The Gonski Report and Australia’s Proposed Educational Reforms

In my continuation of politics week here on Bobinoz (come on, show some enthusiasm!) I’m going to talk to you about one of those bills that the current government hope to push through before the end of this month.

Their chances of doing that, from where I’m standing, look quite remote. I’m talking about proposed educational reforms here in Australia…

The Gonski Report

David Gonski is a respected businessman and he was commissioned to create a report, imaginatively entitled the Gonski Report. I have heard of its mention many times, but to be honest, I really have no idea what it was all about. So today, I decided to take a closer look at the Gonski Report and found a page where I can download the PDF.

Hmm, 319 pages.

Time to Google “Gonski Report summary“.

Nope, not sure that’s going to work for me either, seems that people who summarise this report are either “pro” or “against” and, depending on their stance, they summarise it accordingly.

Who’s telling the truth? I just want to know if the Gonski reforms are good for our children or not.

I decided to ask our resident schoolteacher, Miss Peabody.

GonskiTurns out she knows as little as I do, so we both decided that what we would do here is just highlight a couple of websites that talk about this report and pick one that is obviously pro-Gonski and another that is clearly against.

Pro Gonski

On this website we discovered some things that we needed to know that were revealed by the Gonski report…

  • Australia is not investing enough money in schools and the money is not being distributed efficiently or fairly.
  • Australia is a high achieving nation in education, but some students, depending upon where they live, are disadvantaged compared to those in wealthier areas.
  • Australia needs to spend more on education; the suggestion is $1500 per student per year.
  • Federal government needs to lead the way; they currently contribute 15% of the money that public schools receive and that needs to increase.
  • Our children’s future is at stake, says the report “Australia will only slip further behind unless, as a nation, we act and act now.

My thanks to IGiveAGonski for that round up; visit their website for much more information from somebody who thinks Gonski is a good idea.

Against Gonski

On this website, the question asked was whether I understood the “Gonski educational spin?” It went on to say…

  • Australian Constitution states (and it does) that “State and territory government responsibilities include: justice, consumer affairs, health, education, forestry, public transport, main roads“.
  • That one of the strengths of this country is the competition between states and each state looks to continuously improve year after year. If Canberra take more control over education, we lose that competitive edge in this area.
  • Under this plan, Labour promises more one-on-one attention and support in the classroom for every child; specialist help for children in danger of being left behind; greater assistance for those with special needs; and providing better mentoring support for new teachers. How will they deliver that though? They have no real experience in running schools.
  • This website also says “Gonski funding should NOT come from Commonwealth borrowed funds. (Current limit is $300 Billion)” and if it is, and that would mark the end of our Federal Constitution.
  • Most amusingly, the website author says “If they’re (Federal Government) as good at education as they were with NBN, Pink Batts, School Halls, Stopping the Boats, doing sums (as in budget, surplus etc a-la-Swan) then God help the kids who get that “help“.

For more on this, visit

A quick note re the point about the possibility of the government borrowing the funds for Gonski; as far as I’m aware nobody knows exactly where the government intends to get the money from to fund Gonski, they simply haven’t said. This is an additional worry for many people.

Will these reforms go through?

As I understand it, the government needs all eight states and territories to sign up to this new method of funding by 30 June, otherwise the plan just cannot go ahead. So far only NSW, South Australia and ACT have signed.

Here, in Queensland, our Premier described the Gonski deal as a “bucket of custard”.

Mr Newman said the state would reject the deal even if it were ever offered by Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and said “We’d tip it over him.”

Doesn’t look like he will be signing up any time soon then, does it?

Now, that’s not to say that Campbell Newman doesn’t care about education in Queensland, according to the figures I’ve seen, under Gonski the Federal Government would hand over $3.8 billion to the Queensland Government towards education over the next six years.

In this years budget alone, Mr Newman pledged an additional $700 million towards education, so it looks like he is happier to oversee the educational improvements himself.

My conclusion

Any of you who have read my post Australian Politics Explained will understand that there are three levels of government here, that’s federal (national government) state government and then local government.

You will also know that it is state government that are responsible for education (as it says in the constitution above) in their own state, but under the Gonski review it would appear that the current government would like to centralise it and take more control of the nation’s education from Canberra.

It’s worth remembering that Julia Gillard’s government commissioned this report, and she probably got what she paid for. I’m all for putting more money into education, but handing greater control of it over to Canberra makes me very nervous.

So, would Gonski reforms be better for our children’s education? I don’t know, which doesn’t matter too much because it’s the premiers of our states and territories that need to decide, and they need to do it by Sunday.

I told you politics here was exciting here, didn’t I?

If any of you, whether you are thinking of moving here to Australia or whether you are already here want to know more about education in Australia, check out my page Which School? Make sure you also check out the “More Useful Links…” at the foot of the page.

Was that the bell? Great, it’s playtime!

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{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Becci June 27, 2013, 1:05 pm |

    Well Bob you’ve explained that one to me the kids had a Gonski day at school and I had no idea until I too had to google and was not really any the wiser but this has fuelled my fire even more as we are on a 457 visa we have to pay $9,000 each year for our children to attend their lovely state primary school and it is lovely little school however I had a nice little letter last week that this has now gone up to $10,000 per year !!! What gets my gander up is the school does not see a penny of this its a small amount in comparison to your figures in your report but I know the school and the pupils would benefit from this greatly from this $10,000 per year anyway whinging pom alert over it does not change the fact that we love Australia and our new life but this is a small blip that will come to an end when next year we can apply for our PR ! No more school fees

    • BobinOz June 28, 2013, 10:39 pm |

      Becci, you really need to move to Queensland or any one of the other states who do not charge those 457 visa holders for the basic right of education for their children.

      I wrote a post about this….

      And I wholly disagree with what NSW (and other States or Territories) are doing when they charge these fees, it is a basic right of children throughout the world to be able to receive free education, hopefully one day it will happen in these places.

      I don’t think you are a whingeing pom, it’s just not right, is it?

      • Becci June 29, 2013, 8:29 am |

        It’s not right at all but rules are rules I guess however children should be entitled to a free education and with all the add ons such as supplying hand wash tissues books stationary the $100 dollars you have to pay at the start of each term it all adds up we don’t even have the option to pay in instalments our Aussie pals were shocked to hear what we have to pay each year …. If I could move states I would lol 🙂

        • BobinOz June 29, 2013, 10:21 pm |

          I feel your pain. FYI, someone said in another comment somewhere that it was cheaper for them to send their kids to a private Catholic school than pay for a state school in NSW. Thought it worth mentioning.

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