Commission of Audit: teachers' body criticises report

NSW Teachers Federation president Maurie Mulheron has criticised the Commission of Audit’s recommendations on school funding as ‘‘dangerous’’.

The report suggests the federal government transfer all policy and funding responsibilities for schools to the states, and base commonwealth schools funding for 2018 onwards on 2017 levels.

If adopted in the budget, these proposals would effectively undo the full Gonski agreement.

Though the Abbott government has already wound back its commitment to the funding model from six years to four, Mr Mulheron urged it to reject the report’s suggestions and recommit to the full Gonski.

‘‘This is a very dangerous set of recommendations that will actually reduce the quality of schooling in our nation,’’ he said.

‘‘What the commission is recommending is we should completely abandon any needs-based funding for schools. In other words, it is attempting to overturn the fundamental architecture of the Gonski funding model.

‘‘It will lead to many, many students and schools right across Australia losing out and falling further and further behind.’’

Federation regional organiser Nicole Calnan echoed Mr Mulheron’s concerns, and said parents and teachers would be disappointed with the report’s recommendations.

‘‘[It’s] certainly a big concern for us and we’ll continue our campaign to ensure six full years of funding.’’

In the higher education sector, the report suggested increasing the interest rate on Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) debts and that graduates begin to repay their loan once they earn the minimum wage of $32,354.

Mr Mulheron said these recommendations would hurt graduates from disadvantaged backgrounds.

‘‘If we want people highly educated, then the government has an obligation on behalf of the nation to ensure all our sectors, from preschool to tertiary, are well funded and well resourced,’’ he said.

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