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2013-03-18

Gonski Funding Update

The saga that the Gonski implementation process has turned into continues to grind on behind closed doors and confidentiality agreements. Infuriating! But, the detail is now imminent. ISCA has laid down the gauntlet in a meeting with the Prime Minister and 10 April is now the absolute limit for everything to be laid on the table.

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The Brave New World of Gonski

Could this brave new world of Gonski funding still fall over? Absolutely! Is it the panacea for dealing with issues of equity and disadvantage? Absolutely not! Will most AACS schools be better off? Probably. But don’t be too hopeful yet? It’s not going to be another DER or BER windfall. This model of funding will not be simple. It will not be nearly as stable. It will be open to manipulation. Funding amounts going to schools will be open to annual changes based on multiple variables. The model is likely to be highly contestable politically and administratively for some time to come. The data on which it will be based is, in many cases, quite unsafe (eg ACARA ICSEA data, ARIA data, etc).

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The 2013 Federal Election Strategy

Within the next few days, we will complete out Support Pack for member schools to use as a ‘how to’ guide to engage sitting parliamentarians and would-be candidates for the coming elections. This Support Pack is a must read for all Principals, Business Managers and Board Chairs. The next 8 to 10 weeks is absolutely critical in terms of getting our message across to those who would represent us in the national parliament.

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The National School Improvement Plan

There is still no clarity at all around what conditions of funding might be written into the funding agreements at the end of the year.  However, it is certain that conditions will be there if Labor win the election.  It is as yet unknown what constraints those conditions might put on spending priorities.  However, schools will certainly have to provide confirmation and, potentially, evidence that financial commitments have been made to the government’s agendas as part of the acquittal statements. Watch this space.

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How Should AACS Schools Position Themselves?

This is where rubber and road meet. The longer the uncertainty continues, the more reasonable it is for our schools to be favouring a delay in the decision about the shape of the funding model. To be faced with uncertainty based on unsafe data and only partial modelling is not in our interests. To be signing funding agreements for 3 or 6 years based on such data is even more troubling. 3 years is a long time in politics. 6 years is an eternity. While, ultimately, schools will have to make their own minds up, the position the Government is putting us in is seriously not helpful. We must protect our schools not only from funding unfairness, but funding instability and uncertainty. We are rapidly reaching a point where a further deferment in the implementation of a new funding model (ie an extension of the SES quintennium) would be in...

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What About the Coalition?

The recent Q & A appearance of Christopher Pyne in debate with Peter Garrett was useful in that it gave us an opportunity to test the current setting of the Coalition policy position. Christopher Pyne reiterated the view that the Gonski Report had much to commend it and that the Coalition was supportive of various aspects of the Gonski recommendations. This is useful from the point of view that any attempt by the Labor Government to implement Gonski would probably not be summarily reversed by a Coalition.

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Beyond Gonski

Beyond Gonski: Reviewing the Evidence on Quality Schooling (Scott Prasser and Helen Tracey) That change is afoot in Australian Education is almost beyond debate – no matter what happens with the funding outcome. However, the actual shape of that change will largely be in the hands of individual schools and systems. The smart schools will be much more flexible and thoughtful and strategic in the way they think about change. Those that get left behind will face tough times in maintaining the confidence of their families, maintaining enrolment levels and remaining viable. The above-named paper was released in Sydney yesterday by the Public Policy Institute of the Australian Catholic University. The Study, commissioned by ISCA as one of 4 studies backgrounding the debate about the new funding model, is a serious contribution to the future shape of Australian schooling that we would all do well to mark and note. It’s...

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