Quality education for all – from rhetoric to reality

The Centre for Policy Development invites teachers, academics, policy makers, parents, advocates, and other concerned individuals to contribute their ideas for improving Australia’s primary and secondary education systems.

The current education funding model is having a significant impact on the ability of Australian schools to provide for everybody. Segmentation has meant that the burden of ‘difficult’ students is placed disproportionately on public and on poorer schools. The current funding system has failed to coordinate the activities of public and private providers, leading to duplication of provision, reductions in economies of scale, and increases in per-pupil costs. Private sector recurrent subsidies are tied to public sector per-pupil costs, forcing Australian taxpayers into an upward spiral of increasing outlays.

There is a need for the development of a new approach or approaches to funding Australia’s schools. Supporters of the current policy on private school funding argue that it provides increased ‘choice’ and costs less than funding the equivalent number of students in the public system. Opponents of the policy argue that because of unequal obligations on private versus public schools, the ‘choice’ of a better-resourced education by some parents is being subsidised at the expense of providing all children with access to a quality education. Are there any socially, economically, and politically viable alternatives to the current system? Which of the many possible reforms to our education system would best fulfil the desire of every parent to see their child get the best possible start in life?

Questions to consider:

  • How can state and federal governments best take responsibility for the consequences of policies which have allowed the most disadvantaged and ‘difficult’ students to be concentrated in the poorest schools and areas?
  • What is the best way to reconcile diversity of education provision with equality of educational opportunity?
  • What obligations should be attached to government education funding of both public and private recipients to ensure that our taxes are serving the social purpose for which they were intended? How should these obligations be implemented and enforced?
  • When governments invest funds in education, they are primarily paying for teaching staff. In the struggle to attract the best teachers the dice is heavily weighted in favour of the private sector and towards schools in more prosperous areas. How can we reward good teaching equitably and effectively?
  • There is ample evidence that the public education system is under-funded, and public support for increased spending on public education is on the rise. But while there is clearly a relationship between the quantity of funding and the quality of education, this is not the whole story. What other changes are needed to ensure an education of quality for all?

For more information please see ‘Write for us‘. To pitch or submit an article please contact editor (at) cpd.org.au or call Miriam Lyons (02) 9264 0263

Articles in the ‘Quality education for all’ series:

The view from the ground, Chris Bonner, 5 October 2006
Towards an educational commons, Michael Furtado, 20 October 2006
Funding matters, Angelo Gavrielatos, 27 October 2006
State aid is still the issue, Anthony Ashbolt, 24 November 2006
Mapping the educational landscape, Ellen Koshland, 1 December 2006

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