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

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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...

New government report on non-government school funding

A new Department of Employment, Education and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) report shows that in 2009 the Australian Government provided $6.3 billion to non-government schools. Of this funding, $5.8 billion was made available as recurrent per capita grants under the SES system of funding for non-government schools, which is currently under review as part of the Government’s wider Review of Funding for Schooling. On average, this equated to $4963 per non-government school student.Breaking this funding down by non-government school sector (Catholic systemic schools and all other non-government schools), Catholic systemic schools received 60.2 per cent of Australian Government recurrent per capit... Read more...

How do school systems improve?

A new report, which so far does not appear to have received much attention but is certainly deserving of more consideration, is How the World’s Most Improved School Systems Keep Getting Better. This report from McKinsey & Co. builds on the work of an earlier report, How the World’s Best-Performing School Systems Come Out on Top (2007), which examined the common attributes of ‘excellent’ school systems.This time 20 significantly ‘improving’ school systems, as measured by national and international standards of assessment, and which are at different stages across a performance spectrum (from poor to excellent), were examined to see what reform interventions are working—in all some 575 refo... Read more...

Australian Government funding for schools

A recently published Background Note from the Parliamentary Library shows that Australian Government funding for schools will increase in real terms (in 2008–09 dollars) from $6.9 billion in 1999–00 to $11.5 billion in 2011–12. This means that funding for government schools will increase from $2.8 billion to $4.4 billion and, for non-government schools, from $4.2 billion to $7.1 billion.Usually, most of the funding increases for schools are the result of indexation. The remainder is from increases in student numbers and new money as the result of government policy initiatives. However, the Building the Economic Revolution (BER) economic stimulus measures, (amounting to $16.2 billion), has re... Read more...

Building the Education Revolution – Private Member’s Bill

The Opposition has introduced a Private Member’s Bill to establish a judicial Commission of Inquiry into the Building the Education Revolution (BER). The Bill is the result of ongoing complaints and concerns about the BER’s administration and implementation. It also comes amidst a number of other BER inquiries and reports into various aspects of the BER’s operation, the chief focus of which has been the Primary Schools for the 21st Century (P21) element of the BER. If the Bill is passed, the Commission of Inquiry would become the fifth BER inquiry or report at the national level.In effect, if the Bill is passed, it would enact a recommendation of the interim report of the Senate committee in... Read more...

Building the Education Revolution

The Building the Education Revolution (BER) Implementation Taskforce today released its interim report, finding that while quality infrastructure has been delivered within the required timeframes, project costs in some areas have been substantially higher than would have been the case before the BER.The Taskforce was set up to examine complaints about BER projects and whether the projects are delivering 'value for money'. Its main focus has been the Primary Schools for the 21st Century (P21) element of the BER.The Taskforce found that many of the reported problems have to do with the BER's aim to provide quick economic stimulus as part of the Labor Government’s strategy to counter the effect... Read more...