Education and its funding is in the news a lot at the moment thanks to the budget it fills newspaper columns (Chapman et al. 2017; Harris 2017; Goss 2017; Doyle 2017) and talkback radio slots (Varishetti 2017; The Curious Case of School Funding in Australia 2017, Education, Environment and Equality 2016). Everyone has an opinion, and there are lots of vested interests from the education sector. So much so they have formed their own lobby groups such as the ‘Independent Schools Council of Australia’ (n.d.), ‘Independent Schools Council of Australia’ (n.d.), and Save Our Schools Australia (n.d.). These groups are created due to there being a fixed amount of money for funding education and everyone wants their share.
These discussions are essentially about funding and who is going to get what. The question I wanted to answer is ‘Why does it actually matter?’ Why do we even care about how much money schools get and more importantly, which schools get it? It matters because a good education means the poverty cycle can be broken.
“Children who come from low socioeconomic backgrounds are more likely to have low educational attainment. This has multiple implications, including health, criminality, economic participation, literacy and numeracy. Issues of functional illiteracy are closely linked to significant social impacts.” (Riddle 2014, p.1)
The chart shows that poor kids tend to do poorly at school. Attending a school with a below average Socio-Education score (ICSEA) correlates to poor performance on the NAPLAN tests which measure literacy and numeracy skills (‘NAPLAN – FAQ’ n.d.). There is also a strong correlation between achievement and attendance with students who do not do well at school attending school less. This is shown by the colour cast with the higher attendance rates (grey) predominately above the ICSEA average.
The Gonski funding model attempts to correct this imbalance through providing more funding to the kids that need it most because it recognises the fundamental link between a good education and lifelong accomplishment and endeavours to allow students “to achieve their very best regardless of their background or circumstances” (Gonski & Department of Education 2012, p.xxix).
You can make a difference to kids in need by making sure that you vote for fairer funding for all.
Chapman, B., Croucher, G., Clarke, K. & Watson, L. 2017, ‘Federal Budget 2017: what’s changing in education?’, The Conversation, viewed 12 May 2017, <http://theconversation.com/federal-budget-2017-whats-changing-in-education-77177>.
Doyle, J. 2017, ‘Government secures Hinch vote for school funding changes’, ABC News, Current, viewed 12 May 2017, <http://www.abc.net.au/news/story-streams/federal-budget-2017/2017-05-11/government-secures-hinch-vote-for-school-funding-changes/8515464>.
Education, Environment and Equality 2016, Q&A | ABC TV, ABC, Her Majesty’s Theatre in Adelaide, 26 September, viewed 12 May 2017, <http://www.abc.net.au/tv/qanda/txt/s4521340.htm>.
Gonski, D.M. & Department of Education, E., and Workplace Relations 2012, Review of funding for schooling: final report, Dept. of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, Canberra.
Goss, P. 2017, ‘Gonski 2.0: Is this the school funding plan we have been looking for? Finally, yes’, The Conversation, viewed 12 May 2017, <http://theconversation.com/gonski-2-0-is-this-the-school-funding-plan-we-have-been-looking-for-finally-yes-77081>.
Harris, R. 2017, ‘Catholic schools to gain funding’, HeraldSun, viewed 12 May 2017, <http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/national/federal-budget/federal-budget-2017-catholic-primary-schools-to-gain-funding/news-story/2c4b4e34fc501787f46d6341e468f82b>.
‘Independent Schools Council of Australia’ n.d., Independent Schools Council of Australia, viewed 12 May 2017, <http://isca.edu.au/>.
‘NAPLAN – FAQ’ n.d., NAPLAN, viewed 12 May 2017, <https://www.nap.edu.au/information/faqs/naplan–general>.
Riddle, S. 2014, ‘Why poor kids continue to do poorly in the education game’, The Conversation, viewed 12 April 2017, <http://theconversation.com/why-poor-kids-continue-to-do-poorly-in-the-education-game-23500>.
Save Our Schools Australia n.d., viewed 12 May 2017, <http://www.saveourschools.com.au/>.
The Curious Case of School Funding in Australia 2017, Radio National, 13 April, viewed 12 May 2017, <http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/themoney/the-curious-case-of-school-funding/8433936>.
Varishetti, B. 2017, PM on school funding increase, Drive with Belinda Varishetti, Perth, 1 May, viewed 12 May 2017, <http://www.abc.net.au/radio/perth/programs/drive/pm-on-education/8491154>.
Image Credit: U.S. Army