THE federal government has an a simple way to stop speculation about future school funding models – it just needs to announce it.
More than six months after the Gonski schools funding review was tabled, legislation is yet to be tabled in parliament.
The lack of action is leading to greater uncertainty and speculation about which school sector will win and, more importantly, which will lose.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard yesterday used a speech to the Independent Schools National Forum in Canberra to promise that every school in Australia would see a funding increase under the government’s response.
Yet, the detail is yet to be delivered.
There’s two certain implications of the Prime Minister’s comments yesterday.
Firstly, many hundreds of millions of extra dollars will need to be found in the federal budget under the new model and secondly, not everyone will be happy.
Many will complain that aligning school funding with performance, as has also been suggested, will only further divide the haves and have nots in the community. The traditionally successful schools will reap even more rewards.
The controversy which surrounds school funding is heightened in cities such as Ballarat.
The education sector is highly competitive and there is grudging respect – and often envy – between state and private sectors.
While the discussion regarding the implementation of the Gonski review revolves almost entirely around money, a model which provides better choice and information to parents of school children both now and the future regarding education offerings must be the end goal.
To be able to offer your child the best opportunities to learn must not be a decision based solely on economics.
There’s few people who will disagree, although there’s a considerable gap in the rhetoric from the major political parties, meaning a parliamentary agreement might be more difficult to enshrine.
Opposition leader Tony Abbot is questioning both the debt levels and the need to change from the current model.
If legislation is approved, the government will be thanked for its investment in improving education. Bridging the gap in educational opportunities – surely the ultimate goal – is something that would live on past the next election cycle.