Joint statement with the Smith Family on schools funding

20 June 2017

The Business Council of Australia and The Smith Family:

• Strongly endorse the principle of needs-based school funding.

• Welcome the additional $18.6 billion for Australian schools committed by the Commonwealth Government over the next decade.

• Acknowledge that education is the shared responsibility of the Commonwealth and the States and Territories.

• Urge that all available school funding be allocated using the principle of student need.

• Call for all Governments to jointly commit to focus investment on initiatives shown to be effective in improving student outcomes.

The Business Council of Australia and The Smith Family strongly endorse the principle of genuine needs-based school funding, initially proposed by David Gonski.

We urge the Federal Parliament to work together to ensure the principle of needs-based funding is at the heart of our education system.

School education plays a crucial role in preparing young people to fully participate and realise their potential so that we can build a better, more cohesive and prosperous society. With Australia’s declining educational performance in areas such as reading, maths and science, evidence-based reforms to our education system are essential to meet this objective.

Education is a shared responsibility of the Commonwealth and the State and Territory governments. Critical to improving Australia’s educational performance is joint Government effort, investment and shared accountability for improving student outcomes.

Needs-based funding should be the principle on which all funding – both from the Commonwealth and the States and Territories – is allocated to schools. Available funding must be targeted to those students and schools that need it the most.

The consistent application of needs based funding will create a simpler, fairer and more transparent approach to school funding.

Key to improving Australia’s improved educational performance is investing available resources in strategies which have been shown to be effective. There has been far too little of this to date.

Evidence-based school reform in areas such as improving the quality of teaching, and strengthening parent’s engagement in their child’s learning, are critical to complement needs based funding. Together this will result in improved educational outcomes, including for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

We welcome the new inquiry to be undertaken by David Gonski, which will identify evidence based actions to improve student outcomes and the accountability measures that will ensure we know how Australian students are tracking educationally.

The impetus for action is clear – too many young Australians are not achieving the educational outcomes which will help them thrive in the 21st century. This under achievement has a life-long impact on these young people and reduces Australia’s economic and social potential.

The Business Council and The Smith Family calls on all Governments to work together to implement needs based school funding and invest available resources in effective programs in order to support all young Australians, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds to achieve educationally.

The Business Council and the Smith Family have advocated for needs based school funding over many years. They are actively working together on improving opportunities for young Australians in their education and careers.

They have recently joined forces on a new program to give young Australians from disadvantaged backgrounds the best chance to kickstart their careers. The Cadetship to Career program, will initially place 50 university and vocational training students on The Smith Family’s Learning for Life tertiary scholarship program, into an eight-week, full-time paid cadetship with a Business Council member company for each year of their studies and provide training in the skills needed to succeed in the modern workplace.


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