28/09/2004 - 22:00

Reader Response - Flaws in Labor schools policy

28/09/2004 - 22:00


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Labor’s education policy is as educationally unsound as it is socially divisive.

Labor’s education policy is as educationally unsound as it is socially divisive.

It fails to understand the true nature of educational disadvantage and provides no transparent formula for assigning funds to the non-government sector.

Some comfort can be drawn from the existence of a basic entitlement for every Australian student.

Its application, however, is confused.

Crucially, by reverting to the discredited model of funding schools, not students, the ALP policy will work against equity.

Educationally sound resourcing is based on student need.

Factors contributing to student need are well documented by research and understood by educators.

The ALP policy fails to apply these understandings to its funding of the non-government sector. Non-government schools are to have their resources measured against a 21st-century resource standard.

How the standard is determined remains unclear. The ALP policy is also silent on State grants.

It is therefore unclear whether or not the 15 per cent basic grant represents combined Commonwealth and State contributions.

 Labor’s policy makes much of funding “needy” non-government schools, but no additional funds flow to the sector.

In reality, the amount of money being redistributed around the non-government sector is small -– $500 million over four years.

This is to be achieved by reducing grants to 67 “basic grant” and 111 “funding guaranteed” (ie frozen) schools. 

Students with disabilities attending non-government schools also fall outside Labor’s equity claim.

Equity exists when students with disabilities attract the same government support regardless of the school they attend.

There is no such provision in Labor’s policy. 

The policy contains no apparent incentive for State governments to do more for government schools, which are primarily their responsibility.

Whilst appearing to champion government schools, the recent record of Labor governments shows otherwise.

In 2003 – 2004 the Coalition Federal Government increased its spending on government schools by 5.7 per cent.

 No Labor State government matched that.

 In summary, Labor’s Great Australian Schools is more about political point scoring than making both government and non-government schools great.

Joy Shepherd

Principal, St Hilda’s Anglican School for Girls

Mosman Park



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