The latest snapshot of Australia’s education system has shown Gonski funding has had a positive impact, but suggests teachers have been lumped with extra duties.
The Australian Education Union’s (AEU) 2016 State Of Our Schools Survey of more than 9,000 respondents shows significant resources are flowing into most states.
AEU deputy federal president Maurie Mulheron said 67 per cent of principals reported their schools were receiving Gonski funding, compared to 34 per cent in 2015.
The previous federal government struck an agreement with the states to put in place the needs-based funding scheme devised by expert consultant David Gonski.
The AEU report shows half of the schools receiving Gonski funding in 2016 would get more than $100,000, with 27 per cent receiving more than $400,000.
Mr Mulherson said the funding was having a direct impact on supporting students, “in terms of additional literacy support, numeracy, one-on-one support for students with learning difficulties, additional speech pathology”.
However, Mr Mulherson said there were also inconsistencies in the administration of the funding in different states.
“Each state has got some different challenges and that’s why we’re saying that we need the Prime Minister to show national leadership and push for the Gonski original plan to be implemented in full for all states and territories,” he said.
Mr Mulheron also said there were enormous concentrations of disadvantage among schools in outer suburbs of the big cities and in depressed rural areas but Gonski funding is not being supplied equally to these areas.
Teachers being lumped with extra duties
The AEU said the report also highlighted some serious problems in the system, including teachers being required to cover administration work that was previously done by state and territory education departments.
“We’re hearing from principals that they’re doing too much of the administrational, clerical, business side of things, which is taking them away from the important teaching and learning,” Mr Mulheron said.
The report also found principals were finding it difficult to staff schools, with more than half reporting that maths and science classes were not being taught by adequately qualified teachers.
NSW Secondary Principals’ Council deputy president Chris Presland said the uncertainty of government policy was one of the factors making it difficult to keep staff.
“We’ve got some fantastic programs, which are effectively funded through the Gonski funding, we’ve got people employed that are doing some great work with our kids,” he said.
“But, we can’t commit them to long-term employment because we don’t know what commitment the federal government is going to honour in terms of the future of funding.
“To the credit of the State Government … they have committed to funding the Gonski programs in schools as long as they can.”