The NSW Government needs to reverse its disastrous decision to slash $1.7 billion from NSW schools and TAFEs. Even the Premier’s Liberal colleagues think he’s gone too far. This isn’t about making savings, this is about making choices – and the NSW Government has chosen to put school and TAFE students last. Claims from Liberal state governments that extra funding for schools isn’t needed are just desperate excuses for inexcusable cuts.
State cuts to education mean almost 1,800 jobs slashed in NSW, hitting NSW TAFE students with an almost 10% increase in fees and, freezing funding to Catholic and Independent schools. The Federal Government is concerned that this is a glimpse into what a future Liberal Federal Government may do in relation to education. Despite the findings of the Gonski Review, the Shadow Minister for Education has repeatedly said he doesn’t think the school funding system is broken and he committed the Coalition to repealing any legislation the Government introduces.
At present, Commonwealth funding for schools is tied to state government spending on government schools – so when states spend less on their schools, federal funding goes down. This is an automatic process that is part of the school funding system introduced by the Howard Government. Because states have reduced the amount of money they spend on schools in the last year, the Commonwealth has had to cut its indexation for school funding from 5.9% to 3.9%.
The actions of the NSW Government mean every school in the country will lose out. And if state governments continue to make deep cuts to schools, then under the current system it’s only going to get worse.
Minister Garrett spoke to the NSW Minister to express the Government’s concern over these unnecessary cuts and, on 17 September, met with him personally to again urge him to reverse the O’Farrell Government’s decision to slash $1.7 billion from the state’s education budget.
The NSW Minister expressed his support for a new, needs-based school funding model as recommended by the Gonski Review and, again, Mr Garrett made it clear that the Gillard Government is prepared to invest more in schools in response to the review, but states need to pay their fair share. The Federal Government will not allow increased Commonwealth funding to be used as a substitute for reductions in state funding to schools.
Budgets are about making choices. The Federal Labor Government has chosen to put education front and centre and has made the necessary budget decisions to do that. There’s no reason State Governments can’t do the same.
As a Member of the Federal Labor Government I can assure constituents in Cunningham that we are determined to push ahead with our school improvement plan because we know that our economic security depends on a great education system.
Australia has always had a diverse school system which offers families a choice in schooling - and we support that. Under our plan, funding for schools would be based on the needs of individual students, regardless of what type of school they attend. Public schools would continue to be fully publicly funded and private schools would get a share of funding based on parental capacity to contribute - as they do now. That's the fairest way to make sure every school is getting what it needs to support every student.
During my visits to local schools to open new, Federally funded facilities, I have been impressed by the difference this investment makes to our children’s education.
OECD data released this week confirms that Australia under invests in schools compared to other high performing countries. And, we know from our own programs on literacy and numeracy and teacher quality that targeted funding is already making a real difference in student results. That’s why our plan is about making sure any extra investment in schools is spent on the things that we know work – like higher teaching standards and school improvement strategies.
TAFE students in NSW will pay more for training after the Liberal NSW Minister for Education, Adrian Piccoli, announced he was cutting TAFE funding, slashing jobs and increasing student fees.
The NSW Liberal Government has announced it will cut 800 TAFE jobs over the next four years and increase fees for TAFE students by 9.5 per cent.
NSW TAFE students will pay $44 extra for certificate one and two courses and an extra $150 for advanced diplomas. At a time when the State needs more skilled workers, the Liberal Government is cutting staff and jacking up costs for students.
The Liberal Government’s policies will see a reduction in training opportunities, including for those living in regional areas. These polices are a dress rehearsal for what Tony Abbott is planning for the tertiary education sector.
Liberal Governments have form when it comes to cutting critical services like health and education.
TAFEs are on the frontline when it comes to giving people in NSW the skills they need to fill the jobs of the future. They are essential in delivering training for students in our regions and for disadvantaged students.
TAFEs are essential public institutions which the Gillard Government values highly. The Gillard Government is putting approximately $2.3 billion into the New South Wales training system over the next five years. This builds on the $158 million in capital funding we have already invested in NSW.