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Flagpost is a blog on current issues of interest to members of the Australian Parliament

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Australian Government funding for schools

There is much anticipation about the future of school funding with the Australian Government’s proposed new arrangements for school funding expected to be presented to the Council of Australian Governments’ meeting in April this year. The proposed changes will follow on from the recommendations of the final report of the Review of Funding for Schooling (the Gonski Review).The Labor Government took its first steps towards reforming school education funding when, in 2009, it transformed a funding structure that in essence had been in place since 1974. It created a single National Schools Specific Purpose Payment (SPP), which provides most of the Australian Government’s funding for schools. The... Read more...

Australia’s performance in international student achievement tests – another perspective

There has been considerable public discussion about Australia’s relatively poor performance in recently released international student achievement tests, with one newspaper describing the results as ‘Australia’s disaster in education’. These results have also called into question the Government’s aim to be in the top five countries on reading, mathematics and science by 2025. But just how bad are these results?The results released on Tuesday 11 December by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) are the 2011 outcomes from the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement’s Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and the Progress ... Read more...

Australia in the Asian Century: Asian studies in schools

The White Paper, Australia in the Asian Century, commits all governments to improving access to Asian studies in schools through the Australian Government’s National Plan for School Improvement. The Prime Minister has announced that Asian studies will be embedded across the Australian Curriculum, students will have access to at least one priority language (Mandarin, Hindi, Indonesian and Japanese), and all schools will ‘engage with’ at least one school in Asia to support teaching of a priority Asian language. History of Australian Government support for Asian studies in schoolsThe White Paper’s proposals for Asian studies in schools are not entirely new. The history of Australian Governme... Read more...

PISA – more than just league tables?

In announcing the Government’s response to the Gonski Review, Prime Minister Gillard statedthat the aim of the new National Plan for School Improvement ‘is to ensure that by 2025 Australia is ranked as a top 5 country in the world for the performance of our students in Reading, Science, Mathematics’.Much of the discussion about the Australian school system has focussed on the relative (and absolute) decline of Australia in the results from the triennial Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) over the period 2000 to 2009 despite an increase in real expenditure on school education of 44 per cent over the period. In considering how the school system can be improved, commentators ... Read more...

‘Better schools’ – the Government responds to Gonski

The Australian Government through its National Plan for School Improvement, under the banner of Better Schools, has accepted the core recurrent funding recommendations of the Review of Funding for Schooling (the Gonski Review).The National Plan outlines a new funding model that will have a Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) for all school students supported by various loadings for disadvantage. This funding model will take place alongside an improvement framework for schools and teaching, with an overarching goal of ensuring that by 2025 Australia is ranked amongst the top five countries in the world for student performance in reading, science and mathematics. In total, the Government expects... Read more...

More funding for all schools—an update on Gonski

The Government’s previous commitment that no school would lose a dollar in funding per student has been extended. The Prime Minister and the Minister for School Education, Peter Garrett, have announced that all schools will receive increased funding under the Government’s new plans for school funding. Peter Garrett has also confirmed that funding will be increased in real terms. This newly announced commitment follows the release on the News Limited website of a list of 3254 schools (about one-third of all schools) that would lose funding. State governments and non-government education authorities used data provided by the Australian Government for their modelling to calculate funding for in... Read more...

Staying on at school is not just a matter of money

  There is considerable evidence about the correlation between socio-economic status (SES)–particularly parental income, education and occupation–and educational attainment. Hence the inclusion of a measure of SES on the Myschool website, which allows for the comparison of ‘SES-equivalent’ schools, and higher education institutions receiving funding on the basis of meeting targets for the representation of students from low SES backgrounds. While traditional SES measures may allow for comparisons or targets, they provide little guidance to policy makers on how to overcome such disadvantage–it is generally not possible to change the education level of a student’s parent for example. However... Read more...

'Brave new world'? The Gonski Review of Funding for Schooling

The report of the Review of Funding for Schooling (the Gonski Review) is a blueprint for a major overhaul of federal and state funding for school education. It has proposed a fundamental realignment of the historic funding roles of the Australian and state and territory governments that would see both levels of government provide more balanced funding to government and non-government schools. Significantly, the Gonski Review believes that its proposals will meet the Australian Government’s commitment that ‘no school would lose a dollar per student’. Through its initial response, the Australian Government has set itself an ambitious agenda for change, with the Prime Minister aiming to introdu... Read more...

Changes to the National School Chaplaincy Program

As foreshadowed in a previous FlagPost, the Minister for School Education, Peter Garrett has announced changes to the National School Chaplaincy Program (NSCP). From 2012, the NSCP will be transformed into the National School Chaplaincy and Student Welfare Program. Schools will be able to employ ‘either a chaplain or a secular student welfare worker’ and tighter administrative controls will be introduced. This announcement appears to have appeased some of the NCSP’s proponents and addressed some of the concerns raised by its critics.The NSCP’s expansion and the introduction of minimum qualifications, benchmark standards for service providers, and improvements to the complaints management sys... Read more...

School chaplains

In August, the High Court will hear Queensland parent Ron Williams’ constitutional challenge to the validity of the National School Chaplaincy Program (NSCP). The Commonwealth Ombudsman is also investigating the NSCP as a result of a recommendation made by the Northern Territory Ombudsman in her report on the NSCP’s operation in the Northern Territory (NT). The NSCP is a voluntary program (for schools and teachers), providing up to $20 000 per annum to government and non-government schools to establish school chaplaincy services or augment existing services. The NSCP website explains the purpose and ambit of the program:This voluntary program assists schools and their communities to support ... Read more...