Schools funding debate

The Coalition Government has defended its education amendment bill, following concerns by the Australian Education Union funding for Gippsland did not meet the original Gonski agreements made by the Gillard Government.

Australian Education Union Victorian branch president Meredith Peace said there was a funding discrepancy of $15.2 million for Gippsland schools.

“We absolutely see this as a cut. Schools desperately want funding certainty,” Ms Peace said.

“For regional and rural Victorian students, this is a really important point. Kids in the country are at least two to three years behind kids in the city…. in terms of their standards of achievement and measures of literacy and numeracy.

“It is important that country students get equal opportunity.”

Infrastructure and Transport Minister Darren Chester defended his government’s Australian Education Amendment Bill in the House of Representatives on Thursday, stating it would improve the way schools were funded.

“Claiming there is a cut is a bit like going to your boss and saying, ‘Boss, I want a $100 pay rise’ and your boss saying, ‘I can’t afford $100 but I will give you a $75 pay rise’. So you actually had a pay rise but you claim it as a cut,” Mr Chester told Parliament.

“Not only will there be no cuts to education funding but this funding is locked into the budget,” he said.

“I encourage all parents to hear from both sides of the debate, listen to the details and avail themselves of all the facts. From that point on, we can have a well-informed opinion on these reforms that will deliver record funding for all schools in my electorate and provide a real needs-based funding model to the students who need it most,” he said.

In a statement to Parliament, Education and Training Minister Simon Birmingham said the online estimator showed schools across Gippsland would benefit from a boost of $68.3 million in Gonski needs-based funding between 2017 and 2023.