Adrian Piccoli, a former NSW education minister and current director of UNSW’s Gonski Institute for Education, has called on governments to fully fund all primary schooling — Catholic, independent and public alike.
“It is the socioeducational status of students, even ahead of the work of schools, which is having an increasing impact on student achievement,” a forthcoming Gonski Institute paper finds. At the heart of our problems, it suggests, is the nature of choice and competition between schools and sectors. “Our schools are increasingly characterised less by what they do and more by who they enrol.”
The solution, Piccoli believes, is to create a level playing field in which all schools are resourced and regulated on the same basis. “We have one of the most segregated school systems in the world,” he says.
There are many interesting points in the research (and the article) about disparities in current funding, and the impact on children in low-income families and/or suburbs.
Private primary schools are already close to fully funded by the government, and charge fees on top of that. The new system would not allow schools to charge fees if they receive government funding, thus becoming affordable to all. Fully funding private high schools would cost a lot more, and also have a much greater impact–worth considering if the model worked for primary schools.
Food for thought.