Call for informed debate about education funding

23 April 2010

Academics from the Faculty of Education and Social Work have written a response to the Federal Government's "My School" website, criticising it for failing to disclose schools' comparative resources while inviting public critique educational performance.

Drs Lyndsay Connors and Jim McMorrow – both honorary adjunct associate professors – have also proposed that the combined $25 billion that State and Commonwealth governments invest each year in teachers should be pooled, increased and reallocated to make a good education accessible to all.

They say the new funding model would even up government funding allocations between schools and raise the quality of Australian school education as a whole.

In their paper &ndash New Directions in Schools Funding– Connors and McMorrow argue that the existing funding model uses public funds to entrench competition among schools and fuel an unfair competition for teachers, which unfairly favours affluent schools. To ensure consistent educational resources across Australia, the paper says, a funding model is needed to increase the number and quality of publicly funded teachers and to allocate them in a fairer and more rational way among schools.

"Having the number of effective teachers you need to do well at school should not depend on going to schools with very high fees, or that admit only students with demonstrated academic ability, or that serve affluent suburbs," Connors and McMorrow said.

As part of its "Education Revolution", the Federal Government has suggested a "Rewarding Teaching Quality". In contrast, Connors and McMorrow argue that, rather than favouring a few special teachers, public funds should instead be allocated more evenly between schools with similar workloads and enrolments, regardless of sector, to help make every teacher more effective.

Connors and McMorrow say the funding model they propose, and their report's more holistic approach to Australia's education system would ensure a sustainable, consistently high-quality teaching across the country to counter the inequalities highlighted by the "My School" website.