LABOR has set its sights on making education a key to its election platform, announcing it would fully fund the last four years of the Gonski agreement.
The party has also pledged, if it wins power, to reverse the $30 billion reduction to school funding over the next decade revealed by the Coalition in its 2014 budget.
Ballarat MP Catherine King visited Magpie Primary School on Friday to discuss the announcement with staff.
The school’s principal Peter Clifton said the previous funding of the reforms had allowed for a lot of work to be conducted on classrooms.
He said aside form the infrastructure improvements the school was able to do, it also gave students the opportunity to excel in areas they previously might not have been able to.
“It is 16 per cent in our budget,” he said. “It gives students a chance.”
“It is giving this community a hand to get a better education, who knows where that is going to go in 20 years.”
Mr Clifton said the Gonski funding had allowed the school to spend almost $40,000 on improving learning environments around the school and making them more inviting places to be.
“Without that money you just can’t do it, it will be a less inviting environment,” he said.
“I need to be able to sit down with my staff and say this is not a one year, one shot wonder. This is a four year plan.”
Ms King said a lot of the community was disappointed in the lack of a commitment from the Coalition to fully fund the Gonski reforms.
“It (the funding) is absolutely critical to provide the schools with the resources to be able to make sure they are meeting the needs of all their students,” she said.
“If we do not resource these schools properly we will be left behind and these kids will be left behind and these kids deserve the full Gonski funding.
“On the ground it means they can employ more teachers, teacher assistants to help teachers or they can fund other resources like specialists to come into classes.
“We know that there are many schools with children with special needs who have a disability or have some disadvantage, that is really meaning their educational outcomes are not what they could be. We know schools are desperate for resources so each and every child can learn to their fullest capacity and right now they don’t have the resources to do that.”
Education Minister Simon Birmingham said the Coalition would negotiate new four-year funding deals for 2018 onwards with the states.
"Unlike the Labor Party, we won't be tricked into thinking that just spending more money automatically improves results," he said.
"What we will do is make sure that any funding commitments the Turnbull government make are commitments driven by how you improve student outcomes, by how you actually get the best results in the classroom from students.”