Education plan essential to nation's future

In February this year a panel headed by the eminent Australian David Gonski released its long-awaited education review.

The Gonski road map recommended sweeping changes to the way our schools are funded, and said billions of dollars would be needed to lift student achievements to world standards.

Yesterday Prime Minister Julia Gillard reacted positively to the review, revealing she would now take a $6.5 billion National Plan for School Improvement to the states and territories.

At first blush it is a worthwhile plan and one that will help close the widening gap between the haves and the have-nots by providing more money for low-income families, indigenous students, students with a disability, children with limited English skills, and rural and remote schools.

At the heart of the Gillard plan is full funding  for government and special schools and tough new  training and teaching standards.

But it’s one that won’t please everyone, especially the Coalition, which prefers current funding arrangements, and private schools, who may be forced to disclose their sources of income, including bequests and corporate donations, and the value of their buildings to get greater federal funding.

The Prime Minister was short on details about how her plan would be funded but  these are critical  ‘‘must do’’ reforms and ones the government and the states must approach sensibly and with goodwill.

If they don’t, Australian education standards will  slip even further.

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