Armidale Teachers Association president Michael Sciffer condemned the Coalition Government for its $14 billion cut to education and said Armidale public schools were short-changed by more than $3 million. He said despite New England being identified as having the second highest level of educational disadvantage in NSW, it had lost about $26 million.
... it's perplexing why Barnaby Joyce wouldn't support it, when his schools in his electorate stand to be the biggest winners from that funding.Michael Sciffer Armidale Teachers Association
"The NSW and Federal Departments of Education identified that the level of disadvantage faced by families in the New England was due to factors such as the impacts of drought, low income and just the isolation of some areas," Mr Sciffer said.
"And obviously the further you get from places like Armidale and Tamworth the more schools in those areas face greater disadvantage.
"So, it's unsurprising that people like Adam Marshall are big supporters of needs based funding because the schools in his electorate stand to gain the most from it. And it's perplexing why Barnaby Joyce wouldn't support it, when his schools in his electorate stand to be the biggest winners from that funding."
Mr Sciffer said the following Armidale schools needed a total of $3.43 million to achieve their needs-based funding:
- Armidale City Public School $440,000
- Armidale Secondary College $1,550,000
- Ben Venue Public School $520,000
- Chandler Public School $30,000
- Drummond Memorial Public School $180,000
- Kelly's Plains Public School $60,000
- Martin's Gully Public School $170,000
- Sandon Public School $310,000
- Newling Public School $170,000
He said the original Gonski review established a Schooling Resource Standard, the minimum level of recurrent funding and resources teachers in particular schools needed in order to do their job. The review recognised the complex differences between schools and the additional funding through equity loadings required.
"These resources started to arrive in 2014, but only months later, in May, the Abbott Government cut a massive $30 billion from schools in its first Federal Budget, gutting the needs-based funding model," he said.
"Our schools in Armidale are already receiving the State Government's side of the needs-based funding and we're already using that money in our schools."
Member for New England Barnaby Joyce rejected the figures.
"Those figures are not correct and they knew they are not correct. First of all the State Schools are financed by the state, that's why they are called state schools," he said.
"We help out with Catholic schools and other schools because people want choice.
"We're also delivering funding to the Catholic schools, like the $950,000 that we put towards the upgrades of the classrooms at O'Connor Catholic College. The idea that we have cut funding is incorrect."
Mr Joyce said the correct education figures could be found here, and they proved the government was funding more on a per student basis than Labor ever did.
"We've already got needs-based funding, and it's increasing. But it's a good yarn that they can spit out if they want to do a Mediscare campaign," he said.
"There is no cut to education. There has been, and will be, an increase in education spending."
The current Federal Government hasn't honoured that agreement and I, and the State Government, continue to urge the Commonwealth to do so ...Adam Marshall NSW Government
Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall said the Federal Government had certainly not honoured the original agreement the State signed with the Commonwealth for the Gonski Education Reforms.
"I don't have the exact numbers, but I am certain if Michael has provided them to you then you have got them there," Mr Marshall said.
"NSW is very proud to be now the only state delivering the full Gonski package the way it was originally intended. Regardless of your thoughts on education, I think everyone would agree that schools need to be funded fairly, equitably and transparently.
"Needs-based Gonski is all about providing funding where it is needed most, and the funding is needed most in our rural and remote schools."
Mr Marshall said it was the reason why NSW was the first State to sign an agreement with the previous Commonwealth Government about delivering Gonski for six years.
"The current Federal Government hasn't honoured that agreement and I, and the State Government, continue to urge the Commonwealth to do so, and deliver a fair and equitable funding for our public schools in rural and remote areas," he said.
"Education is one of the last great levellers in life. Country schools and country students face a lot of barriers that city schools don't.
"Providing extra resources through Gonski helps provide extra teaching and learning resources to help country students get the same education that their city counterparts have had forever."