Maitland Mercury, February 2, 2017

By Nick Bielby

 

The Paterson electorate stands to miss out on $43 million for education if the federal government fails to fund the final two years of the Gonski program. 

And Maitland Teachers Association president Brian Adamthwaite says that will make it harder for students who need extra support to make progress in their learning.

The Turnbull Government is under pressure to fund the final two years of the six-year Gonski education initiative, amid concern that students will miss out on continued support.

The funding, introduced by Labor in 2013, was based on the findings of the Gonski Report, which Mr Adamthwaite described as “one of the most extensive reports into education funding in decades”.

But the Coalition has failed to commit to further funding for the needs-based program, which pays for support services, staff and other resources.

“Education is a bridge to a better future and public education is a bridge that doesn’t have a toll booth at the end,” Mr Adamthwaite said. 

“It would be such a pity if the bridge had a whole series of speed bumps built across it that are going to slow down the progress of those students [who need support].”

Mr Adamthwaite said the final two years of funding were “quite significant” because the majority of money had been backed up for distribution in the fifth and sixth year of the program.

“We’ve seen in the first four years that the amount of funding that’s been received has made a significant difference to those students who have particular needs that can be addressed by additional support services, staffing and resources,” he said.

Paterson MP Meryl Swanson wrote to school principals across her electorate last week to ask what impact the funding cut would have at a grassroots level.

“I know several schools have used their Gonski funding for intervention programs that have led to great improvements in literacy and numeracy,” she said.

“One school told me they are meeting and exceeding local and state standards because of these programs.”