State and territory governments met with the Commonwealth on the weekend to negotiate funding agreements for public schools and vocational education and training.
Of course you’d have to been living on the moon to miss recent media coverage of all this, so forgive me any repetition in outlining how this is likely to affect us.
In a nutshell, these new agreements will provide significant, and welcome, new resources for NSW – more than $1 billion extra over the next five years in Commonwealth funding.
- Additional funding for the Digital Education Revolution, to a total of around $380 million in NSW public schools.
- New ‘National Partnerships’ for low SES schools; literacy and numeracy and teacher quality with up to $750 million over five years available to NSW.
- A lift to the base funding for public schools, an increase of an estimated $166 million over the next four years.
The funds will enable us to strengthen our support of high quality teaching and school leadership, and make intensive interventions to help tens of thousands disadvantaged students in some of our neediest communities.
There will also be challenges as we negotiate the detail of the new agreements.
The Commonwealth expects the States to continue with reforms to the way we account to the community for what we achieve in schools, and how we operate within schools, across schools and in support of schools.
The Commonwealth will provide an extra $807 million across Australia to meet the additional on-costs for the States and Territories to implement the National Secondary School Computer Fund.
With our share of the additional funding we’ll be able to provide laptops for every student Year 9 to 12, running on new wireless networks in their schools.
The Premier has written to the Commonwealth asking that the second round applications for funding be re-opened.
We hope to be able save schools the trouble of making individual applications for laptops by making a single application on behalf of all participating public schools.
My thanks to principals, and especially the Secondary Principals’ Council, for your patience and support through this process.
This is a great result for our students, and will support further improvements to teaching and learning for our senior secondary students.
We’re getting cracking straight away on procuring the technology and support services. We’ll call for expressions of interest to supply and install the new technology this week.
As soon as we have more details about each step between now and delivery we’ll communicate directly with those principals who are affected.
New National Partnerships
The Commonwealth has funded three major new partnerships to provide much needed resources to our schools:
- National Partnership on Improving Teacher Quality
- National Partnership on Literacy and Numeracy
- National Partnership on Low SES School Communities
The partnerships provide a real opportunity to try new things and to direct more resources to our highest priorities – such as backing our teachers and principals and directing resources to areas of greatest need.
We now know the Commonwealth funding that each partnership will attract and the results and sorts of reforms expected it is expected to support.
Our next step very early next year is to negotiate with the Commonwealth the details of how we will implement the partnerships in NSW.
Obviously the final sign-off on the arrangements rests with our minister and the government, but to prepare our implementation plan we’ll work very closely with schools, parents, principals associations, unions and other interested parties.
Additional Base Funding
NSW has long argued for the Commonwealth to treat public primary and secondary schools equally.
I’m delighted to report that on Saturday we finally achieved equal funding treatment for primary and secondary schools.
From 1 January 2009, the base funding grant for primary schools will be increased to 10 per cent of the average government school recurrent costs. As well as settling an important principle, the additional funding will provide a relatively modest but necessary boost to our budget.
In increasing the base funding, we’ve also managed to cut a lot of the red tape that been associated in the past with Commonwealth funding.
In the future you should see a significant streamlining of your reporting requirements and ours.
The agreement reached on Saturday is significant on all counts: there’s significant new money, and significant opportunities and challenges to implement the new partnerships.
Before closing I want to especially thank our colleagues in Leslie Loble’s team, and other groups in the department, who’ve worked so hard, and so effectively, to represent the interests of public school students.
I know many other people in professional associations, unions, parent groups and other government agencies have all contributed, but I’ve seen the work of our day-to-day negotiators at close hand and I can assure you that your students are represented by the best team in the nation.
With my best regards,