A principal's pain: Federal cuts to Gonski payments will hurt us

MOLONG Central School has joined the fight against the federal government’s decision to slash the Gonski school funding from six years to four years.

Principal Janis Glasson wrote a submission to a senate inquiry due to present a report into needs-based school funding in May.

So far only 24 submissions have been received from schools and individuals across Australia, who have until March 21, but Mrs Glasson said the reduced funding and uncertainty affected all schools.

Molong Central School was to receive about $2.4 million over the six-year Gonski model, but Mrs Glasson predicts the school will receive only a third of the money.

“[The Gonski model] was proposed on a good basis, there were a huge amount of committees and inquiries into why that money was important,” she said.

Mrs Glasson said, in Molong, the funds would have gone towards extra teaching support and school learning officers to assist students who were struggling.

Of the school’s 496 students, learning support teachers assist 110 students, or almost 23 per cent of the school population.

Mrs Glasson said the lack of secure funding would affect one-to-one literacy improvement, causing the most disadvantaged students to suffer.

The school’s large primary school class sizes, particularly in stage two and three, were another concern, with Mrs Glasson saying the extra funding would go towards reducing the numbers of students in each class.

Mrs Glasson said the funding was particularly important given the NSW government’s new plan of learning management and business reform - allowing principals to make more decisions.

“I absolutely believe the NSW state government has been behind Gonski,” she said.

The school currently receives $32,000 a year to cover professional learning for its 43 teaching staff, another area sorely lacking now a new national standard has put teacher accreditation high on the list of priorities, Mrs Glasson said.

Greens senator, and deputy chair of the senate inquiry, Penny Wright has seized on Molong’s submission as proof of the Gonski cuts’ impact, which she believes will give schools just over a quarter of the funds proposed in the original deal.

“The extra money coming over the first four years is a start ... but it’s very minor compared to the extra funding which would come in those fifth and sixth years,” she said.

Senator Wright criticised Education Minister Christopher Pyne for insisting there was no equity problem, despite students in regional areas being, on average, a year behind city students.

Member for Calare John Cobb was unavailable for an interview, but in a statement hailed the Coalition government’s “national agreement” on school funding which he said was good news for the three states and territories who did not sign up to Labor’s original Gonski model.

“[It] means that every student in Australia is now treated the same by the Commonwealth regardless of the jurisdiction they live in,” he said.

He deflected questions on whether the reduction from six to four years would impact schools like Molong saying it was up to the state government to make decisions about individual programs.

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