At the same time, many private schools are receiving more than 100% of their SRS and will remain overfunded until 2029.
“If a Labor government wants to do something about education, they need to fix this and fix it fast, not let it happen until 2029,” Boston said.
The new government will face an education system that fails by international standards and continues to deteriorate.
Dr Ken Boston, former chief executive of the NSW Education Department
Labor went to the 2019 election promising an extra $14 billion for state schools, taking the government’s contribution to SRS to 22.2% from 20%.
He has since dropped that pledge in favor of a promise from education spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek to renegotiate funding arrangements if elected to ensure every school “is on track to reach 100% of the SRS”. At the same time, she promised Catholic and independent schools ‘will not see their funding hit’ while ‘every underfunded public school will be better off under Labour’.
Plibersek did not set a timetable for achieving full funding for public schools or indicate whether a Labor government would pour in more money to achieve it, frustrating public education advocates.
The Coalition declined to directly answer questions about its plan to renegotiate funding agreements, but said in a statement it was investing a record $25.3 billion in schools this year.
Trevor Cobbold, a former Productivity Commission economist and head of Save Our Schools, said states and territories are “significantly failing public schools” and the next four-year funding agreement should ensure 100% funding. of the SRS by the end of 2027. But he disagreed that redistributing existing funds alone would close the gap, saying the new government must either pour in more money for the public schools, or find a way to get states to raise their contributions to 80% and faster.
He said he was disappointed that the Labor Party, which sees itself as a stronger advocate for public education than the Coalition, “put education on the back burner” this election.
“Education has always been a key part of labor policy. Plibersek should have a clear target as to when public schools will reach 100%,” he said.
“They must immediately start renegotiating agreements to ensure that states move to 80% funding in a much shorter timeframe than the end of the decade. It costs public schools billions of dollars. Meanwhile, private schools are going to be overfunded by hundreds of millions of dollars through 2029.”
Tom Greenwell, a Canberra-based teacher and author of a book on the Gonski reforms, said it was reasonable voters would expect Labor to commit to a timetable that locks in full funding for schools by the end of the next quadrennium of funding.
“We know that the Coalition will not increase Commonwealth contributions to 25%. This is the question of the Labor opposition. That’s what they should answer if they really want all schools to be 100% funded,” he said.