The IEU was invited by Federal MP for Barton Linda Burney to join a panel to speak to the changes to Gonski funding introduced and passed by the Turnbull government.
The community forum, held at Bexley Community Centre in June, was attended by Organisers David Towson and Lubna Haddad, along with other educational leaders and a representative from the NSW Teachers Federation. The forum was well attended with teachers from all sectors, along with concerned parents.
Linda Burney outlined how the new funding formula based on SES would cut $14 million from Barton public, private and independent schools. These significant cuts would adversely affect primary and secondary schools who cater for diverse groups of students, many of whom are benefiting from additional and targeted literacy and numeracy programs, the availability of specialist teachers and small grouped classes, as well as occupational and speech therapists.
Essential to the discussion among local educational leaders, community members and parents in attendance was how the original Gonski formula, which levelled schools’ funding on the basis of student needs, has proven benefits across schools and for individual students. One example given was a student in Year 7 who’s reading age was that of a nine year old but improved to the appropriate 13 years old after only 12 months of targeted literacy skills.
IEU spoke of the Union’s commitment to the original aim of the Gonski review, which was to provide a needs based, sector blind funding model for the education of Australian children. Concerns about the inadequacy of funding for those with the greatest needs, children with special needs, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, and newly arrived students, was noted. The impact on delivering positive educational outcomes along with teacher workload concerns was also highlighted in this forum, resonating national sentiments which have been ignored by the Turnbull government and its supporters in the Senate.
We thank Linda Burney for the opportunity to discuss this issue, which will continue to be critical to our national purpose. IEU will continue to advocate for a fair and equitable funding system that supports both our members and the children they teach.