FUNDING CONCERNS: Labor Shadow Minister for Education Kate Ellis.
FUNDING CONCERNS: Labor Shadow Minister for Education Kate Ellis. MICK TSIKAS AAP

Landry says no to school fund cuts following Labor claims

LABOR'S spokesperson for Education Kate Ellis has attacked the LNP government for cutting over $400 million from Central Queensland classrooms over the next decade.

In a statement released to The Morning Bulletin, Ms Ellis expressed her concern for regional classrooms and what the government's $30 billion cuts to education would take from local classrooms and students.

However, Capricornia MP Michelle Landry fired back at these claims, calling them "predictable" and "misleading" while also reassuring the electorate of Capricornia that "there are no cuts to school funding."

But that hasn't stopped Ms Ellis saying that over the next 10 years, $433 million would be cut from classrooms in CQ.

"These aren't just numbers on a page, they represent fewer resources and less individual support for every child in every classroom in CQ," Ms Ellis said.

"The OECD's Programme for International School Assessment shows that in Australia, children in country schools are up to two years behind their city peers in mathematics and reading, and up to one and a half years behind their city peers in science. Unfortunately, the government's school cuts will make things even harder for us to bridge the gap.

"Under Labor's Gonski reforms, around 40% of additional funding would have flowed to regional and remote classrooms on the basis of local need."

But Ms Landry has assured the parents of school children in Capricornia that there will be no cuts to school funding.

"The Australian Government places a high priority on education and on providing equal educational opportunities to all Australian students, including those in CQ," Ms Landry said.

"The former Rudd/Gillard Labor Government ripped out $1.2 billion in funding for those states and territories, including Queensland, that wouldn't sign up to the National Education Reform Agreement, otherwise known as Gonski. Our government has restored that $1.2 billion and Queensland will receive the largest share, almost $800 million.

"Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham has confirmed that funding for all schools in CQ will continue to increase year on year under the Turnbull Government into the future."

Full responses below:

From the office of the Shadow Minister for Education Kate Ellis:

12.5 billion dollars. This is what is on the line for Australia's country classrooms.  $433 million. This is what will be cut from classrooms in Central Queensland over the next ten years. These aren't just numbers on a page - they represent fewer resources and less individual support for every child in every classroom in Central Queensland. This is what towns outside our big cities are fighting for, and what the Government's $30 billion cuts to education will take from local classrooms and students.

The current state of play paints a stark picture of the inequity between our classrooms. In NAPLAN scores, students outside metropolitan areas scored lower in all tests: reading, persuasive writing, spelling, grammar and punctuation, and numeracy, across all tested year levels.

The OECD's Programme for International School Assessment shows that in Australia children in country schools are up to two years behind their city peers in mathematics and reading, and up to one and a half years behind their city peers in science. Year 12 retention rates are significantly lower in regional and remote Australia than in major cities, with a recent report by the Mitchell Institute finding that remote and very remote communities have high numbers of young people not completing - 56.6 per cent and 43.6 per cent respectively.

Our school principals continue to report issues attracting and retaining teachers to regional and remote areas of Australia.

Basically, very little has changed. I think that everyone can see this gulf of achievement simply isn't acceptable, nor sustainable, for modern Australia.

Unfortunately, the Government's school cuts will make things even harder for us to bridge the gap. Under Labor's Gonski reforms, around 40 per cent of additional funding would have flowed to regional and remote classrooms on the basis of local need. The reforms are a blueprint to how the Government can better support regional and remote students.

The Liberals' Budgets have delivered blow after blow for our education system. First the Government broke their promise and abandoned years five and six of Labor's needs-based funding reforms, then they linked school funding indexation to the consumer price index from 2018. Over the next decade, these decisions rip $30 billion out of our schools.

Some are hoping that something will change under Malcolm Turnbull. Unfortunately, he signed his name to these cuts over the past two years, and empty rhetoric won't make a difference to our schools - the only thing our schools need is for these cuts to be reversed. The new Education Minister, Simon Birmingham, says he is looking for evidence that the reforms will make a difference. All he needs to do is drive outside our cities and it couldn't be clearer.

All is not lost - we will continue to fight these cuts and fight for our country classrooms because we want every child to have the resources they need, no matter their location, background or circumstances. It's a simple principle that the Liberals just don't seem to get.

Closing the gap between our metropolitan classrooms and those in the country is not only good for our children's future, it is essential for our country's future.

 

From the office of Capricornia MP Michelle Landry:

Labor's ongoing scare campaign about school funding is as predictable as it is misleading.

The former Rudd/Gillard Labor Government ripped out $1.2 billion in funding for those states and territories, including Queensland, that wouldn't sign up to the National Education Reform Agreement - otherwise known as Gonski.

Our Government has restored that $1.2 billion and Queensland will receive the largest share - almost $800 million. Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham has confirmed that funding for all schools in Central Queensland will continue to increase year on year under the Turnbull Government into the future.

Overall, the Turnbull Government is investing record levels of funding in our schools with total Commonwealth funding of $69.5 billion over the four years to 2018-19. This is an increase of 27.9 per cent since 2014-15 for all schools.

It is worth underlining this point and what it means for schools in Queensland.

At the last Budget the Turnbull Commonwealth confirmed that funding to all schools across Queensland will increase by $875.7 million, or 28.8 per cent, from 2014-15 to 2018-19.

Breaking this down, funding to government schools in Queensland will increase by $419.5 million by 2018-19, or 37 per cent, while funding to non-government schools will increase by $456.2 million, which is a 23.9 per cent increase.

Setting aside Labor's misleading figures, their scare campaign betrays a more important fundamental lack of understanding about schools and what is required to achieve the best possible outcomes for students.

While funding does matter, what you do with that funding matters even more.

Every available dollar needs to be used carefully to the best possible effect, and in the best interest of students and the educational outcomes we all want them to achieve, regardless of where they live.

We know that over the past decade, school spending increased by almost 40 per cent yet student outcomes have consistently declined. That is why the Turnbull Government has policies based on the best evidence of what works to improve student outcomes.

We know that quality education relies upon quality teaching, which is why the Government is investing in not only schools, but the specific measures needed to raise the quality of teaching and the status of the teaching profession in Queensland and throughout Australia.

That is why, through our Student First policy, the Australian Government has introduced measures to: 

  • Improve teacher quality, including through a national Literacy and Numeracy Test for Initial Teacher Education Students from 1 July 2016;
  • Ensure the national curriculum is robust, relevant and up to date
  • Promote greater school autonomy; and
  • Encourage greater parental engagement in their children's education.

The Australian Government places a high priority on education and on providing equal educational opportunities to all Australian students, including those in central Queensland.

I can assure all parents in the electorate of Capricornia that there are no cuts to schools funding.

Once again, funding for all schools in Central Queensland will continue to increase year on year under the Turnbull Government into the future.



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