Labor short on detail with a three page 'schools policy'

Labor has today announced a three-page press release “schools policy” that is short on detail and repeats their previous mistakes in education policy yet spends $37 billion that will drive the budget deficit higher.

Many of Labor’s so called ‘reforms’ in relation to teacher quality, increased focus on STEM, engaging with parents and providing record supports for students with disabilities are already being implemented by the Coalition.

Labor’s schools press release fails the basic lesson of the last decade – more money doesn’t automatically equal better student outcomes. Total state and federal spending on schools grew by more than 100 per cent in real terms between 1987/88 and 2011/12 yet Australia has gone backwards in absolute and relative terms, including in international literacy and numeracy rankings.

The Turnbull Government is putting in more money than ever before, but we are making sure that it is being used where it counts – in teacher quality, in a better curriculum, in parental engagement, in supporting principals to make local decisions about their local school.

Schools funding under the Commonwealth and under this Coalition government has always been needs based.

While Labor is talking about what they might do about improving school education, the Turnbull Government is already acting, including accepting 37 of the 38 recommendations of the Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group (TEMAG) to improve initial teacher education.

This includes the introduction of the mandatory national literacy and numeracy test from July of this year, which teaching students are required to pass before graduation to guarantee future teachers are in the top 30 per cent of the population for literacy and numeracy.

School funding has been increasing in real terms in Australia for the last decade and Commonwealth spending on schools has been increasing faster than that of the states.

Labor had never funded the final two years of Gonski and has today claimed their policy is fully funded. The reality is the money is still not there because Labor has a $48.4 billion budget black hole and continues to block the government’s budget repair measures.

Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham 
Minister for Education and Training, Senator for South Australia