Rudd/Gillard Governments' school funding reforms
The recommendations of the Gonski Report were the basis for the
Rudd/Gillard Governments' National Plan for School Improvement (NPSI). With the
enactment of the Australian Education Act 2013, NPSI funding commenced
on 1 January 2014. This chapter outlines the elements of NPSI, its planned
implementation, and the transition from the previous funding model to
arrangements under NPSI.
The purpose of this chapter is to provide an outline of the changes to
school funding arrangements which were initiated by the Gonski Report findings.
The following chapter mirrors this in providing a similar outline of the
current Abbott Government's Students First policy as a continuation of reforms
to school funding arrangements.
The National Plan for School Improvement
The NPSI was developed by the previous government in consultation with
state and territory education ministers. It sought to establish a new national
needs-based, sector‑blind school funding model linked to reforms with the
aim of moving Australian schools into the top five in the world by 2025.
The reforms proposed under NPSI focused on five main areas:
empowered school leadership;
meeting student need; and
greater transparency and accountability.
In relation to the 'quality teaching' reform area, under the NPSI it was
All teacher education courses would need to meet new national
requirements and be accredited against new national standards for initial
teacher education courses by 2015;
All new teachers would need to be in the top 30 per cent of the
population for literacy and numeracy before they could graduate;
Student teachers would have more practical classroom experience
before they could graduate;
There would be extra support for new teachers during their first
two years of teaching;
There would be a new national approach for admission into
teaching courses that would recognise the personal qualities needed for
teaching as well as academic achievement;
Every teacher would have an annual performance assessment from
2014 as a new Australian Teacher Performance and Development Framework was
All teachers would have access to ongoing training throughout
In the 'quality learning' reform area it was proposed that:
By 2016 all school would have implemented that Australian
Curriculum in all learning areas from Foundation to Year 10, and by 2018 for
Years 11 and 12;
There would be a three-year 'national reading blitz' focussing on
improving literacy skills for students between Foundation and Year 3;
Students would have greater access to vocational learning;
Students would have more opportunities to learn about our region,
including its languages and cultures; and
Students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 would take part in an annual
science test as part of the NAPLAN tests.
In the 'empowered school leadership' reform area it was proposed that:
Principals be given more power to make decisions over the way
they run their schools;
Principals would be responsible for leading the development of an
annual School Improvement Plan; and
There would be a new Principals' Performance and Development
Framework to help support principal selection and development.
In the 'meeting student need' reform area it was proposed that:
The new school funding system would be based on the needs of
Schools would need to provide more information to parents and
families to help them support their child's education;
Schools would focus on improving support for indigenous students;
Schools would have a greater focus on high performing students;
Every school would have a Safe School Plan to prevent bullying.
transparency and accountability
In the 'greater transparency and accountability' reform area it was
The 'My School' website would provide parents with more
information about their child's school;
An Australian School Performance Institute would be established
to collect better data about school performance and provide expert help to
schools and school systems to help them improve results; and
A comprehensive national education data programme would be
developed to improve national data quality, consistency and collection.
Implementing the new funding model
The NPSI was designed to create a national approach to school funding by
adopting a needs-based Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) that would apply to
all students, irrespective of whether they attend government or non‑government
schools. The Australian Education Bill 2013 underpinned the provision of
Australian Government funding to states and territories, as well as
non-government schools. Gaining Royal Assent on 27 June 2013, the Australian
Education Act 2013 provided for states and territories to receive recurrent
funding provided that they were party to the National Education Reform
Agreement (NERA) and had signed a bilateral agreement with the Australian
arrangements under the NPSI
A summary of the intergovernmental arrangements with participating,
non-participating and non-government schools is provided at Figure 6 below.
For government schools, the NPSI was to be established by an
agreement—the National Education Reform Agreement (NERA)—signed by the Prime
Minister and Premiers and Chief Ministers in participating states.
In addition to this overarching agreement (signed by all participating State
and Territory Governments) there would be bilateral agreements between the
Commonwealth and each individual State and Territory Government.
Each State and Territory would also be required to develop an implementation
plan to outline how the national reforms will be supported across all
government schools in their system.
Government schools in States and Territories that did not enter into the
NERA ('non-participating states') would continue to be funded by the Australian
Government under a modified version of the existing system of funding. Non‑participating
states would still be expected to engage in key national reforms and have
school improvements plans.
Further detail about the status of agreements between the Commonwealth
and the States and Territories is provided below.
Non-government schools are not party to the National Education Reform
Agreement. Non-government school systems (like the Catholic school system in
each jurisdiction) were asked to commit to the NPSI through memorandums of understanding
setting out their implementation plans. In the case of individual (non‑systemic)
independent schools, the school improvement plan for each school would outline
the schools planned activities and/or reforms under the NPSI.
There was no option for non-government schools to continue to receive
funding under previous arrangements.
Under these arrangements all schools (government and non-government)
would be required to have an annual school improvement plan, developed in
consultation with parents and the community. These plans would outline the
steps a school would take to improve student results under the national reforms
and would be publicly available, thus working towards the goal of transparency
and accountability under NPSI.
Figure 6—Summary of arrangements under the National Plan for
The Schooling Resource
The Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) is the central component of the
NPSI's needs-based school funding model. The Gonski Review argued that:
Australia needs effective arrangements for funding schools
across all levels of government—arrangements that ensure resources are being
provided where they are needed. The funding arrangements should be aimed at
achieving an internationally competitive high standard of schooling, where
outcomes are not determined by socioeconomic status or the type of school the
child attends, and where the Australian Government and state and territory
governments work in partnership to meet the schooling needs of all Australian
To further this funding aim, the Gonski Panel recommended that all
recurrent school funding whether from the state/territory governments or the
Australian Government, be based on an SRS. The SRS would:
form the basis for general recurrent funding for all students in
all schooling sectors
consist of separate per student amounts for primary school
students and secondary school students
provide loadings for the additional costs of meeting certain
educational needs. These loadings would take into account socioeconomic
background, disability, English language proficiency, the particular needs of
Indigenous students, school size, and school location
be based on actual resources used by schools already achieving
high educational outcomes for their students over a sustained period of time
recognise that schools with similar student populations require
the same level of resources regardless of whether they are located in the
government, Catholic or independent school sectors
be periodically reviewed every four years so that it continues to
reflect community aspirations and, in between reviews, be indexed using a
simple measure that is based on the actual increase in costs in schools already
achieving the relevant high educational outcomes over a sustained period of
Figure 7 below provides a graphical representation of the SRS.
Figure 7—Schooling Resource Standard (SRS)
The base SRS per student amount referred to in Figure 7 above is, as
stated in the NERA, the per student funding amount represents the
recurrent resources required to support a student with minimal educational
disadvantage. The system will deliver a per-student level of funding based on
current funding levels for high-achieving, efficient schools. The Gonski Review
defined these schools as 'those were at least 80 per cent of students are
achieving above the national minimum standard, for their year level, in both
reading and numeracy, across each of the three years 2008 to 2010'.
Recommendation 9 of the Gonski Review, used '...across each of the three most
recent years of NAPLAN results'.
For 2014, the per student funding amounts are $9271 per primary school
student and $12 193 per secondary school student.
School funding payments to states and territories under the Australian
Education Act 2013 began in 2014. The Department of Education explained in
the workings of the Act and the SRS in its submission:
The model uses a range of student characteristic and school
data to calculate a school’s funding entitlement. This data includes enrolment
numbers, school location, the number of students from low SES backgrounds, the
number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, the number of
students who have limited ELP and the number of students with disability. It
also involves consideration of each school’s capacity to contribute. The
capacity to contribute percentage for government, special, special assistance,
majority Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and sole provider schools is set
at zero, which means that those schools are fully funded by government.
Non-government schools attract a capacity to contribute percentage reflecting
their school community’s capacity to support the operation of their school
measured by SES score, which determines the ratio of public to private funding.
The first payments to states and territories under the Act were made on
7 January 2014:
...representing approximately $4.7 billion to 837 approved
authorities representing 9,435 schools:
- $398 million for the first of 12 monthly payments for 6,708
- $2.6 billion for 50 per cent upfront payments to 1,655
- $1.7 billion for 50 per cent upfront payments to 1072
Further payments to non-government schools are generally made
in July (25 per cent) and October (25 per cent plus any enrolment adjustments).
Funding for government schools will be provided to states and territories
Under the NPSI, the SRS benchmark was to be indexed by 3.6 per cent
annually with an independent review of indexation arrangements to be completed
by March 2015, as set out in the NERA.
In evidence at the committee's public hearing on 13 March, Mr Cook advised
that the planned reviews on loadings and indexation would be conducted, and
that the Abbott Government would use the reviews to work with states and
territories on arrangements post 2017.
Further discussion on indexation rates post-2017 and the consultation with
participating states and territories is in Chapters 6-8.
Per student funding amount
The per student funding amounts for government school students will be
fully government funded.
The government contribution to the per student funding amounts for most
non-government schools is adjusted according to a school's 'capacity to
contribute'. The measure is based on a school's socioeconomic status (SES)
score that takes into account parent contributions and other sources of private
As outlined in Figure 8 below, a non-government school's SES score
determines its capacity to contribute as a percentage of the per student
those non-government schools with the lowest SES scores (93 or
less) will be deemed to contribute 10 per cent of the per student funding
amounts for primary and secondary students;
those non-government schools with the highest SES scores (125 or
greater) will be deemed to contribute 80 per cent of the per student funding
for those non-government schools with an SES score between 93 and
125, the capacity to contribute will range along a continuum between 10 per
cent and 80 per cent of the per student amount. The percentage amounts in
between the two end points, however, will be different for primary and secondary
schools with the same SES score.
Figure 8—Capacity to contribute arrangements for
Non-government schools exempt from the 'capacity to
Certain categories of non-government schools will be exempt from the
'capacity to contribute' requirement. As a result their per student funding
amounts will be fully government-funded. These schools are:
special schools—schools that cater for students with
Special Assistance Schools—schools that cater for students with
social, emotional or behavioural difficulties;
majority Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI)
schools—schools with 80 per cent or more ATSI student enrolments or, for very
remote schools or schools with students from very remote areas, 50 per cent or
more ATSI enrolments; and
sole-provider schools—schools in remote or very remote areas or
with students from these areas that are located more than 25 kilometres from
another school that provides the same level of education.
Loadings for disadvantage
There are six loadings which will be added to the base per student SRS
amount to meet the additional needs of disadvantaged students and schools:
low socio-economic status students;
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students;
students with low English language proficiency;
students with disability;
school size; and
Each of these loadings has a particular funding formula and the loadings
will be fully government-funded.
The continued development of the loadings under the Students First policy is
discussed further in Chapter 6.
Low socio-economic status students
The loading for low socio-economic status students is calculated as
follows and represented by Figure 9 below:
For students in socio-educational advantage (SEA) Quartile 1 – a
loading ranging from 15 per cent of the per student amount for each Q1 student
to 50 per cent of the per student amount for each Q1 student in a school
where 75 per cent or more of students are in Q1; and
For students in SEA Quartile 2 – a loading ranging from 7.5 per
cent of the per student amount for each Q2 student to 37.5 per cent of the per
student amount for each Q2 student where 75 per cent or more of the students
are in Q2.
Figure 9–Low Socio-Economic
Aboriginal and Torres Strait
The loading for students from Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander
backgrounds ranges from 20 per cent of the per student amount for the first
Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background student up to 120 per cent of
the per student amount for each Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background
student in a school where 100 per cent of students are from Aboriginal or
Torres Strait Islander backgrounds.
A graphic representation of the loading is below:
Figure 10–Indigenous Student Loading
Students with low English language
The National Education Reform Agreement provides for an interim loading
for students with low English language proficiency of ten per cent of the per
student amount for each disadvantaged student with a language background other
than English – up to an unspecified capped funding amount.
Students with disability
The National Education Reform Agreement provides for an interim loading
in 2014 of 186 per cent of the per student amount for each student with
disability (with a new nationally consistent student with disability loading
proposed to be available from 2015).
Discussion of the work being undertaken to implement a permanent loading for
disability is in Chapter 8.
School size loading
As outlined in Figure 8 below, the school size loading is calculated as
$150 000 for primary schools with up to 200 enrolments, tapering
to zero for schools with 300 enrolments and above. For schools with less than
15 students, the size loading ranges from $10 000 up to $150 000 based on
enrolments and remoteness;
$240 000 for secondary schools with up to 500 enrolments,
tapering to zero for schools with 700 enrolments and above. For schools with
less than 100 students, the size loading ranges from $20 000 up to $240 000
based on enrolments and remoteness; and
the loading for combined schools is based on a weighted average
of primary and secondary students.
Figure 11—School Size Loading
School location loading
The Accessibility/Remoteness Index of Australia (ARIA) classifications
are used to calculate the school location loading. ARIA measures remoteness on
a continuous scale (ranging from 0 to 15) with scores based on road distance to
service towns of different sizes. As outlined in Figure 9 below, the school
location loading is calculated as a percentage of the per student amount as
Inner regional schools – up to 10 per cent;
Outer regional schools – between 10 and 30 per cent;
Remote schools – between 30 and 70 per cent; and
Very remote schools – between 70 and 80 per cent.
Figure 12—School Location Loading
Funding under the NPSI
Under the NERA, State and Territory Governments commit to maintaining
their 'baseline' (existing) recurrent funding levels indexed by an agreed
The Rudd/Gillard Governments committed to index its baseline recurrent funding
amount by 4.7 per cent. When signing the NERA the New South Wales, South
Australian and ACT Governments agreed to a 3 per cent indexation rate for their
baseline recurrent funding contributions.
In addition to maintaining their baseline recurrent funding with
indexation, all governments that are party to the NERA agree to contribute an
additional amount to ensure all schools are at least funded at 95 per cent of
their SRS by 2019. The total additional amount is the difference between the
projected total SRS amount for 2019, including the amount represented by
non-government schools' capacity to contribute, and the projected total
Commonwealth, State and Territory Government baseline recurrent funding for
Under the NERA the additional funding is to be shared between the
Commonwealth and participating States and Territories at a ratio of 65:35,
subject to transitional arrangements.
Under the NERA, the additional funding is phased in over six years from
2014 to 2019, with the transitional arrangements for each State and Territory
finalised through the bilateral agreements.
If the States, Territories and the Commonwealth followed the funding
plan set out in the 2013-14 Federal Budget, most of the additional funding
would be provided in the last two years of the transition period. The 2013-14 Budget
indicated that $2.8 billion (28.6 per cent) of the Rudd/Gillard
Governments' original share of the additional funding would be provided from
2013-14 to 2016-17, meaning the remaining 71.4 per cent would be provided
in 2017-18 and 2018-19 financial years.
Schools currently funded at their Schooling Resource
Under the NERA, schools that are already funded at their SRS level or
above will maintain their current level of funding with a smaller indexation
rate than the general 3.6 per cent indexation rate for the SRS. These
maintenance arrangements will continue until their SRS amount catches up with
their actual funding level.
A school is considered to be funded above its SRS amount if its 2011 net
recurrent income per student, as recorded on the My School website, projected
to a 2013 funding amount plus 3 per cent is greater than its assessed SRS
amount for 2014.
The Rudd/Gillard Governments agreed to index the funding for these
schools by 3 per cent. State and Territory Governments would commit to
similar maintenance arrangements under the NERA, however the actual indexation
rates for State and Territory Governments are outlined in the bilateral
agreements with the Commonwealth Government.
Further detail about the status of agreements between the Commonwealth Government
and the participating States and Territories Governments is provided below.
Arrangements with non-government schools
As noted above, under the Australian Education Act 2013, all non‑government
schools are required to participate in the National Plan for School Improvement
in order receive Commonwealth funding. Negotiations were held with the Catholic
and independent school sectors in order to agree on the details of how the Plan
would be implemented.
In considering the arrangements discussed below, it is useful to note
that Commonwealth funding to non-government schools may either be:
distributed to individual schools through a system (for example
the Catholic education commissions in each State or Territory distributes funds
to individual schools within their system); or
provided to individual non-government schools (this is usually
the case with independent schools).
For non-government schools, the Australian Education Act 2013
replaced the Schools Assistance Act 2008.
On 23 July 2013, the National Catholic Education Commission (NCEC)
announced that all State and Territory Catholic Education Commissions had
committed to the Better Schools Plan. The NCEC stated that it was confident
that no school would be worse off and that the funding arrangements would
deliver significant increases over time for every child in the Catholic system.
It was announced that the agreement would result in approximately
$1.6 billion in additional funding to 1650 Catholic systemic schools over
At the same time the Archdiocese of Sydney stated that:
One of the biggest sticking points between the Catholic
education sector and the government was the [Australian Education Act 2013].
This required the distribution of funding to individual schools transferred
from Australia's Catholic school systems to Canberra.
It also allowed for present and future federal education
ministers to directly intervene in individual school management.
However...under the agreement announced today the Catholic
education sector will maintain their autonomy and ability to distribute funds
to the schools they manage and run according to local need.
Mr Ian Baker, the Director of Policy and Programs at the Catholic
Education Commission of New South Wales stated that:
We have reached a high level of agreement to move forward.
Now comes the implementation of plans and issues to be negotiated at a state
level with further negotiations and details to be worked on constructively and
The Archdiocese of Sydney noted that the 'next stage is to create a road
map for implementation which includes Catholic Education Commissions finalising
state‑based implementation plans and negotiating their own individual MoU
agreements with the Commonwealth.'
There is little information currently on the public record in relation
to progress made in relation to state-based implementation plans and MoUs.
Although on 25 November 2013 the Federal Minister for Education stated
that the MoU between the Commonwealth and systemic Catholic schools was
New South Wales
The Catholic Education Commission of New South Wales has released
information about 2014 funding arrangements for Catholic systemic schools in
NSW. In a letter dated 5 December 2013 the Commonwealth Department of Education
outlines the funding arrangements which:
recognises that the Catholic Education Commission of NSW will
maintain autonomy over funding distribution within its system in accordance
with the requirements of the Australian Education Act 2013 (the Act);
notes that the Commission's documented needs-based funding
arrangement would align with the requirements of the Act.
In relation to Western Australia, the NCEC stated that:
Catholic education in Western Australia has unique needs and
two outstanding funding issues remain unresolved. Catholic education in Western
Australia will continue discussions with the Australian Government to ensure
funding reflects the needs of students and schools in Western Australia.
There is no information currently on the public record to indicate the
nature of the two unresolved funding issues or how they were resolved.
On 10 July 2013 the Independent Schools Council of Australia (ISCA)
announced that agreement had been reached with the Rudd/Gillard Governments in
relation to the Better Schools Plan.
It was announced that more than $1 billion in additional funding would
flow to Australian independent schools over six years.
ISCA stated that independent schools would only receive the maximum benefits
from the model if all States and Territories sign agreements with the
As noted above, Commonwealth funding is usually provided to individual
independent schools, rather than a 'system' as is the case with government and
Catholic schools. In this regard Independent Schools Victoria noted that
neither they nor ISCA are able to sign agreements with the Australian
Government on behalf of individual schools.
The only agreement between independent schools and the Commonwealth will be
each school's School Improvement Plan.
Funding for government
schools in non-participating States or Territories
As outlined above, government schools in States and Territories that are
signatories to the NERA and all non-government schools will be funded
under the NPSI. However, Commonwealth financial assistance for government
schools in non‑participating States and Territories will be paid through
a separate national specific purpose payment.
The amount of financial assistance that is payable to these States and
Territories is determined by reference to the amount those States and
Territories received for 2013 through the national specific purpose payment for
schools under the Federal Financial Relations Act 2009. This amount may
be indexed each year, following a determination by the Minister as to the
Non-participating schools (i.e. government schools in non-participating
States and Territories) would not have been not eligible to receive the
additional funding on offer through the NPSI.
Although not participating in the NPSI funding arrangements, non‑participating
State and Territory Governments are still required to agree to implement
national policy initiatives for school education to receive Australian
Accountability and transparency
In outlining its key recommendations to create a needs-based,
sector-blind funding model, the Gonski Report emphasised that the SRS on which
the model was based should 'be transparent, defensible and equitable and be
capable of application across all sectors and systems'.
The NPSI captured the need for transparency and accountability in delivering
needs-based funding in its five areas of reform: Quality Teaching, Quality Learning,
Empowered School Leadership, Meeting Student Need, and Transparency and
Transparency and accountability are also listed amongst the objects of the Australian
Education Act 2013, which, as detailed below, provides the conditions for
implementing the significant transparency and accountability mechanisms.
For those government school systems that enter into the NERA, the Australian
Education Act 2013 (the Act) replaces the school funding arrangements
provided through the Federal Financial Relations Act 2009, the
Intergovernmental Agreement on Federal Financial Relations and the National
For those government school systems not participating in the NERA, the Australian
Education Act 2013 amended the school funding arrangements in the existing
legislation and agreements as mentioned above to provide a modified version of
the current funding system.
for accountability and transparency mechanisms
These financial reporting requirements were designed to provide
transparency in ensuring that funding reached individual schools. In this
regard, all parties to the NERA agree to transparency of school funding
Publication on the 'My School' website of the Schooling Resource
Standard (SRS) model and SRS for each school system and, from 2016 the system
funding model and system-calculated entitlements for that system and every
school, disaggregated by base and loading entitlements and Commonwealth, State
and Territory, and private income for each school; and
A COAG Council of Treasurers annual report on compliance by all
participating jurisdictions in relation to commitments about the maintenance of
funding effort and additional funding.
One signatory to the NERA, New South Wales, has recently published its
2014 needs-based Resource Allocation Model allocations under the equity
loadings for socio-economic and Aboriginal backgrounds for each NSW public
Conditions of financial assistance
As noted above, under the Act all government and non-government school
authorities will have to sign an agreement whereby they agree to implement the
NPSI national school reform agenda and meet financial and other accountability
requirements to receive Australian Government funding.
Ongoing policy requirements
An approved authority under the Act
must implement the following policy requirements:
enhancing principal and teacher performance and professional
implementation of the Australian Teacher Performance and
Development Framework; and
providing access to ongoing professional development consistent
with the Australian Charter for the Professional Learning of Teachers and
implementing the Australian Curriculum or a curriculum with
comparable outcomes recognised by Australian Curriculum, Assessment and
Reporting Authority (ACARA);
ensuring its schools participate in the National Assessment
Program and provide data collected from those assessments;
the authority has a school improvement framework; and
each of its schools develops, implements, publishes and reviews a
school improvement plan;
ensuring that it complies, and that each of its schools complies,
with the relevant disability discrimination laws of the Commonwealth and state
required by the Australian Education Regulation 2013.
Failure to comply with the Act
The Minister may take action against a State or Territory if an approved
authority fails to comply with the Act.
There are several instances where the Minister may take action:
A State or Territory fails to comply with the conditions of
An approved authority for one or more schools located in the
State or Territory fails to comply with the basic and ongoing requirements for
approval (see above); and
An approved authority breaches a condition to which the
authority's approval is subject.
Possible actions for failure to
If the Minister determines that an authority or body has been
non-compliant with, or has breached the Act, the Minister may take any one or
more of the following actions:
determine in writing that the State or Territory pay to the
Commonwealth a specified amount;
determine in writing that the amount of financial assistance that
is payable to the State or Territory under the Act is reduced by a specified
delay making any further payment (or a part of a further payment)
to the State or Territory under the Act for a year until:
there is a rectification of the non-compliance, breach or
the overpayment, amount of recoverable payment or unpaid amount
Where the circumstance giving rise to a debt was the responsibility of
the State or Territory (as in the case of an overpayment to a State for its
government schools), the State or Territory must make the payment itself.
However, where the circumstance giving rise to a debt was the
responsibility of an approved authority, block grant authority, or
non-government representative body in relation to a non-government school, the
State or Territory may either assign to the Commonwealth its right to recover
the debt (and the Commonwealth must accept any such assignment), or promptly
recover the debt from the authority or body.
individual States and Territories
In return for additional funding, the Rudd/Gillard Governments required
every State and Territory to sign up to the new national education reforms and:
stop education funding cuts and freezes, including maintaining
current school spending and committing to three per cent annual growth on an
ongoing basis; and
provide their 35 per cent share of the additional funding
required to move the schools in their State or Territory up towards the
Schooling Resource Standard.
For a State or Territory to fully conclude a bilateral agreement with
the Commonwealth it was required that they both:
sign a Heads of Agreement (HoA) with the Commonwealth which
detailed the funding arrangements and education reforms for their jurisdiction
(in addition, by signing a HoA the jurisdiction was in effect signing the
National Education Reform Agreement (NERA)); and
draw up an implementation plan to outline how the national
reforms would be supported across all government schools in their system (once
the implementation plan had been agreed with the Commonwealth the agreement
process would be finalised and the HoA would become a bilateral agreement and
be published as a schedule to the NERA).
Table 6 provides a summary of arrangements reached with each State and
Territory prior to the 2013 federal election. Further information about the
status of arrangements with all jurisdictions is provided in the following
Table 6—Summary of
arrangements under the National Plan for School Improvement
Date signed HoA
Bilateral agreement finalised?
23 April 2013
30 May 2013
14 June 2013
9 July 2013
4 August 2013
New South Wales
On 23 April 2013 New South Wales became the first State to agree to the
previous government's national education reforms.
It was announced that the agreement would provide New South Wales
schools with additional investment totalling $5 billion over six years. As
required by the NERA, the Commonwealth would contribute 65 per cent ($3.27
billion) and New South Wales would contribute 35 per cent ($1.761 billion).
The Commonwealth committed to index its school education spending by
4.7 per cent per annum from 2014 into 2015 and throughout the agreement.
New South Wales agreed to index its school education spending by 3 per cent per
annum from 2016 onwards.
The transitional arrangements agreed between the Commonwealth and New
South Wales would result in funding for NSW schools reaching at least 95 per
cent of the Schooling Resource Standard in 2019.
A copy of the Heads of Agreement between the Commonwealth and New South
Wales is publicly available.
New South Wales developed an implementation plan which was agreed with the
Commonwealth and thus the NPSI agreement process between New South Wales and
the Commonwealth has been fully concluded.
Education Amendment (Non-Government School Funding) Act
On 29 October 2013, the New South Wales Minister for Education
introduced the Education Amendment (Non-Government School Funding) Bill 2013
into the NSW Parliament. The bill passed both Houses and was assented to on
20 November 2013.
The Act facilitates the provision of financial assistance to
non-government schools in New South Wales, in accordance with the State's
obligations under the NERA (or any future Commonwealth-State agreement on
financial assistance in respect of non-government school children).
In his second reading speech on the bill, the New South Wales Minister
for Education noted that the agreement reached with the Commonwealth would
result in an estimated $790 million of additional investment in NSW
non-government schools. The Minister went on to explain that as a result of the
agreement with the Commonwealth:
...changes are needed in the way that non-government schools
are funded by New South Wales... [The bill] provides a legislative guarantee
that the State will meet its obligations under national agreements. This
amendment to the Act will enable the Government to carry out our commitments
through the National Education Reform Agreement for funding non‑government
schools and systems.
The bill also included a provision that ensures that non-government
schools are not disadvantaged should the overarching national agreement come to
an end. The bill provided that if the relevant national agreement ceased, the
State would maintain the level of financial assistance that applied at the time
and may increase that amount, taking account of the costs of schooling.
Australian Capital Territory
On 30 May 2013, the Australian Capital Territory became the second
jurisdiction to agree to the previous government's national education reforms.
It was announced that the agreement would result in around $190 million
in extra funding for ACT schools over the six years from 2014. The extra
resourcing would result in all ACT schools being funded to at least the level
of the Schooling Resource Standard by 2019.
As noted above, the Commonwealth committed to index its school education
spending by 4.7 per cent per year from 2014 into 2015 and throughout the
agreement. The ACT committed to index its own school budget by 3 per cent per
year from 2015 onwards.
A copy of the Heads of Agreement between the Commonwealth and the
Australian Capital Territory is also publicly available.
Like NSW, the Australian Capital Territory developed an implementation plan
which was agreed with the Commonwealth and thus the NPSI agreement process between
the ACT and the Commonwealth has been fully concluded.
On 14 June 2013, South Australia became the third jurisdiction to agree
to the previous government's national education reforms.
It was announced that the agreement would increase public funding to
South Australian schools by around $1.1 billion between 2013 and 2019. Total
new funding to public schools would be $717 million, new funding for Catholic
schools would be $197 million and new funding for independent schools would be
As noted above, the Commonwealth committed to index its school education
spending by 4.7 per cent per year from 2014 into 2015 and throughout the
agreement. South Australia committed to reach an indexation rate of 3 per cent
over the new funding period.
A copy of the Heads of Agreement between the Commonwealth and South
Australia is also publicly available.
South Australia has also developed an implementation plan which was agreed with
the Commonwealth and thus the NPSI agreement process between South Australia
and the Commonwealth has been fully concluded.
Principal of the Darlington Primary School, Adelaide, Ms Kathryn
Entwistle, Senator Deborah O'Neill and Senator Penny Wright (Deputy Chair)
during the committee's site visit at the Darlington Primary School, Adelaide,
30 April 2014.
On 9 July 2013, Tasmania became the fourth jurisdiction to agree to the
previous government's national education reforms.
The Commonwealth and Tasmanian Governments would invest more than $380
million in extra funding between 2014 and 2019. The Commonwealth would
contribute $250 million in new funding, with Tasmania contributing $130
As noted above, the Commonwealth committed to index its school education
spending by 4.7 per cent per year from 2014 into 2015 and throughout the
agreement. Tasmania committed to index its 2015 base funding by 3 per cent to
2016 and every year thereafter.
It was announced that the Tasmanian Government's 'Fairer Funding Model'
would be the means through which Better Schools funding would be allocated to
government schools in Tasmania.
A copy of the Heads of Agreement between the Commonwealth and Tasmania
is also publicly available,
however the Abbott Government does not consider that Tasmania finalised a
bilateral agreement due to federal government caretaker arrangements coming
into effect at the time.
On 10 December 2014, the Minister for Education, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP,
advised the Tasmanian Government that it considered Tasmania a
non-participating state for the purposes of the Australian Education Act
On 23 February 2013, the Victorian Premier and Minister for Education
announced the Victorian Government's proposed approach to school funding reform
– Victoria's Plan for School Funding Reform: the next step in raising
student performance. The Plan was presented as an alternative to the
Commonwealth Government's funding model and was to form the basis for the
Victorian Government's discussions with the Commonwealth in relation to school
Subsequently, on 4 August 2013 Victoria became the fifth jurisdiction to
agree to the previous government's national education reforms.
It was announced that the agreement would see funding allocations for
Victorian schools total $63.7 billion over six years. The Commonwealth and
Victorian Governments would together invest $12.2 billion in extra funding
above 2013 levels, with Rudd/Gillard Governments contributing $6.8 billion and
the Victorian contributing $5.4 billion.
The agreement would result in Victorian schools reaching 95 per cent of
the Schooling Resource Standard by 2022.
On the day of signing the agreement, the Premier stated that it was
crucial that Victorian school principals and councils remain autonomous and
that he 'could never allow Canberra-based bureaucrats to run Victorian
The Premier stated that the 'Rudd Labor Government have agreed to amend the
Australian Education Act to ensure Victorian school principals and councils can
set the direction of their schools'.
A copy of the Heads of Agreement between the Commonwealth and Victoria
is also publicly available.
Queensland did not agree to the previous government's national education
In a submission to the Senate Education, Employment and Workplace
Relations Legislation Committee, the Premier of Queensland stated that
...will not be participating in the National Education Reform
Agreement (NERA) or the National School Improvement Plan (NPSI)...Queensland
opposes the funding system, the prescriptive and input focus of the NPSI and
the Federal Ministerial control of schools...
In December 2013, Queensland reached agreement with the Abbott
Government regarding school funding and the MYEFO 2013 allocated Queensland
$794.4 million from 2013-14 to 2016-17.
Western Australia did not agree to the previous government's national
On 10 September 2013 the Premier of Western Australia stated that:
The reason we did not sign Gonski was that Julia Gillard when
she was Prime Minister brought in a piece of legislation through the federal
Parliament...that effectively placed the commonwealth bureaucracy in charge of
schools in Western Australia.
Earlier in 2013 the Premier stated that Western Australia is:
...at least 25 per cent ahead in the funding of students in
this state compared with the Australian average...we will not tie ourselves to a
funding growth rate that is lower than would otherwise occur.
In December 2013, Western Australia reached agreement with the Abbott
Government regarding school funding and the MYEFO 2013 allocated Western
Australia $120.3 million from 2013-14 to 2016-17.
The Northern Territory did not agree to the previous government's
national education reforms.
On 26 July 2013, the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory stated
that under the proposed funding formula 'more than 40 per cent of Territory
students attend schools that get too much funding and need less'
Canberra is trying to hoodwink us into signing up to a bad
deal that diverts money away from urban students in Darwin, the rural area,
Palmerston, Alice Springs and Katherine and redistributes to remote schools...
...any new school funding formula must benefit all Territory
The Chief Minister also stated that the Northern Territory could not
afford to fund its share of the new funding under the model and expressed
concern about the Commonwealth approving how the Territory distributes its
funding to schools.
In December 2013, the Northern Territory reached agreement with the
Abbott Government regarding school funding and the MYEFO 2013 allocated the
Northern Territory $272.5 million from 2013-14 to 2016-17.
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