AER 60 takes the 2011 Gonski Review of Funding for Schooling as a vantage point, from which to consider the national funding of schools in Australia, past and future.
Section 1 outlines the educational values and perspectives that have underpinned school funding policies and programs and describes major themes in the evolution of schools funding – quality, equity and choice – providing a general guide for subsequent analyses. Section 2 provides a policy history of schools funding 1964 – 2011, during which time the Commonwealth government emerged as a significant funding partner. It analyses the political forces and recurring themes, policy issues and tensions that have affected the distribution of resources within and between the school sectors – providing context for an examination of the Gonski Review. Section 3 concerns the Gonski Panel’s Report: a substantial summary and analysis of its findings and recommendations, and stakeholder responses to it. The distinctive nature and characteristics of schools funding policy in Australia are then analysed in Section 4, in the light of the Gonski Report’s recommendations. The authors argue that cumulative political compromises have left Australia with a hybrid school system which is inequitable and unsuited to Australia’s changing social and economic circumstances. The review paper makes the case for a new schools funding architecture to be developed in the context of the federal system. The authors urge that it should be one with clear priorities in regard to a greater coherence between the provision of public funding and the achievement of educational goals for all children.