Urgent call for Albanese not to short-change Tassie students

Tasmanian teachers are calling on Prime Minister Albanese to deliver on his public-school funding promise amid a report he may be about to short-change the state’s students, the Australian Education Union (AEU) Tasmanian Branch said today.

The Australian newspaper reported on Saturday (9th December 2023) that the Albanese Government may lift its share of funding for public schools by just 2.5%, half of what is needed to have all public schools funded to a basic benchmark level.

“If the prime minister reneges on his promise to deliver basic benchmark funding to public schools, another generation of Tasmanian students will be denied the resources they need to reach their potential,” said David Genford, AEU Tasmanian Branch President.

“Mr Albanese must increase his government’s allocation of benchmark funding from 20% to at least 25% to deliver on his promise to fix chronic underfunding,” said Mr Genford.

“Further delay to the delivery of the minimum funding is unconscionable – it would mean a student starting primary school today could leave high school having spent the entire time in an underfunded system,” he said.

“Additional investment was urgent to fund smaller class sizes, more individual attention for learners, and additional supports for the growing number of students with complex needs.

Tasmania’s Minister for Education, Roger Jaensch, supports the call for increased federal government funding and at an Education Ministers meeting in October, Hobart, this year said: “It is now critically important that the Albanese Government lifts its funding support for Government schools in Tasmania from 20% to 25% of the Schooling Resource Standard to support the reform initiatives in the next NSRA.”

Education Ministers meet again in Sydney tomorrow (Monday 11th December) to start negotiations over a new National School Reform Agreement (NSRA) and the AEU urges Minister Jaensch to secure a deal that will ensure the state’s public schools are finally funded to a minimum benchmark level.

Minister Jaensch must also agree to go ‘cold turkey’ this Christmas and give up a loophole that has allowed his government to divert around $47 million each year intended for student learning into accounting tricks and non-school costs.

“Minister Jaensch must make clear that his government will reject any future accounting loopholes and commit to all funding being spent to benefit students,” said Mr Genford.

Not a single Tasmanian public school is funded to the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS), which is the minimum benchmark governments agreed, over a decade ago, was required for a school to meet basic educational needs of 80% of its students.