Catholic Outlook

PM visits Our Lady of the Rosary following release of Gonski review


Youngsters from OLOR Primary welcome the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and the Minister for School Education, Peter Garrett, with (from left) the school’s principal, Mark Geerligs, and David Bradbury MP
Youngsters from OLOR Primary welcome the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and the Minister for School Education, Peter Garrett, with (from left) the school’s principal, Mark Geerligs, and David Bradbury MP

Catholic Outlook, March 2012

The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, visited Our Lady of the Rosary Primary, St Marys, on 21 February to speak with parents and teachers about school funding following the release of the Gonski report.

Accompanied by the Federal Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth, Peter Garrett MP, and the Federal Member for Lindsay, David Bradbury MP, the Prime Minister was greeted by principal Mark Geerligs and the school’s captains, Chloe Cortes and Peter Nichols.

The group was taken on a tour of the Years 3 and 4 learning spaces.

Accompanying the Prime Minister on the tour were Monsignor Robert McGuckin VG EV, Director of Strategic Accountability Services, John DeCourcy, and Director of System Performance, Paul Menday.

The PM then sat down with parents and teachers over Shrove Tuesday pancakes to discuss the issue of school funding and recommendations from the Gonski review.

David Gonski AC is an eminent businessman who is also the Chancellor of the University of NSW and Chairman of the Australian Securities Exchange, Coca-Cola Amatil and Investec Bank.

Mr Gonski chaired a panel of experts in undertaking a review of school funding arrangements in Australia to assess and develop funding recommendations for schooling beyond 2013.

Some of the key findings and recommendations from the report released on 20 February include:

  • $5 billion investment in Australia's government and non-government schools;
  • Australia’s school system should be funded on a per student basis rather than a per school basis. This would occur via new per student funding model: the schooling resource standard (SRS);
  • Every child in Australia is entitled to an equal amount of base funding - $8000 for primary students and $10,500 for secondary students;
  • Imbalances in funding between federal and state governments should be redressed, giving the two levels of government equal responsibility for funding state, Catholic and independent schools; and
  • Future funding arrangements and governance structures for schooling should aim for sustained improvements in the educational outcomes of disadvantaged students as part of achieving better outcomes for all students.

The Australian Government has commenced a consultation phase to discuss the findings with key education stakeholders before making a commitment to the 26 findings and 41 recommendations.

During the conversation with parents and teachers at Our Lady of the Rosary, the Prime Minister said that her focus was on improving learning outcomes of all students.

“We will have conversations with school communities about funding but when we make our ultimate decision we will be driven by a number of principles and key to those principles is better results, continuous improvement and lifting quality,” Ms Gillard said.

“We will be working with education stakeholders, schools, school communities, and states and territories because the Gonski review looks at all students in all schools.”

Greg Whitby, Executive Director of Schools in the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta, said discussion about improving student learning outcomes needed to focus on improving teacher quality.

“The Prime Minister is right on the money, saying school funding only goes so far,” Greg said. “All schools need to focus on improving the learning outcomes of their students and the only way to achieve better learning is to work on improving teacher quality in all schools and all sectors.”

The National Catholic Education Commission (NCEC) has responded to the Gonski report saying it strongly supports calls for additional funding for all students, particularly disadvantaged students, and that it will be working with the Australian Government during the consultation phase.

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