Feb 20, 2012

Towards a new school funding system

Funding arrangements in Australian schools are failing to get the best results for students, are complicated and lack transparency, the first comprehensive report into school funding since 1973 has found.

The Review of Funding for Schooling was undertaken by a panel of eminent Australians chaired by David Gonski AC.

It warns that new arrangements are needed to:

  • Make sure that Australian kids do not fall behind the rest of the world, and keep Australia competitive, after a decline in education standards in the past decade.


  • Stop the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students growing wider.

To deal with these challenges, the report recommends introducing a Schooling Resource Standard, which would have two elements: a set investment per student, plus additional top-up funding to target disadvantage.

While the proposals in the report provide insight into the kind of system that might deliver the resources we need for schools and students, the report also acknowledges a lot more work is needed to develop and test the different elements of the model before we can be sure it would deliver on our goals.

The Gillard Government will implement a model of this kind if satisfied that it will help Australia to achieve the following objectives:


  • Support higher achievement for all students;


  • Deliver equity in access to high quality education;


  • Deliver excellent teaching and learning outcomes;


  • Support school choice for a diverse range of schools, allowing parents to choose the school that is right for their child;


  • Provide fairness, transparency and accountability;


  • Support continuous improvement and innovation in school performance;


  • Deliver financial sustainability, to ensure that schools can be financed properly into the future;


  • Stability and certainty for schools about their funding, ensuring that no school loses a dollar of funding per student as a result of any changes.

The Gillard Government will now begin work on the next stages in developing a new funding model for our schools.

The Government will:

  • Take a set of funding principles to the next meeting of COAG for agreement.


  • Seek the commitment of states and territories to work through the reform proposals and options for implementation. This will include detailed development and modeling of the elements of a new funding system, including costs, and how they could work in practice.


  • Establish a number of working groups under the COAG council system that will engage across sectors and with stakeholders in key areas to test specific elements of the recommended model, including additional funding to target disadvantage.


  • Establish a Ministerial Reference Group to ensure there is ongoing consultation and dialogue with key stakeholders and the public through this process.

The report also makes a number of other key recommendations, including a new approach to capital funding, strategies for promoting philanthropic partnerships with schools, and establishment of an independent National Schools Resourcing Body to set the level of investment needed to provide a high quality education. We will consider each of these in full as we work through the full set of recommendations contained in the report.

In working on these reforms, the Gillard Government will carry out a nation-wide consultation process with Australian families, teachers, principals and the wider community.

This will begin on Wednesday 22nd February with a public forum in Canberra which will be streamed live around the country. Further events will be held right across Australia in the coming months.

The Government wants every Australian parent to be confident their child will get a world-class education no matter where they live or what school they attend.

That’s why we’ve made investing in schools a national priority. We’ve introduced reforms that are having real benefits for students and families, including the national curriculum, modernising facilities in schools across the country, investing in teacher training, providing more power to principals and providing more information to parents than ever before through the My School site.

The Government has already almost doubled funding for schools to more than $65 billion over four years.

National reform of funding is the next step in this ongoing effort to raise education standards in schools. We will work through these proposals carefully, in collaboration with the community, to make sure we arrive at a new funding model that delivers the best results for Australian schools and families.

The Government thanked the members of the panel for the Review of Funding for Schooling for their leadership and service on this important issue.

The full report, the Government’s initial response and details of the next steps can be found at the Your School Our Future website www.schoolfunding.gov.au  


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