Losing the Game: State of our schools in 2017



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. 

Download Losing the Game

Over the last few decades we have seen cycles of debate over the purpose of school education. Who should the system serve?

How should we provide and resource our schools? How do we ensure schools deliver personal and collective achievement?

In answering these questions consensus has been difficult to achieve and even more difficult to sustain.

Key findings:

  • 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.
Losing the Game
Figure 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).
Figure 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.

In the Media

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