News National Gonski urges Abbott to rethink school cuts

Gonski urges Abbott to rethink school cuts

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David Gonski has criticised the government’s decision to end the funding system he helped design, saying it will be to Australia’s detriment and he has urged the government to reconsider.

The Abbott government’s first budget indicates that from 2018 the commonwealth contribution to schools funding will increase only by the consumer price index, with relative adjustments for numbers of students.

This means the previous Labor government plans to hugely increase school funding that year to continue the needs-based Gonski model will be abandoned.

“The concept of aspiration … ends in 2017,” Mr Gonski said in his first major speech since the release of his panel’s report.

“There needs to be a commitment to a properly funded, needs-based, aspirational system and a failure to do so will be to our detriment.”

The decision to index funds on an indicator not linked to education costs will mean that if funding levels aren’t right in 2017, the mistakes will be perpetuated and any changes in circumstance rendered irrelevant.

“No doubt this is simple but like a lot that is simple it is not adequate,” Mr Gonski said.

While he had lost his “comfortable and comparative anonymity” since his name had entered the lexicon attached to school funding, Mr Gonski didn’t regret his involvement in the review.

He was pleased the funding was guaranteed until 2017 and that parts of the needs-based model were being implemented.

His only regret was the panel’s decision to suggest governments needed to put an extra $5 billion a year into schools.

The review’s finer details were lost as media focused on the big headline figure.

Mr Gonski also used his “postscript speech” at the University of Melbourne to give some insights into the panel’s thinking in coming up with its suggested funding system.