Losing the Game: State of our schools in 2017 | REPORT | June 2017

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Six years after the recommendations from the original Gonski Review into education were published, Australia is once again on the cusp of major education reform. In early May, the Turnbull Government surprised everyone by proposing a new package of needs-based, sector-blind schools funding for the next decade. David Gonski AC returns to chair another inquiry into achieving excellence in Australia’s classrooms. Since May, there has been extensive discussion about the merits of the reform proposal, and the Australian Education Amendment Bill 2017 is before the Federal Parliament.

Amidst this revitalised national debate, CPD released Losing the game: State of our schools in 2017 on Wednesday 21 June 2017. This new report is co-authored by Fellows Chris Bonnor and Bernie Shepherd, who between them have over 80 years of experience in the public school system. They co-authored the highly influential 2016 CPD report, Uneven Playing Field: The state of Australia’s schools.

Losing the Game is vital and sobering reading for anyone wanting to understand the state of our schools system, and will be required reading for the Second Gonski Review panel. Chris and Bernie examine the key trends in schools funding, performance and student composition, based on an analysis of My School website data for 2010 to 2016. 


The report’s key findings include:

  • equity in Australia’s schools is declining since the original Gonski Review was released.
  • school intakes are becoming more polarised and socially segregated. Advantaged students move to advantaged schools and strugglers are left behind, literally in classes of their own. 
  • schools are becoming less representative of local communities and less connected to them.
  • the ‘private school’ is vanishing with increased public money but with minimal public obligations.

Screen Shot 2017-06-21 at 8.32.44 amFigure 1 shows that government schools enrol the broadest cross-section of students, including the vast majority with higher levels of socio-educational disadvantage (see report p.19). 

Screen Shot 2017-06-21 at 8.32.55 amFigure 2 shows that combined government funding for Catholic and Independent schools (yellow and green bars respectively) tends to be similar to funding for government schools (red) that have a similar socio-educational profile (see report p. 28). 


Losing the Game recommends that essential amendments to the package must be made to:

  • accelerate the proposed increases in funding to the most disadvantaged schools, and
  • create a National Schools Resourcing Body to ensure all sectors and levels of government are transparent and accountable.

Additionally, the Second Gonski Review should conduct an investigation into barriers in our current schools framework that risk preventing the implementation of its recommendations. A task force should also be established that monitors progress being made against the recommendations of the Second Gonski Review and the commitments of federal and state governments, and reports publically on them at regular intervals.


Key documents

Full report  Executive summary  Media release 


Media coverage and other reading

Chris Bonnor and Bernie Shepherd published a piece on their latest findings in The Guardian.

The Australian Financial Review’s Tim Dodd spoke with report co-author Chris Bonnor 

Related reading:

Is Gonski 2.0 skilful trickery or chance to get schools funding right? Expert panel responds, The Guardian, Chris Bonnor

Uneven playing field: the state of Australia’s schools, CPD Report 2016, Chris Bonnor and Bernie Shepherd

The local school is in decline and stratification is to blame, Sydney Morning Herald, Ross Gittins

‘The inequity is worsening’: a tale of two schools and a school funding debate, The Age, Henrietta Cook