House debates

Monday, 24 June 2013

Questions without Notice

Education Funding

2:47 pm

Photo of Peter GarrettPeter Garrett (Kingsford Smith, Australian Labor Party, Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth) Share this | Hansard source

I thank the member for Banks for his question. There is no doubt that education for this country is the foundation of our character and our future prosperity. The great danger that we are faced with is that, with some education standards declining Australia-wide, too many young Australians will be left behind in the future if they do not get the support from the National Plan for School Improvement to provide more resources for better teaching and support in the classrooms where it is needed.

I thought it might be worthwhile just having a look at a state like Victoria. Too many disadvantaged students from low socioeconomic backgrounds, year 9 students, are achieving at a standard that is approximately three years below the reading and numeracy equivalent of students from higher socioeconomic backgrounds. In Queensland too many Indigenous students are being left behind. Again, year 9 students are achieving at a standard approximately three years below for reading and numeracy. To be that far behind in year 9 absolutely puts a handcuff on your capacity to go any further in the future. That is why our plan to reform schools with an investment of almost $10 billion is a matter of national importance.

We are not the only ones who see it that way of course. The words of the Premier of New South Wales should be ringing in our ears this week, where he says, about the national plan:

… it provides additional resources, fairer distribution, to deliver higher standards and better outcomes in schools across—

his state of—

New South Wales.

The same would apply in every state in the Commonwealth.

So in Queensland, sign up to the national plan, see schools benefit from around an additional $3.8 billion over the next six years, or do not sign on, stick to a broken funding model and see government schools lose on average around $2.4 million per school. For Premier Napthine it is pretty clear as well: sign up, schools in Victoria benefit from an additional $4 billion over the next six years; do not sign up and government schools will lose about $1.9 million on average per school. Those figures are very stark. What is crucial, in understanding how important this is, is to reflect on what would happen if young students in each of those states were denied the opportunity for the additional resources and reforms under the National Plan for School Improvement. Bendigo Senior Secondary College Principal Dale Pearce got it right. He said simply, 'The proposed reforms are welcome and necessary.'

That is how education stakeholders see it. So to the Premier in Queensland, who seems hostage to ideological enmities from another age: get on board and understand that it is in the interest of your students, as it is in every state, that we have better schools for all Australians and a national plan for school improvement that will support them.


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