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Gonski revisited: Making the education dollar work harder for our kids
Thursday 4 May, 2017
The billions of taxpayers dollars spent on schools since the original 2012 Gonski Review would have been better targeted at improving teaching standards and directly assisting disadvantaged families, according to a new paper by an influential policy think tank.
The position paper published today (4 May), Gonski revisited: Making the education dollar work for our kids, by the Menzies Research Centre says the $30 billion school funding boost committed to by the Gillard Labor government was not capable of lifting Australian education results, as recent international standardised testing had demonstrated. Executive Director of the MRC Nick Cater said the new review announced by the Coalition Government this week should look at real alternatives to more and more spending.
The paper argues that the former Labor Government's Gonski Review ignored critical and available evidence to support its main recommendation that additional funding should simply be given to schools with disadvantaged students to lift their performance.
MRC Executive Director Nick Cater said the new review announced by the Government was a chance to direct funding where it mattered.
“The first Gonski Review tried to solve all the sins of the world by suggesting increased school funding was a magical answer to poor education results in socially disadvantaged areas,” said Mr Cater. "This has been a spectacular failure, a costly error that puts other Gillard social engineering failures such as school halls and pink batts in the shade. "
“Funding has no impact where the quality of teaching or parenting is poor. The original Gonski Review did very little to address such issues, and that can be directly attributed to meddling by former Prime Minister Gillard. The new review should look back on what went wrong and refuse to repeat the errors."
The paper outlines profound failures in the Gonski Review process that led to flawed findings, which ultimately cost Australians billions for little to no return.
The MRC paper argues for a new approach under which any additional Australian Government funds for schools be directed to teaching quality reforms and effective classroom practices, along with early and targeted intervention in families, something Mr Cater said would be “more in line with what the Prime Minister and Education Minister Simon Birmingham announced on Tuesday”.
It cites a range of research on what makes a good public inquiry; and some of the pitfalls of conducting reviews such as resorting to a simple "more funding" recommendation when pressure mounts.
It criticises a lack of consultation on the external research reports commissioned by the 2012 review, noting that one of the papers, by Deloitte Access Economics stated that ‘the evidence relating the design of funding models directly to student outcomes is weak,' -- something the review appears to have ignored.
"The fundamentals of good education are to be found in the home, the community and the prevailing culture. Arguably the single most important contributing factor to educational attainment is the commitment of parents to ensuring their child does well at school,” the paper states.
"It's clear the first review did not look seriously at alternatives to more funding, " Mr Cater said.
Despite substantial real increases in government funding per student over the past decade, Australian student results have stagnated or declined in international standardised tests.
“Australian education is at the crossroads, with ongoing declines in student results in maths, reading and science. We can’t allow ourselves to be swayed by a false argument that simply throwing money to buy more teachers is the answer,” Mr Cater said.
About the Menzies Research Centre
Founded in 1994, the Menzies Research Centre is a non-profit think tank that promotes freedom, enterprise and empowerment. The Centre’s objectives are to provide research and analysis, develop policy recommendations for government and encourage industry leaders and the business community to contribute to public and policy debate. Find out more at www.menziesrc.org/
For more information:
Nick Cater, Executive Director, Menzies Research Centre
Phone: 0422 005 842
Co-author, Gonski revisited: Making the education dollar work for our kids
Phone: 0408 057 862
Click here to download a copy of the position paper