Response to the Senate Inquiry on the Australian Education Amendment Act

The Gillard government's Australian Education Act, responding to the Gonski Review of School Funding, was a major advance on previous school funding arrangements that sought to improve equity and promote excellence in Australia’s schools.  However, it had a number of weaknesses and shortcomings, which this amendment bill put forward by the Turnbull government has the potential to remedy.

In this Mitchell Institute submission, I identify encouraging elements of this bill (such as a faster transition to the Schooling Resource Standard) that represent an advance on current legislation, as well as several elements of that could be further improved, with specific recommendations. This includes even stronger targeting of funding to schools facing greatest need, and  a call for the Commonwealth to support the development of an independent institute to grow and freely disseminate a national education evidence base on the policies, programs and practices in Australian schools and early childhood education and care services which work best, and the circumstances (where, when, for whom) they work best.

The two-page submission concludes:

"With these amendments so described, we feel this Bill could better match Commonwealth’s school funding investment to educational need and enhance educational impact and opportunity. We further note that schooling is one of several vital elements of Australia’s education system. To maximize the benefits of these reforms, complementary reforms are needed to early childhood education, tertiary education and vocational education, to match investment to opportunity, informed by evidence, as part of a cohesive education system."