Fact sheet

Fact Check: Can the Gonski 2.0 reforms be described as 'sector-blind'?

Educational finance Schools

The school funding debate raised rival claims over whether the Turnbull Government's reforms were "sector-blind". For example, Education Minister Simon Birmingham said Gonski 2.0 would "get every school on to a fair needs-based formula that is truly sector-blind". And Opposition education spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek said Labor would not support Gonski 2.0 because "it's not sector-blind: it's actually very sector-specific." Does "sector-blindness" require one deal for all sectors? Or that the reforms lead to equal funding outcomes across school sectors, either during the 10 year implementation period or in 2027? RMIT ABC Fact Check found these rival claims amounted to empty rhetoric. "Sector-blind" is a politically convenient term used by different people which can mean different things. This renders the term meaningless. Under the Turnbull Government's Gonski policy, there will be no separate funding arrangements for particular schools, states or sectors, aside from some transitional arrangements and a guarantee for Northern Territory public schools. But as schools move to standard arrangements from different starting points, sectors will see their Commonwealth funding grow at different rates. The Schooling Resource Standard underlying the Turnbull Government's Gonski policy treats public and private schools differently. So did the version established by Labor. But the updated SRS changes how a school's "capacity to pay" can be assessed, meaning Catholic and independent schools will be treated more similarly to each other than before. Though the new arrangements relate to Commonwealth funding, each sector also receives funding from state and territory governments. This makes it impossible to predict how the changes will affect combined government funding across different sectors.
Verdict: Empty rhetoric

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