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Going Backski

By Angelo Gavrielatos - posted Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Christopher Pyne and Tony Abbott have confirmed what many have long suspected: they run a government which feels no responsibility for government schools.

There is a pattern emerging from the public and private utterances of this government. A pattern of favouring private schools over public schools.

Most recently, Mr Abbott has been talking up the US-model of allowing big corporations, such as IBM, to run schools and "shape the curriculum", with the aim of training workers for themselves.


Let's get this straight. There is no money to pay for the Gonski reforms, funding for all schools is to be cut in real terms, but the Prime Minister is talking about giving money to multinational corporations to run schools?

Allowing for-profit corporations into schools has been a disaster everywhere it has been tried, and has had a negative impact on overall educational outcomes and diminished equity. Students need a broad curriculum to equip them for a life where they are likely to have several careers, not just one. They are not going to get this if the curriculum is designed to suit the short-term staffing needs of one company.

But the pattern goes more broadly than this. If you want more proof, look at the reports last week showing the Abbott Government's decision to scrap the last two years of the Gonski reforms would mean that the gaps between elite private schools and disadvantaged schools will continue to widen.

These schools will have their post-2017 funding based on what they received in 2013, which means they will receive more than their Gonski amount, while other schools will be indexed at CPI.

But for the real background you need to look at the remarks Education Minister Christopher Pyne made at a post-budget function organised by Christian Schools Australia in Canberra.

These show that the decision to end needs-based Gonski funding after 2017 was not due to a "budget emergency" but based on a philosophy that says the Federal Government should not play a role in funding public schools.


Mr Pyne told a friendly audience at the CSA function that:

Having talked to the Prime Minister about this matter many times, it is his view that we have a particular responsibility for Non-Government schooling that we don't have for Government schooling.

The emotional commitment within the Federal Government is to continue to have a direct relationship with the non-government schools sector. I think the States and Territories would prefer that as well.

These comments show the low regard with which the Abbott Government holds public schools, despite the fact they educate two thirds of Australian students.

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About the Author

Angelo Gavrielatos is the president of the Australian Education Union.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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