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EYE-BALL Opinion – An Education Perspective – Governments fail to grasp the reality of societal changes –

September 4, 2012

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– An Education Perspective –
– governments fail to grasp the reality of societal changes –
| Author: EYE-BALL Opinion | 4th Sept 2012 |
T he ‘Gonski Report’ into Education was a review on how Education Funding is applied and how it can be improved among a few other things.

The full 316 page Report can be read using this link for PDF file format, or this link  for Word file format.   the Report came up with 41 ‘recommendations’ and 26 ‘findings’ – all listed below:

Recommendation 1

The Australian Government and the states and territories, in consultation with the non- government sector, should develop and implement a schooling resource standard as the basis for general recurrent funding of government and non-government schools. The schooling resource standard should:

  • • reflect the agreed outcomes and goals of schooling and enable them to be achieved and improved over time
  • • be transparent, defensible and equitable and be capable of application across all sectors and systems
  • • include amounts per primary and secondary student, with adjustments for students and schools facing certain additional costs
  • • complement and help drive broader schooling reform to improve Australia’s overall performance and reduce inequity of outcomes.

Recommendation 2

In a new model for funding non-government schools, the assessment of a non-government school’s need for public funding should be based on the anticipated capacity of the parents enrolling their children in the school to contribute financially towards the school’s resource requirements.

Recommendation 3

For the purposes of allocating public funding for non-government schools, the Australian Government should continue to use the existing area-based socioeconomic status (SES) measure, and as soon as possible develop, trial and implement a new measure for estimating the quantum of the anticipated private contribution for non-government schools in consultation with the states, territories and
non-government sectors.

Recommendation 4

From 2014, non-government schools should be funded by the Australian Government on the basis of a common measure of need that is applied fairly and consistently to all.

Recommendation 5

The Australian Government and the states and territories, in consultation with the non-government school sector, should make reducing educational disadvantage a high priority in a new funding model. This will require resourcing to be targeted towards supporting the most disadvantaged students
and should:

  • • capture variation in performance within categories of disadvantaged students
  • • significantly increase support to schools that enrol students who experience multiple factors of disadvantage
  • • significantly increase support to schools that have high concentrations of disadvantaged students.

Recommendation 6

In contributing towards the additional costs of educating disadvantaged students, governments should move away from funding targeted programs and focus on ensuring that the states and territories and the non-government sector are publicly accountable for the educational outcomes achieved by students from all sources of funding.

Governments should continue to contribute towards the costs of educating disadvantaged students by providing recurrent funding that provides additional assistance for:

  • • students where the need for assistance is ongoing and reasonably predictable
  • • schools with the highest concentrations of students who need support to achieve improved educational outcomes.

Recommendation 7

Future funding arrangements and governance structures for schooling should aim for sustained improvements in the educational outcomes of disadvantaged students, as part of achieving better outcomes for all students. To achieve this, additional funding provided to schools to overcome disadvantage should be invested in strategies that:

  • • improve practices for teaching disadvantaged students
  • • strengthen leadership to drive school improvement
  • • focus on early intervention for students at risk of underperformance
  • • are flexibly implemented to address local needs
  • • encourage parent and community engagement
  • • are based on robust data and evidence that can inform decisions about educational effectiveness and student outcome.

Recommendation 8

The Australian Government, in collaboration with the states and territories and in consultation with the non-government sector, should develop and implement a new funding model for schools based on the principles of:

  • • fair, logical and practical allocation of public funds
  • • funding in response to need
  • • funding from all sources must be sufficient
  • • support for a diverse range of schools
  • • driving broader school reform
  • • partnership between governments and across sectors
  • • transparency and clarity
  • • value for money and accountability.

Recommendation 9

The Australian Government, in collaboration with the states and territories and in consultation with the non-government sector, should:

  • • initially base the per student component of the resource standard on an outcomes benchmark that at least 80 per cent of students in reference schools are achieving above the national minimum

standard, for their year level, in both reading and numeracy, across each of the three most recent years of NAPLAN results

  • • conduct additional research to validate the composition of the reference group used for setting the per student amounts to apply from 2014 onwards
  • • broaden over time the scope of student outcomes covered in the benchmark to include other nationally consistent, whole-of-cohort measures
  • • review regularly the scope, methodology and data required to set the student outcomes benchmark.

Recommendation 10

The schooling resource standard should:

  • • be a recurrent resource standard, which includes a provision for general maintenance and minor acquisitions below an established capitalisation threshold but does not include capital costs
  • • include the full costs of delivering schooling services regardless of whether these are delivered in an independent school or a systemic school
  • • exclude adjunct service costs.

Recommendation 11

The Australian Government should negotiate with state and territory governments and consult with the non-government sector with a view to implementing a national schooling resource standard that allows flexibility in how it is applied across jurisdictions. This process should be guided by the following principles:

  • • the states and territories should have an incentive to take part in new funding arrangements
  • • the states and territories and the Australian Government should share any efficiencies in the provision of education on the basis of the schooling resource standard
  • • no state or territory should be disadvantaged in relation to Commonwealth Grants Commission or GST allocations as a result of their cooperation with the Australian Government in implementing the schooling resource standard.

Recommendation 12

The schooling resource standard should be used by the Australian Government as the basis for determining its total recurrent funding for government and non-government systems and schools and for the allocation of that funding across systems and schools. It should also be adopted by the states and territories to guide their total recurrent funding for government and non-government schools and the allocation of that funding to individual non-government systems and schools.

Recommendation 13

The Australian Government should work with the states and territories and the non-government sector to further refine the indicative schooling resource standard amounts for primary and secondary students. This should occur by mid-2012 to facilitate negotiations over the implementation of the new funding arrangements for schools. This work should commence immediately with the National Schools Resourcing Body to take responsibility for progressing it as soon as it is established

Recommendation 14

The schooling resource standard should include loadings for:

  • • school size and location
  • • the proportion of students in a school who are Indigenous or from low socioeconomic backgrounds, with loadings to increase for schools where the concentration of such students is higher
  • • the proportion of students in a school with limited English language proficiency.

Loadings for students with disability should be added as soon as possible once work underway on student numbers and adjustment levels is completed. The Australian Government should work with the states and territories and the non-government sector to develop and check specific proposed loadings by mid-2012.

Recommendation 15

Schooling resource standard per student amounts applying in 2014 should thereafter be indexed annually based on actual changes in the costs of schooling incurred by reference schools. Both the per student amounts and the loadings should be reviewed by the National Schools Resourcing Body before the commencement of each funding quadrennium. Indexation and review should occur within an institutional framework that ensures that the process is independent, transparent and rigorous.

Recommendation 16

Australian governments should fully publicly fund the recurrent costs of schooling for government schools as measured by the resource standard per student amounts and loadings.

Recommendation 17

Australian governments should base public funding for most non-government schools on the anticipation that the private contribution will be at least 10 per cent of the schooling resource standard per student amounts.

Recommendation 18

Australian governments should fully publicly fund the recurrent costs of schooling for non-government schools as measured by the resource standard per student amounts and loadings where the school:

  • • does not charge compulsory fees and has no real capacity to do so, or
  • • provides education to students with very high needs, such that without full public funding of the school’s resource standard those needs would not be met.

The eligibility of particular non-government schools for full public funding should be determined by the National Schools Resourcing Body.

Recommendation 19

To meet the Australian Government’s announcement that no school will lose a dollar per student as a result of this review, a minimum public contribution towards the cost of schooling should apply to
non-government schools at a level between 20 to 25 per cent of the resource standard per student amounts without loadings.

Recommendation 20

For the purposes of allocating public funding for non-government schools and systems, all Australian governments should:

  • • adopt a common concept of need for public funding based on the capacity of the school or system to contribute towards its total resource requirements
  • • commence work as a priority to develop, trial and implement a better measure of the capacity of parents to contribute in consultation with the non-government sectors.

The Australian Government should continue using the existing area-based SES measure until this better measure is developed.

Recommendation 21

For the purposes of allocating public funding for non-government schools, the minimum private contribution should be anticipated for schools with SES scores in the lowest quarter of scores. The minimum public contribution should apply to schools with SES scores above around 130. The precise school SES scores and the shape of the anticipated private contribution between these two points should be set in a way that balances:

  • • minimising the extent and incidence of any differences between the schooling resource standard required by each non-government school and system and the resources currently available to it from all sources
  • • preserving reasonable incentives for an adequate private contribution towards the schooling resource standard across non-government schools with various capacities to contribute.

Recommendation 22

The Australian Government and the states and territories, in consultation with the non-government sector, should negotiate more balanced funding roles as part of the transition to a new funding model for all schools, with the Australian Government assuming a greater role in the funding of government schools and the states in relation to non-government schools. This should occur within a governance framework that gives certainty and stability around expected future funding levels for schools from all government sources and operational independence for non-government schools.

Recommendation 23

Given the primary responsibility of government and non-government system authorities for the funding and operation of their schools, public funding for systems should be assessed and calculated at system level provided that systems:

  • • are transparent about the basis on which they allocate any public and private funding to member schools and the purpose for which it is spent
  • • report publicly when the allocation of total resources to schools deviates significantly from the principles in the schooling resource standard
  • • continue to report income and expenditure from each source for individual member schools on the My School website.

Recommendation 24

In establishing a baseline level of existing funding for the schooling resource standard and loadings, the Australian Government should roll in, to the maximum possible extent, all general recurrent funding for schools as well as targeted funding programs for non-government schools and National Partnerships, subject to appropriate transitional arrangements.

Recommendation 25

In order to successfully implement the funding reforms in this report, the Australian Government should, in collaboration with state and territory governments and in consultation with the non-government sector, develop transitional arrangements that:

  • • provide certainty to systems and schools about funding during the implementation period, consistent with the Australian Government’s announced commitments
  • • recognise the need for extensive negotiation involving all governments and non-government school authorities along with associated changes to agreements and legislation
  • • acknowledge the fiscal pressures on governments while moving to reap the benefits of a more outcomes-driven approach to funding as quickly as possible.

Recommendation 26

The Australian Government and state and territory governments, in consultation with the non-government sector, should, as a matter of priority, progress work on collecting nationally consistent data on students with disability and the level of educational adjustments provided to them to enable national data to be collected and reported from January 2013.

Recommendation 27

The National Schools Resourcing Body should work with the Australian Government and state and territory governments in consultation with the non-government sector to develop an initial range for a student with disability entitlement. The entitlement should be:

  • • provided in addition to the per student resource standard amounts
  • • set according to the level of reasonable educational adjustment required to allow the student to participate in schooling on the same basis as students without disability
  • • fully publicly funded and applied equally to students in all schooling sectors.

Recommendation 28

The National Schools Resourcing Body should undertake work to determine the resourcing needs of government and non-government special schools catering for students with disability.

Recommendation 29

Funding for capital purposes should be available to both government and non-government systems and schools outside of the framework of a recurrent schooling resource standard.

Recommendation 30

School Planning Authorities with government and non-government sector representation should be established within each jurisdiction and work to develop a coordinated approach to planning for new schools and school growth.

The Australian Government should establish a School Growth Fund for new schools and major school expansions, with the School Planning Authorities solely responsible for the approval of funding
to projects.

Recommendation 31

Australian Government investment in non-government school infrastructure should be maintained and continue to be provided in partnership with relevant Block Grant Authorities.

The Australian Government should provide an additional amount of funding to support major works and infrastructure in existing government schools in each state and territory.

Recommendation 32

The National Schools Resourcing Body should develop a national definition of the maintenance and minor works responsibilities of schools and education authorities required to be addressed from recurrent funds. This definition should be considered and agreed by the Australian and state and territory governments as a basis for capital and recurrent funding arrangements.

Recommendation 33

The Australian and state and territory governments should, in consultation with the non-government sector, strengthen public accountability for the public funding of school capital projects.

Recommendation 34

School Infrastructure Development Grants and the School Growth Fund should be supplemented annually in line with movements in the Producer Price Index – Non-Residential Building Construction.

Recommendation 35

The Australian Government and state and territory governments should establish a National Schools
Resourcing Body. This body would be made responsible for a range of tasks including:

  • • the ongoing maintenance and development of the schooling resource standard and loadings
  • • the annual indexation and periodic review of the schooling resource standard and loadings based on the latest available data
  • • ongoing research, analysis and data improvement to ensure continuous improvement within the schooling sector
  • • developing expected standards to which school buildings must be maintained and built.

Members would be appointed to the body on the basis of merit and expertise, and be independent of government. The body should be provided with a realistic operational budget funded by all governments to support the commissioning of research and data work as appropriate.

Recommendation 36

In establishing a National Schools Resourcing Body, the Australian Government and state and territory governments should also establish a representative advisory group to provide advice to the body on schooling matters. Membership should include representatives from both the government and non-government school sectors.

Recommendation 37

The current National Education Agreement should be revised to ensure that it meets the requirements of the new funding framework and reflects the renegotiated roles and responsibilities of funding partners. This should also include the development of state and territory based schedules attached to the revised agreement that reflect specific funding and educational requirements of that jurisdiction.

Recommendation 38

The Australian Government and state and territory governments should negotiate revised funding agreements with non-government system authorities and independent schools to reflect roles and additional conditions under the new funding framework and in line with a renegotiated National Education Agreement with state and territory based schedules.

Recommendation 39

The Australian Government and state and territory governments should legislate the proposed funding framework to ensure certainty and transparency of public funding for all systems and schools. Legislation at both levels of government should operate together to ensure that the total level of public funding is guaranteed for all systems and schools over a 12-year cycle.

Recommendation 40

The National Schools Resourcing Body should work with the states and territories, the non-government school authorities and the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) to develop a more robust national data collection, consistent with the proposed funding framework, that allows for a deeper national understanding of schooling outcomes. The appropriateness of what data should be used should be jointly worked through by the Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs, ACARA and the National Schools Resourcing Body.

Recommendation 41

The Australian Government should create a fund to provide national leadership in philanthropy in schooling, and to support schools in need of assistance to develop philanthropic partnerships.

There were also 26 findings –

Finding 1

Australian schooling needs to lift the performance of students at all levels of achievement, particularly the lowest performers. Australia must also improve its international standing by arresting the decline that has been witnessed over the past decade. For Australian students to take their rightful place in a globalised world, socially, culturally and economically, they will need to have levels of education that equip them for this opportunity and challenge.

Finding 2

The challenge for the review is to design a funding model that adequately reflects the different needs of students to enable resources to be directed to where they are needed most. All Australian students should be allowed to achieve their very best regardless of their background or circumstances.

Finding 3

Australia’s schooling system needs to help ensure that the targets for students attaining Year 12 or equivalent qualifications are met and that students leave school with the skills and capacities required to actively participate in society, and contribute to Australia’s prosperity.

Finding 4

Data indicate that Australia is on track to achieve the broader Year 12 or equivalent attainment target for 2015. However, the lack of data to measure progress against the target to halve the gap for Indigenous students in Year 12 or equivalent attainment is of serious concern.

Finding 5

The performance of Australia’s schooling system is about more than just literacy and numeracy results in national and international assessments and Year 12 or equivalent attainment rates. Defining and measuring the broader schooling outcomes is difficult and requires further development and information gathering if Australia wants to be able to gauge the effectiveness of its schooling system as a whole.

Finding 6

Australia lacks a logical, consistent and publicly transparent approach to funding schooling.

Finding 7

There is an imbalance in the provision of funding to government and non-government schools by the Australian and state and territory governments. In particular, the Australian Government could play a greater role in supporting state and territory governments to meet the needs of disadvantaged students in both government and non-government schools.

Finding 8

In recognising the many benefits of government and non-government school systems, future funding arrangements for schooling should continue to enable systems to make decisions around the redistribution and allocation of resources at the local level, with enhanced accountability.

Finding 9

The Average Government School Recurrent Costs measure lacks a convincing educational rationale. Meeting Australia’s educational challenges requires a funding benchmark that is linked to educational outcomes and is able to respond to changes over time in performance and the delivery of schooling.

Finding 10

Public funding arrangements need to reflect the nature of the educational challenges faced by a system or school given its characteristics and student population, regardless of whether it is in the government or non-government sector.

Finding 11

Within the new funding framework there needs to be an explicit difference between setting a standard for the resourcing of schooling and indexation for changes in the costs related to the delivery of that standard.

Finding 12

For the purposes of developing future recurrent funding arrangements, it would be appropriate to continue to exclude the user cost of capital, depreciation, capital expenditure and payroll tax. Superannuation and long service leave expenses should be included.

Finding 13

The most efficient way to meet the Australian Government’s announcement that no school would lose a dollar per student as a result of this review is through a minimum public contribution towards the cost of schooling in non-government schools.

Finding 14

Poor-quality school infrastructure and facilities can contribute to a decline in enrolments in some schools.

There is no national standard against which the adequacy of school facilities can be assessed. Therefore, it is not clear whether all school facilities are appropriate to provide a high-quality 21st century education.

The adequacy of school facilities should be defined in terms of their educational value, and the definition should be flexible to take into account differences in educational needs between schools and changes over time.

Finding 15

In order to address deficiencies in school and regional level planning, government and non-government school systems need to ensure that schools and their communities are more involved in the development and planning of school facilities to ensure that the best design outcomes are achieved.

The enforcement and public reporting against equity and educational objectives should ensure that the public investment into infrastructure and capital projects is being directed towards those schools that require the most assistance.

Finding 16

Current planning processes are not sufficient in responding effectively to changing educational needs based on demographic and social change. There should be effective coordinated planning between schooling sectors and at the local area level.

There needs to be an improvement in the accountability and coordinated planning by all schooling sectors around the use of public funding in the establishment of new schools. Public investment in new schools should take into account the needs of the community and the facilities currently available for students.

Finding 17

New funding arrangements for schooling should aim to ensure that:
• differences in educational outcomes are not the result of differences in wealth, income, power or possessions
• all students have access to a high standard of education regardless of their background or circumstances.

Finding 18

Strategies to address educational disadvantage in school are most effective when integrated with, and complementary to, approaches to support early childhood development.

Finding 19

The key dimensions of disadvantage that are having a significant impact on educational performance in Australia are socioeconomic status, Indigeneity, English language proficiency, disability and school remoteness.

Finding 20

There are complex interactions between factors of disadvantage, and students who experience multiple factors are at a higher risk of poor performance.

Finding 21

Increased concentration of disadvantaged students in certain schools is having a significant impact on educational outcomes, particularly, but not only, in the government sector.

Concentrations of students from low socioeconomic backgrounds and Indigenous students have the most significant impact on educational outcomes.

Finding 22

The existing resourcing provided to the government and non-government school sectors for students with disability remains an issue. Students with disability in non-government schools receive substantially less public funding than their counterparts in government schools.

Finding 23

The lack of robust, nationally comparable data on funding for disadvantaged students and its impact on improving educational outcomes is a significant concern. If Australia is to achieve greater equity in educational outcomes across its schooling system, these data will be paramount in ensuring funding is directed to where it is needed most, and improvements can be measured and strengthened over time.

Finding 24

An evidence base is emerging from National Partnership arrangements demonstrating that investment in integrated strategies that are responsive to local circumstances and need can be effective in improving outcomes for disadvantaged students. Critical elements in these strategies include building teacher capacity, strengthening instructional leadership and engaging parents and the broader community.

Finding 25

All schools are responsible for supporting students who are unable to remain within a school, and should have welfare policies that seek to find the most appropriate learning environment for their needs.

Finding 26

The panel notes the Australian Government’s response to the recommendations in the Realising potential: Businesses helping schools to develop Australia’s future report, particularly those aimed at building capacity in schools to develop partnerships with community and business.

When you read the ‘Findings’ and read the ‘funding’ context of these ‘findings’ – the Report becomes more about Political outcomes and agenda’s as opposed to really trying to help children and their education.

Since the reports release some 10 months ago – the Government has been working out a political plan both for funding the reports recommendations, and how and what recommendations to implement.

There are specific overtones when reading the report from an ‘Educator’s’ perspective leading to suggestions impacting on teacher tenure and accreditation.  Nobody doubts nor has trouble understanding the importance of a Teachers performance and ability in the learning perspective.

What is missing from the ‘Gonski’ ‘recommendations’ and ‘findings’ made in the report is any genuine appraisal of the social degradation within our society and its impact on student attendance and interest in education.

‘Findings 19 and 20’ above hint at the ‘disadvantage’ or ‘disability’ issue but only in a physical context – not the emotional issues children face when family and domestic home-grown issues impact on their ability to learn or want to be educated.

Quality of Teachers is one of the many issue ‘Gonski’  addresses, but if students are so confused and emotionally distressed by their own domestic considerations, throwing any amount of money at improving Teachers and their skills base, and the school classrooms and equipment, is not going to fix the problem.

No amount of money spent to appease the Gonski Report recommendations is going to improve students willingness to be educated whilst their emotional well-being and home environment remains challenging.

Society has changed and is always changing.  In a modern society and the acceptance of more and more hybrid style families, i.e. children of divorced parents in the care of defacto or single parenting environments – the childs emotive existence impacts on their willingness to accept the importance of education, or to be engaged in classroom environment.

These stressed and dysfunction children enduring the ‘broken home’ syndrome, and the adjustment necessary to make a new life based around the parent now raising the child,  leaves the child emotionally and physically scarred in ways that Educators are not qualified to address.

A great number of children form a part of this ‘societal rejection’ and there is no money being invested in addressing this problem.

There are 41 ‘recommendations’ and 26 ‘findings’ in the Gonski report, and not one of them addresses the depressive and emotional needs of students enduring life changing domestic circumstances.

In a classroom 30 years ago, the number of children coming from a single parent family, or where both guardians or parents were not the natural parents, could be counted on a single hand.   In todays classroom, it is the number of children still living with both natural parents that can be counted on a single hand.

Within that 30 year time frame, the dynamics of society has changed and children are now living lives where both parents/defacto carers work and children are left largely to fend for themselves when dealing with school, and the ‘peer’ pressures exposed to, and including ‘bullying’.

For younger children – Day-care arrangements are the survival mode for working parents.   Children are being cared for by third parties and this early stage bonding with natural parents is being forsaken because of the need for both parents to be employed.   Single parenting is a bigger nightmare.

If Education Administrators want to know and understand why school literacy and numeracy scores are falling within the education system – the problem lies not in the amount of money being invested – it is in the emotional wellbeing of children of school age being forced to endure life changing events they have no control over.

Teachers know this – their classrooms are full of the anger these children live with because their emotional responses to their domestic arrangements are not settled.

A single wage was enough to provide for a family some 50 years ago.  Changes to society since now require both parents now have to work to survive in the same manner as families were able to survive 50 years ago.

Governments pretend to be unaware of the mayhem their policies have caused over the years – they get voted out and then next time they are voted in everything is blamed on the previous Government.  None of them take responsibility – it is the combination of both sides of Politics that has caused the problems educators face today.

If children are happy at home and live in an environment where loving parents contribute to the childs education through time spent and supportive aid in homework, school activities, and P&C attendence, then the child will more willingly embrace school life and the education it offers.

Teachers are fearful of their classrooms – they are exposed on so many levels – any compassion offered might be interpreted as ‘inappropriate behaviour’ – the ‘no touching rule’ creates a natural conflict when they see all the child needs is a hug.   They receive physical threats daily and they try to not respond.  All these scenarios make Teachers very wary and unwilling to risk their careers to help children in emotional need.

Where a child is left to their own devices, and parents are not there to monitor and supervise homework, or attend school activities, the child treats school and the educators as authoritative figures and learns a mistrust of the education system.

You throw in abusive parents, defacto considerations, and a childs emotional and depressive wellbeing as a result, school and the education it is supposed to provide is the last thing they will embrace.

The Gonski Report does not go near these issues and that is why it fails on so many levels.

This weeks debate on private versus public school funding recommendations based on the Gonski report is the wrong debate.  The debate should be about finding a way to get a parent back at home to ensure the next generation of children are taken care of and not raised in a daycare or foster care arrangement.

Governments have fumbled the ball so badly on this score.   I link it in some ways to the womans equality movement since the 60’s and 70’s and that ‘mothers’ are conflicted about their want to work and achieve career success, and the mother instincts they fight within themselves when they drop their children of at daycare or school on the way to work.

There is no problem with a man doing the ‘home parenting’ if that is what best suits the family – but the important point is that there should be a parent at home to be there for children of all school age.

The debate over the Gonski Report is the wrong debate.

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