$1.2 billion more for schools

Today the Federal Government has announced $1.2 billion in new funding for schools

$1.2 billion more for schools
Image credit: Shutterstock

Last week the Coalition Government described the so-called ‘Gonski’ system of school funding as “unimplementable” and “a shambles”. Today it has announced that $1.2 billion in new funding has been found for the education portfolio, and that the Labor original schools funding plan will be restored, with a few changes.

The four year national funding model is back in place. However, the ‘changes’ announced include removing the requirement of matched funding from state governments. Where the original Gonski model included state governments matching national funding dollar-for-dollar, the new $1.2 billion will not require the three recipients to make any new financial commitments.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said of the changes, “We don’t want to try to run public schools out of Canberra, and that was the problem with the original deal that the former government did… I suspect that New South Wales and Victoria will be happy to lose the Canberra command and control elements of those deals.”

Not all states will be exempt from providing extra funding. The $1.2 billion is only being offered to the states and territory which had not previously signed up to the Gonski reforms, and are therefore part of the ‘new’ agreement. The new funding will allow Queensland, Western Australian and the Northern Territory to participate in the schools funding scheme without a co-funding commitment from their state governments.

Education Minister Christopher Pyne is taking much of the credit for the new funding model. He explained to the ABC’s 7:30 program, “I’ve just spent the last 11 weeks trying to sort through the mess that Bill Shorten left me as the Education Minister.”

“What I’ve managed to achieve is to get every state and territory in a national model, which Bill Shorten never achieved, and [return] $1.2 billion extra in spending on students that Bill Shorten ripped out in the pre-election financial outlook.”

The $1.2 billion in Mr Pyne’s statement refers to funds which were not allocated due to the jurisdictions, QLD, WA and NT, all led by conservative governments, not signing up for the Gonski model.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten has asked the Abbott Government to guarantee that no school will be worse off under the Government’s plan than it would have been under Labor. “Can the Abbott Government keep its election promise that no school will be worse off? No Australian is any clearer as to whether or not the Abbott Government intends to fix up its election promise.”

Find out more at the ABC News website

Opinion: Where is the money coming from?

First we were getting a schools funding model co-funded by state and federal governments. Then we weren’t getting anything at all, and it was “back to the drawing-board” (Christopher Pyne last week). Now, not only are we getting schools funding, but the Federal Government has found $1.2 billion and is paying for the lot. It’s a political rollercoaster. And where was that $1.2 billion hiding before now? How does one just happen to ‘find’ that kind of money? The Federal Government has promised to reveal all, but not until next July.

Even with all the backflipping, I do applaud this change of heart from the Abbott Government. Changing your mind is difficult to do when you’re in power, with the nation’s eyes watching and judging your performance. But education is such an important issue to so many that I think Mr Abbott and Mr Pyne did the right thing by not letting personal pride get in the way of supporting a new education funding model.

But I do have to wonder at the way they went about it. Last week the big news was the Abbott Government requesting a massive increase to Australia’s debt ceiling because we simply don’t have enough available funds. This week it has actively chosen not to ask states to co-fund the new model. Instead the ostensibly strapped-for-cash Federal Government will be footing the bill. So where is it coming from? Which group is most likely to miss out on funding increases, or to have funds cut to make up this $1.2 billion?

There have already been noises made about changes to superannuation and lifting the pension age which could harm Australia’s over 50s population. Debbie explains these possible changes here. With no dedicated minister for ageing in the new Abbott Government, do Australia’s pensioners have a voice in the Federal Government to protect them from becoming the victims of funding cuts?

What do you think? Should education be our top priority? Is the Federal Government right to let state governments off the hook, or should some of that $1.2 billion be used to fund other groups, for example, an increase to the Age Pension?


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    3rd Dec 2013
    it wasn't funded under Labor. It has to be funded because of election commitments but the Gonski scheme was always flawed and even Labor was accepting it only in part. It's an unabashed attempt to take over State responsibilities and that removes the incentive for States to search for improvements in education. It's a vexed question because we want all Australians to be educated to the best standard possible and for kids to be able to move interstate without suffering the consequences of changing systems. If we are going to remove State responsibilities then let's remove State Governments and save some money.
    3rd Dec 2013
    Aloysius, the "scheme" that the former government implemented with those staes that did sign up, two of which, the biggest, being Coalition lead states, was not a "scheme' it was a "reform", the Gonski reform package.
    The principle objective of that reform was to enshrine into the agreement that ALL pupils in ALL schools would get equal treatment with "loadings' attached to the most needy and the disabled. And, as there would be billions of taxpayer dollars put into the agreements, $2 from the taxpayer for every $1 from the states, the Federal government wanted certain "oversight" provisions to ensure that the taxpayer dollars were not misuesd as they had practically ALWAYS had been by previous state governments. That's not too much to ask, and nor can it reasonably be called a "control".
    Yet, the new government told the electorate prior to the last election that they would go along with the Gonski Reform package and that their policy would be identical to that of the then government.
    What they have now done, is to throw out the REFORM part of the package, THE MOST IMPORTANT part of the package, which took years of negotiation with dozens of contributors, and simply provide the states with a "budget allocation for education" with absolutely NO strings attached and absolutely no safeguards that the states would even spend it on education, let alone implement the reforms!!
    hey have simply lied to the electorate and are now trying to con their way out of it with weasel words in which they seem to have an excellent skill!!
    And today's question time exposed ANOTHER Coalition dud, the Speaker, Bronwyn Bishop, despite nemerous questions about the NEW education (certainly NOT the one that they promised at the election) and despite every answer being irrelevant to the question, not once did the Speaker acknowledge and approve points of order raised by the Opposition. Now, the Speaker is supposed to be impartial, yet, she is so "impartial" that she still attends caucus meetings???!!

    Why has the Murdoch press dismissed this to the minor pages of their newspapers?? Am certain that it would have been THE headline front page story for the past week if Labor had lied and broken election promises as this Abbott government is so blatantly doing.
    And did anyone compare the "performances" of Tony Abbott and malcolm Turnbull in answering questions. The Prime Minister is STILL calling opposition ministers names, school yard rubbish, compared to the witty and statesman like presentation by Malcolm Turnbull.
    And as for Christopher Pyne!!!!!
    3rd Dec 2013
    Well put Grateful:

    On another different forum an amalgamation of comments from a few contributors wrote:

    1. "Gonski was designed to replace a system that had failed. A system that had money being thrown in an "unbalanced way". Pyne is looking like a fool, it is not about "equitable distribution", it is about re-funding educational standards where they are currently lacking. That should be the goal. The reactionary attack dog is now floundering".

    2. "The recommendation of the Gonski Review was for an agreement between federal and state governments to increase funding for schools to ensure smaller classes, more specialised teachers, more support for children with disabilities and learning problems and additional training and classroom support for teachers.
    In his first act as Education Minister, Christopher Pyne has effectively announced that the Gonski reforms will be scrapped. Apparently the man who has spent the last FIVE YEARS clowning around in parliament until he is thrown out for being a distraction is better placed than A YEAR LONG REVIEW WITH OVER 7,000 SUBMISSIONS AND INPUT FROM 71 NATIONAL EDUCATION GROUPS to decide what is best for the future of education in Australia. With this man in charge of Education, Morrison sending unaccompanied children to its privately run prison camps in the Pacific and Abbott leaping to the defence of the Catholic Church in the wake of one of the most damning inquiries into child abuse by the clergy undertaken, it is hard to think of a LESS CHILD FRIENDLY GOVERNMENT."

    3. "NSW's Education Minister, Piccoli, should be respected for his comments. He seems to actually care about his schools and kids. Reforms he has brought in are working and he has a plan the Unions can't pick holes in."

    4. "Pyne has no class; Pyne is driven, i.e. monetary driven into the pockets of private enterprise. The way this government is acting they want to carve up Australia for their mates. I don't think they actually care if they get more than one term. Just winning government appears to be their only goal."

    5. "Christopher Pyne was appointed Shadow Minister for Education in September 2008. In the whole five years in Opposition in Parliament he held that position. In that time he produced NO EDUCATION POLICIES, ASKED THREE QUESTIONS IN PARLIAMENT (NONE RELATED TO EDUCATION) AND WAS EXPELLED FROM PARLIAMENT 26 TIMES FOR UNRULY CONDUCT (there is a picture of him hilariously poking his tongue out at acting Speaker, Anna Burke on one occasion).

    6. "During the same time the government undertook the Gonski Review, the most comprehensive review in 40 years, the purpose of which was to address declining "overall" student performance, the growing performance gap between schools, the complexity of current school funding arrangements and dealing with the complexities of education funding between states and territories".

    The forum wasn't back-biting each other, just expressing opinions. Some pretty valid, I think.

    We are on a rocky road to nowhere at present in so many areas. Hopefully, once they all go home for Christmas and get some hugs and kisses from their families they will come back in 2014 with better dispositions, positive outcomes and less bickering. I note herewith that my Christmas Chicken probably has no "wishbone" and the pop group Status Quo who yells out "Whatever you Want, Whatever You Need...." etc. etc. will be maintained.
    4th Dec 2013
    Any Pyne is boasting that he has stiched up a "National" deal that Labor couldn't do. Of course the other states have signed up for his"deal' and not with the Labor requirements.
    Pyne's deal (which he in all "modesty" in Parliament yesterday would not accept that "credit" and called it "the Abbott, no the Coalition", deal) does not require ANY accountability, it is a blank cheque which those states have naturally grabbed with both hands and will probably be spent on roads.
    They did not sign up with the Labor deal because they had to COMPLY with agreed NATIONAL standards, REFORMS of a failed system!!
    4th Dec 2013
    Well said Grateful. The most important element of 'Gonski' is reform, as you rightly point out.
    3rd Dec 2013
    Where is the $1.2 BILLION coming from you ask?
    Straight from the horse's mouth and make of it what you wish.

    The $1.2 billion will be found from within the education portfolio. Parents, teachers, and students will not be caused particular difficulties by the savings, according to Abbott. We’ll find out in the mid-year budget forecasts who will feel the pain!!!!!!!!
    3rd Dec 2013
    If the parents, teachers and students won't be caused "particular difficulties???" maybe the one who deserves to suffer some "particular difficulty" should be the one and only Christopher Pyne, who's incompetence and arrogance caused the BACK DOWN and a near political catastrophe, which is FAR from "resolved."

    I am finding it more difficult by the day to see ANY ONE member of the front bench of this government showing anything like skill and competence, as many of us feared before the election. Some are downright awful and how much are we paying them???? Please put someone there that we can respect.
    3rd Dec 2013
    Every time I see Christopher Pyne I cringe. I call him Christopher Pain , in the you know what. He is very arrogant and carries on like a spoilt brat, I don't know how he got into parliament.
    3rd Dec 2013
    Hola, I must agree with your opinion of Payne but as to how he got into parliament, well he was carried in with the party to which he belongs. Bad mistake !
    4th Dec 2013
    Christopher Pyne the reactionary attack dog as quoted above. This is how a man acts in a position of high esteem, Education Minister(?) indeed!
    His education came from the private education system, says a lot for what came forth from its teachings. Just shows we don't need more of the same.
    I hope the teachers and educators of this country keep beating the drum to give the Gonski system a fair go. We definitely need change.
    3rd Dec 2013
    Here's someone else's opinion from The Age online.
    Quote by Patrick:
    "Gymnastics Australia" has added Abbott and Pyne to the team for the 2014 Rio Olympics. Apparently, they will be performing a move called the "Synchronised Gonski" which is some sort of double backwards summersault!"
    Tom Tank
    3rd Dec 2013
    We were led to believe that the last lot were the worst government in history but the current lot don't seem to know what day it is.
    They don't seem to have any idea about diplomacy, have a grandiose sense of their own importance and are behaving with breathtaking arrogance. There much vaunted economic credentials also look a bit shaky after this back flip on school funding.
    Lets hope they settle down soon and start being realistic about what we, the people, expect of a good government.
    3rd Dec 2013
    Tom, all "politics" aside, the new government has now been in power for nearly 3 months!! They were in opposition for over 6 years, yet, it does not seem that even one of them, Hockey included, should be in government. What have they been doing for that 6 years, just sitting back haw hawing at all the smart aleck ridicule of the then government??
    The boot is now on the other foot, yet, the new government doesn't seem to even have learnt how to kick, let alone govern.
    If the previous government was "the worst in Australia's history", I always go back to that very true statement that a government is only as good as its opposition. Appears that that truism has come back to haunt us.
    No "positive" policies and all the ones that they went to the election with have proven to be duds and up for public ridicule.
    Bring on Malcolm turnbull, at least he can speak fluently and has a MUCH better wardrobe than what is resembling that of a marionette whose strings are being pulled from the back office. And if you want to know who the "real" Prime Minisater is, take a look at the Weekend Australian and that picture of Tony Abbott with his media adviser AND his CHIEF of STAFF!!!!! Peta Credlin!!! She towers over Tony Abbott and you should see the looks on both of their faces, like the proverbial bloke who came home late from work with an opened pay packet!!!!!
    Classic, he may not be a mysoginist, but, he sure is petrified of Peta!!!
    3rd Dec 2013
    Yes TT, the mask has dropped revealing the ugly face. Bit different being in government, 3 word slogans won't do the job any more. The real agenda is rearing it's head ie look after the Big End of Town. Gonsky is hated and reviled and rubbished because more money will shift to the Small End of Town largely where the actual need exists. A cabinet with 78% private schooling (vs 25% nationally) likes to look after its own, equity and need are interpreted differently.
    Joe, Tony and Christopher, all Jesuit graduates, do not seem to have absorbed the philosophy of common good and focus on the poor. Though they have excelled at the Jesuit trait of political intigue.
    3rd Dec 2013
    Joe, Tony and Christopher aka The Three Stooges. What an embarrassment to the country.
    3rd Dec 2013
    I hope that this means that the Australian Constitution is NOW FINALLY becoming part of the curriculum.
    A lot of money though for teaching from a book which does not have any "Copyright" of "Fees to be paid to the Author"!

    I also hope that the "Calculus lessons" are replaced with subjects that are more practical to make people "Perform the Every Day Tasks" after they leave school.
    Highschool should offer the preparation for Uni and not teach parts of its specialised subjects!
    3rd Dec 2013
    It is very dangerous to try to summarise a 250 page report that Mr Gonski dreww up with Labor looking over his shoulder. Trouble is that there many factors that even a school teacher SHOULD be able to comprehend. Since COMPREHENSION is one of the vital parts of the curriculum that needs real upgrading. Too much emphasis on the money and not enough on quality of teaching and syllabis ( oops spelling- my school had poor funding he he he ). Now to maths. The great master in maths Newton used to study in a cold alleyway, under a street lamp. No flash library with hot and coild assistants. Please don not forget that education has greatly to do with making a topid aware not handing out certificates for copying the latest webpage . Phew. That shows my age, breeding, and lack of Gonsky handouts.
    3rd Dec 2013
    It appears the present government is jumping the gun, pantomimes are normally saved for Christmas.
    3rd Dec 2013
    An about face on the about face that already was an about face on the about face from before!!!... Which face are you looking through mr Abscess?
    3rd Dec 2013
    Is it possible that the whole thing is a fiction story in the first place .../?
    A diversionary tactic .../?
    A ploy to make the Australian people believe that due process was taking place .../?
    A stunt for the cameras .../?
    Yet another opportunity for the political arena to strut the stage - pace the boards of the dramatic theater that is their lives .../?
    I don't believe for one moment that Gonski Shmonsky is anything but a stunt...
    SORRY !
    It is like us finding out that the Australian government is giving OUR details over to other nations -
    1 :- I don't believe that they can -
    2 :- They have no use for them what so ever -
    3 :- They are not smart enough to access them in the first place -
    SORRY !
    3rd Dec 2013
    Oh dear, I can't stand it any longer! All this about "backflips" & "backflipping". Picture an acrobat. Now watch him do a backflip. See. . . he ends up facing exactly the same way as he started!
    3rd Dec 2013
    Predictable comments from the usual suspects spouting the predictable lines of argument. Exactly what are the aims of the educational system/s in educating Australia's children? The loudly trumpeted BER turned out to be a bonanza for the "Labor Mates" in the construction companies that got the building contracts in the Labor states. What, if any, educational values accrued to the children from this construction program?
    Will another bunch of bureaucrats improve the literacy and numeracy of the children? Will the social engineers employed by the various state education departments increase and foist even more politically correct programs on over worked teachers to the detriment of teaching literacy and numeracy? Will throwing more money at problems provide solutions? Experience in school education, Aboriginal welfare and health education would suggest not unless changes are made in the provision of new approaches. Perpetuating the same old "same old" has seen the educational performance of Australian schools diminish compared to other countries. Will new ideas from overseas be implemented or will we see more and more money squandered on promoting and providing relevant educational solutions that provide success overseas.
    Or is it all too hard? I doubt that throwing more money at Education will provide a "quick fix silver bullet" to the problems facing Australian education.
    4th Dec 2013
    I think your bottom line says it all, Wally. I think the rest was not relevant.
    4th Dec 2013
    This is not about "education" "gonski" "money" or anything other than a trick trying to be pulled over the eyes of an electorate to cover up a blatant pre-election LIE a broken election PROMISE!! No more no less and don't be fooled by the attempted cover up.
    We won't be falling for the typical Abbott approach of throwing red herrings into the discussion to divert everyone from the actual issue, as he so skillfully did over HIS Indonesia debacle. It seems that that was a conspiracy betwen the Guardian' newspaper and the ABC who were the only ones at fault!!
    Talk about shooting the messenger and getting away with it and he and Pyne are doing it again.
    4th Dec 2013
    The Liberal Party have done exactly that wally, thrown money at education. Same ol', same ol'

    During the lead up to the election they promised "We will deliver better schools, encourage better teachers, better teaching and give principals, communities and parents a greater say over schools." How do they propose to do this? They will "... dismantle all ‘command and control’ features imposed by Labor on the States, Territories and non-government schools and any new funding will not be conditional upon a deal which reduces their authority over schools or creates unnecessary red tape..."

    Accountability is gone. Autonomy is in. At least Labor attempted to implement the recommendations put forward by the Gonski team. It appears the Coalition has completely ignored the recommendations. Let's see how that plays out for the kids in the next couple of years. What a joke.

    It is interesting that the Coalition do not appear to have an 'education policy' per se. They have a policy for schools: putting students first. Page 2, Key Points is an eye opener, and deeply depressing. A full list of the Coalitions policies can be found here: http://www.liberal.org.au/our-policies
    5th Dec 2013
    Send Campbell Newman in Queensland an open cheque, he will DEFINITELY spend it on schools!
    3rd Dec 2013
    As a post script to my earlier post, the issue is whether to continue to follow the current methods that have failed to improve educational or not. The system appears to be broken and the governments, Federal and state, will have to explore other methods and perhaps even revive older methods in education to bring about the desired result.
    4th Dec 2013
    Yes Wally, it WAS called "The Gonski Reforms" and after years of discussion to come up with the greatest reforms to Australian education where the current "system" had been a patent failure, it now won't even get off the ground.
    You can bet on at least one of the platforms that the next election will be fought on.
    4th Dec 2013
    WALLY: If this Christopher Pyne shambles is allowed to proceed, this "Coalition of the Unwilling" will definitely be heading for one term in government.
    4th Dec 2013
    A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.
    4th Dec 2013
    Exactly Aloysius. Perfectly sums up what the W.A., N.T. and Qld. governments have done and with NO STRINGS ATTACHED!! Wow.
    4th Dec 2013
    Conski--- What a fiasco, but what would you expect. Good on Chris Pyne, he will sort it out. Not keen on the idea of pumping more billions in to fix our education. We need better teachers and more respect from students. Comes from their breeding and their parents. My kids after private school education cannot spell or add two and two together. What a system. They are even now cheating at the university exams. We might be the lucky country, but not the clever country.
    4th Dec 2013
    Today's SMH news indicates: "We are failing our children. Their results in maths and reading have slumped over the past decade while huge gaps persist based on wealth, location, gender and whether students are indigenous.
    The OECD report indicates that although our results are better than the OECD average, results are slipping and are bedevilled by "equity" issues.
    The findings are likely to further fuel debates around school funding, reinvigorated this week by the Abbott government's shifting positions on the Gonski "needs-based" funding model and its decision to hand $1.2 billion to non-signatory jurisdictions such as the Northern Territory which will not be required to distribute the funding to schools with the most disadvantaged students.
    The latest Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests of mathematics, reading and science show Australia is being outperformed by more and more countries, particular from East Asia, with Australian students performing at a level equivalent to three years behind students from Shanghai in mathematics and 1.1/2 years behind in reading. Australia's rankings fell in all subjects. From 15th to 19th in Maths; 10th to 16th in Science and 9th to 14th in Reading since 2009.........".

    I quoted a few examples from a different website at the top of these posts yesterday. If you read them, Christopher Pyne's record of achievements since he joined the opposition ranks from September 2008 until election day this year, has nothing to be proud about, and it is clear he has not put much input into understanding what took a panel of highly qualified Australians twelve months and more than 700 submissions from various groups, to bring forth the Gonski Review which was to change the way education was conducted after 40 years of previous governments of both persuasions just throwing money around to try and fix a broken model.

    The Gonski Panel was chaired by David Gonski AC, businessman and philanthropist, Chancellor of University of NSW and Chairman of Australian Securities Exchange, Coca-Cola Amatil and Investec Bank, with the following members:
    Ken Boston AO, former director-general NSW Department of Education & Training;
    Carmen Lawrence, former federal minister and Premier of W.A. and currently Director of The Centre of Study of Social Change, School of Psychology, University of W.A.;
    Kathryn Greiner AO former Deputy Chancellor at Bond University and Chairman of Australian Hearing;
    Bill Scales AO, current Chancellor of Swinburne University of Technology, Chairman of Port of Melbourne Corporation and a board memer of Veolia Australia Advisory Board; and,
    Peter Tannock AM, noted International Educationalist and former vice-Chancellor of University of Notre Dame, Australia.

    The Gonski Review and all those efforts to put the legislation through BOTH Houses of Parliament and be passed, the joy it gave to teachers around the whole of Australia to finally be getting an education policy "based on needs", and then be sent backwards 40 years is SO TYPICAL OF THE CURRENT GOVERNMENT AND PYNE IN PARTICULAR TO NOT RECOGNISE A "VERY GOOD POLICY". PYNE REFERS TO IT AS "SHAMBOLIC, ONE OF HIS FAVOURITE WORDS USED IN QUESTION TIME OVER AND OVER .... HE IS THE ONE WHO IS SHAMBOLIC. HE IS NOT EDUCATED ENOUGH TO UNDERSTAND WHAT IT IS ALL ABOUT.


    Conski(?) indeed, Pyne indeed, he couldn't sort himself out, never mind education. In your own words, "my kids after private school education cannot spell or add two and two together. What a system. They are even now cheating at the university exams......". Your kids have been educated along with thousands of others by an "outdated education system" to which the Gonski Review has addressed. The Gonski reforms which partly commenced from July 2013, should not be tampered with. State Governments saw its benefits and are advocating for it.
    5th Dec 2013
    Surfer I am amazed at what you just said? " for once you and I are in agreement over Private versus State school education, as an example Hawke and Abbott were both Rhode's Scholars,'what an acclaim for a Rhodes Scholar? both of them egotistical gala's, Hawkes reverence from the the brainwashed should really be directed to Keating, likewise the reverence of Howard should have been directed toward Costello, as for Abbott, poor Joe was embarrassed by his leaders claims before the election and now his reputation is on the line.
    6th Dec 2013
    Pyne has made a fool of himself and the coalition . Three positions in one week to end up at the pre election position except enforcing the reforms . Now its a free lunch to the states to take the fed money and withdraw the state money for education . Gonski was always about money going to where it was needed more than just more money . Pyne tried to renege on an election promise without even having a replacement model . That is incompetence beyond belief .
    4th Dec 2013
    Gonski was never educational reform. It was only ever intended as a funding model which lay gathering dust until the former government dusted it off and called it a plan for educational reform. So much so that David Gonski endeavored to have his name disassociated from the politics of Gillard's scheme. In NSW the Teachers Federation spent thousands on media advertisements in the weeks leading up to the federal election telling parents that Gonski meant more resources and smaller class sizes, and better results

    What the NSWTF did not tell parents was that since the Disadvantaged Schools program introduced by the Whitlam Government back in the mid-70s, millions of dollars have been poured into education. In NSW class sizes have reduced by 50% in years Kinder to Year 2 and by 30 - 35% in Years 3 - 6. There have also been improvements in release time for teachers, support staff, the availability of relief teachers, and who could put a figure on the cost of new technology over the past 20 years. In fact, during this period, educational funding has increased by more than 40%.

    For what?

    The years since the late '70s which have seen all of these improvements seem to coincide with the years during which our student performance levels have slipped from being up with the best in the world to the release today of reports showing that our students are falling well behind students in comparable countries in the areas of literacy and mathematics.

    If resources and class sizes are not the answer, the other educational changes over the past four decades have been the poorer quality of our teacher training, the dumbing down of the curriculum and an increasing lack of teacher supervision and.thus, of accountability NSW teachers have recently gained substantial pay increases, yet apparently not one word in the agreement suggesting improved outcomes are expected as part of the agreement.

    It matters not a fig where the money is coming from and which states have and have not signed up. Pyne is finally talking of the need to improve the quality of teacher training, the need to emphasis e phonics in the teaching of reading, and a return to a curriculum relevant to children's needs rather than based on ideology. It will take time but at last we have someone driving the move to have Australian children performing at the level that will make Australian education programs equal to anywhere else in the world - where we used to be!
    4th Dec 2013
    Well maybe Pyne should have another good talk to his Prime Minister. Yesterday in question time, every time the opposition questioned Tony Abbott about his backflip on education funding, he BRAGGED that he has given $1.2 billion more to the states than Labor (no strings attached), so his is a MUCH better deal, yet, today we hear Pyne saying that the amount of money doesn't count. Both can't be right??
    4th Dec 2013
    Like so many others on this site, Grateful, you are far more interested in trying to score political points, rather than focusing on the major issue, which is surely the improvement of educational outcomes for our failing students.
    4th Dec 2013
    SMH 4/12/13: "..... Gonski review panellist and former director-general of NSW education Dr. Ken Boston said Australia should be comparing itself with CANADA IN OECD comparisons - which performed significantly higher than Australia in maths and reading...... Canada is the country Australia needs to compare itself with because it is culturally similar. The key thing is that it has a higher performance than us overall and a lower correlation between disadvantage and performance".
    Dr. Boston said the private school sector is much smaller in Canada and school funding is distributed according to school need. The report noted that systems with high performance in mathematics tend to allocate resources more equitably between advantaged and disadvantaged schools.
    Christopher Pyne attacked the Labor government today saying Labor's report card shows that for all the billions spent on laptops and school halls there is still no evidence of a lift in outcomes for students.
    Shorten indicated that it was the Howard SES model still in force that was to blame.
    And the Australian Education Union blamed the Howard-era also.
    It was the Howard-era "socio-economic status" funding model (SES) championed by Tony Abbott and Christopher Pyne, AND IN OPERATION FOR ALL BUT ONE YEAR of Australia's decline in PISA scores, where the most funding has gone to the wealthiest private schools. PISA scores only commened in the year 2000 and have been released every 3 years since.
    The Gonski modelling was passed by the House of Representatives and Senate. It should be given a chance to prove itself. If the most disadvantaged can receive additional teacher/teacher aid support to help lift them up the ladder, isn't this a good achievement.
    John we all veer to our political leanings just as our government and opposition can't see the forest for the trees in their leanings, but education is one of the most important components for the future of our children and our country and the current model is broken and we need to give Gonski a chance. You indicate that Pyne is finally talking about the need for teacher training etc. well that is also part of Gonski.
    It's a Coalition "thing", throw everything in the direction of the ones that can afford private education and to the business people. Pyne making a point of saying that they are now putting more dollars into education than the former government but not directing how those dollars should be used, points to more of the same old tactics.
    5th Dec 2013
    John. Do you honestly believe that Tony abbott and christopher Pyne give a continental about "improving educational outcomes"???
    Since when does a Liberal government give a second thought to "education reform". Please get real before you accuse others of trying to score political points. What hase the new government been doing for the last 6 years. Exactly that, so much, that they haven't even had time to form ANY forward thinking POLICIES!!!
    5th Dec 2013
    Grateful, I believe that if you were to do some extra research you would discover that Christopher Pyne's background would give a very clear explanation of his deep interest in education, particularly in Literacy. Similarly, some reading of a few recent financial articles would also show you why it was necessary to hand the nine billion over to the Reserve Bank.

    Finally, on the question of educational policies, could you please explain what improvements in educational outcomes came from from the over-budget, and later abandoned Computers in Schools Program or the grossly over-priced and over-budget BER.
    5th Dec 2013
    C'mon John, who but you is trying to score political points,? if you are an expert on education reforms then I am amazed you were not consulted , Pyne's Literacy? oh give me strength, Go further back and read my post,s , both Hawke and Abbott were Rhode Scholars?, again give me strength! I am not religious but someone needs to help us!
    6th Dec 2013
    Obviously, moorelands, you know nothing of Pyne's background, either - and I am not talking of his personal academic achievements. On the question of policies, I am merely drawing attention to the difference between throwing millions at programs which achieved no improvements in educational outcomes, as in computers and over-priced school halls, and policies which will address teacher training and literacy and which will bring about improvements in student learning.
    4th Dec 2013
    Dear friend Egyptian and Grateful. I am curious about your interpretation of what Gonski "reforms" are all about as interpreted by the previous Labor Government. Is it true that much of the funding for the reforms was to be wrenched out of higher education (universities)? If true, how would this affect teacher training? Was the man who did the research and prepared the report (Gonski himself) pleased with what the Labor government planned to do in his name?
    I am confident that people of our generation got a better education 50 or 60 or longer ago than our grandchildren receive in today's public schools. How do you "fix" education and get it back to producing more young people that are literate and do not need to rely on calculators to do their sums for them. In stead of carping about Christopher Pyne, I think we should encourage a complete overhaul of the school system and get it back to teaching basic skills before "improving' the social skills of the pupils. I saw in the local newspaper where an education official said we should "trust the experts". HELL, so-called "experts" derailed the whole system in the first place and are responsible for the mess 21st century education in this country is in. (Which reminds me of the "Experts" that have been scaring the gullible in the climate debate.)
    Lastly, I would like to see what Dr. Gonski would have to say about what Labor and Bill Shorten were going to do with his recommendations.
    5th Dec 2013
    Wally, as I said previously, my participation in this particular topic is not about money, gonski, education, Liberal or Labor, it is only about how this government has lied to the Australian public, has broken a pre-election promise and are trying to conceal those blantant facts with typical trickery and weasel words.
    By raising your type of question, that is precisely what Tony Abbott and Christopher Pyne want us to do, it is a red herring and a total diversion from the REAL question, why are we allowing these two men to get away with blatant lies and broken promises?
    Why are we not seeing headlines in our newspapers with those words in them as was nearly the case, daily, during the previous three years??
    Where is media "balance"?? These are the questions that should be being asked, not rhetorical questions and answers on some "education reform".
    Joe Hockey hysterically shouted to all Australians that we had a budget "crisis" and that we had to take urgent action to rectify that "crisis". Yet the sooner he gets in he finds enough money to "donate" NINE BILLION dollars to the reserve bank and then asks for and extra $200 BILLION so he can spend without explanation to the Parliament??
    With their pathetic performances so far, the logical question that comes out of these past two weeks, is whether this government is competent to take this great country into the future?
    Guaranteed one termer and Tony Abbott won't be the leader in that fight.
    5th Dec 2013

    Hi Grateful. First a little story about George Washington's good will visit to Governor Phillip in the early days of the settlement of Sydney Town. Whilst hanging around Governor Phillip's tent, George Washington espied a fine gum tree. As was his wont, George took out his trusty axe and chopped it down. When Gov. Phillip returned and found his favourite gum tree had been given the chop, he demanded to know who did it. George Washington said "I cannot tell a lie. I did it with my little hatchet." to which Gov Phillip replied "George, you might be a big shot in Yankee Land, but if you can't tell any lies, you aren't going to get anywhere in Australian politics". So even from the earliest times in Australian politics, the politicians ALL tell lies to get ahead, even our "favourites" and we should accept that as gospel fact.
    Getting off topic a little, look what happened to Pauline Hansen. I'm not saying that she told the truth 100% of the time, but in a way, events can be said to bear out what she said. Time will tell about the rest of our parliamentarians Complaining about politicians playing fast and loose with the truth is as pointless as a dog chasing its tail in that it will get us nowhere when all is said and done.
    5th Dec 2013
    Wally, you don't have to tell me about the "credibility" of politicians. Why, even our Prime Minister, a "chriatian" at that, professes that the only time he speaks the "gospel truth" is when he puts it in writing! MY concern is that the media does not give a balanced reporting of it and so many people also accept that. We all pay the price when both our politicians and so many of our journalists are liars.
    5th Dec 2013
    Has anyone really thought through the situation that is causing such anguish about our alleged decline in educational outcomes?
    Has anyone consulted a dictionary for a definition of "learn"?
    If they have then they would be informed that "learning" is the province of the student.
    Teachers are there to teach, advise, direct and encourage the student but they can't "learn" for them so I would have grave reservations about throwing extra money at the system.
    Face it! They can't perform a craniotomy and pour information into the students' heads.
    The students really need to actually "want" the knowledge.

    In a different forum to this, I posted the following..........

    "Much debate, not to mention billions of tax dollars, is being devoted to the proposition that Australian children are not benefitting from our educational institutions. We are constantly presented with unfavourable comparisons with other systems and countries.
    Has anyone ever really asked why and, furthermore, considered the question in the larger context? Personally, I cannot consider that Australian children are genetically inferior in the intellectual scale to those of other cultures.
    I am more inclined to attribute their mediocre performance to the ambience or lifestyle that they have always enjoyed. Let’s face it; we have a very comfortable lifestyle that is not conducive to a competitive environment where our young have to really strive to achieve.
    If you are inclined to question this, then I would suggest that you view (in detail) the published results of any academic achievements such as the Higher School Certificate. I am sure that you will find a preponderance of non Anglo/Saxon names and this, to my mind, illustrates the cultural divide that exists in the cosseted society in which we raise our young.
    If I am even near the mark in my assessment, then the necessary correction will not take place in my lifetime, but I remain convinced that it has to happen!
    I have no wish to be the harbinger of doom and gloom but I am sure that we need to confront tougher times over an extended period before we will see our kids really extending themselves so as to be competitive with their contemporaries."
    5th Dec 2013
    Too many long words , but I get what you are saying, My mum tried her best but we were pitifully poor, and Dad was violent,( in hindsight probably because he could not cope) so therefore I was violent in my early sea going days, but I was determined that if I had a family I would not follow that path, there were some early hiccups along the way when I struck my wife, then later my teenage son, but it was a wake up call to my shame never to be repeated, my children are now well established, my daughter in medicine, my son "drives " (in his words) 747.s , and my wife and I have been married 43 years.
    8th Dec 2013
    Speaking as a high school teacher in the public system for over 40 years, you are absolutely right. Nothing will improve until many parents change their parenting style and bring up children who respect learning and respect authority and have some discipline inculcated in them. And while governments constantly interfere with what should be taught and how.

    Nothing will change while we live in a society that worships celebrities, believes no one should fail, yet admires violent behaviour in sport and on the street and TV, movies and computer games promote bullying and violence.

    Nothing will change until we have trained up better teachers with better literacy and numeracy skills and more rigorous knowledge of their subject. They are all currently the outcome of decades of poor education. Teachers do as they are told and have little say in what they teach or how - they are at the mercy of fads and fashions and political ambitions and without the means to punish children for misdemeanours in any meaningful way - and children know it.

    money may help to achieve some of these things but no all of them.
    6th Dec 2013
    Hi Grateful I agree with your comments about the believability of politicians and journalists. I also agree about the gullibility of many in the voting public. The place where I disagree is choosing which political party to agree with and which media outlets to trust to tell the truth.
    Much has been said about Rupert Murdock and his alleged attempts to influence political outcomes in elections here and overseas, However I feel that the ABC that is supposed to be impartial in its news coverage (according to its charter) is anything but impartial in its editorialising and coverage against the Coalition and in so doing has violated the terms of its charter. Rachel says she wonders where the $1.2 billion Abbott says he is going to spend on education is coming from. I would suggest that the government should sell the ABC to find the money. I wonder if Mr. Murdock would be interested.
    7th Dec 2013
    Wally, would you suggest that Rupert is unbiased or Gina, they have the billions of dollars to buy newspapers to put forward their self serving interests, as to my 10 cents per day for the ABC would you deprive me of having an alternative unbiased opinion? as for your last suggestion you betcha Murdoch would be very interested.
    7th Dec 2013
    Hi Moorlands. I think it is a given that everyone has a particular bias in their point of view. It does not matter whether they are paupers or plutocrats I also think that a significant failing of our educational system is that so many products of that system are unable to recognise bias in the media and in the utterances of those who would rule over us. Some running our education systems "confuse" education with brainwashing in pursuit of their own political agendas.
    Personally, I do not worry about whether Rupert or Gina have any bias in their views any more than I worry about the ABC's bias in the smug, self righteous tone it displays in its "reporting" of events. If you do not like the bias of the media you are reading, viewing or listening to, switch it off or leave it on the news stand. It is worrying that some of us automatically swallow hook line and sinker the views presented in the media.
    An example can be seen in the climate change debate. The proponents of saving the world almost spit out the epithets "denialist" and "climate skeptic" in tones reminiscent of the heretic and witch hunters of the 15 and 16th Centuries before burning such miscreants ( for holding such deplorable views) at the stake.
    So has "Liberal Education" really progressed since those benighted times? Does education really broaden the mind? Or are some of our education officials and some teachers more intent on inflicting conformity and stifling freedom of thought the way Mao tried to do when he unleashed the young Red Guards on Red China in the mid 1960's? What of Voltaire (the French philosopher) disagreeing yet willing to defend the right of the person he disagreed with to hold his dissenting view? Education should teach people to rationally analyse the merits and demerits of arguments instead of reciting in parrot fashion a few repetitious slogans, like the "four legs good, two legs baaaaad" in Orwell's Animal Farm..

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