
It will renew its “I give a Gonski” campaign, with new ads targeting what it says is a failure to support under-resourced schools.
Education Minister Simon Birmingham is in the final throes of negotiations on a new funding agreement, with the deal expected to be signed by leaders in April.
He wants the states to agree to a range of measures including higher standards for new teachers and tests for Year 1 students in exchange for commonwealth funding increases.
But the union has slammed the government’s refusal to proceed with the large increases in 2018 and 2019 that were part of the six-year Gonski deal.
“Malcolm Turnbull’s plan to implement a new funding system is in chaos,” union federal president Correna Haythorpe said on Friday.
“States and territories won’t back it and the Catholic school peak body has said there is not enough time to implement a new funding system before the end of this year.”
Every student at Cowandilla Primary School in Adelaide – one of the examples in the union’s 2017 Getting Results report – has improved since it received extra money for specialist numeracy and literacy programs.
But principal Julie Hayes says that could not have happened in a resource-free vacuum.
If the boost in money continues, her school could help its large numbers of disadvantaged students access computers and other technology they didn’t have at home.
“Principals at disadvantaged schools are always keen to make sure they’re able to level the playing field by providing these things at school cost,” she says.
“So, if we had significant money it would help support that – a new way of learning.”
Opposition education spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek says the debate around school funding neglects the tools teachers need.
Too often teachers are blamed for all the problems with schools and student achievement.
“We must end the teacher blame game, and actually focus on what matters for schools, teachers and kids,” she will tell AEU’s annual conference in Melbourne on Friday.
“We know funding matters. Other things matter, too, but we can’t deliver those things unless we properly fund our schools.”