Parents rally behind Gonski Review

What difference would extra funding make to your child's school?
What difference would extra funding make to your child's school? 

How did you spend your Saturday morning? As the mother of four children, I gave up claim to mine long ago. Sports games, helping with homework assignments, dance lessons – It’s all a constant juggle. I don’t mind it (though a sleep-in might be nice sometimes), because like every parent I want my kids to get every opportunity to learn, be challenged, and enjoy themselves.

All four go to public schools and I’m an active P&C member because I like being involved in the school community. But when I do start to question my forsaken weekends is when I find myself yet again at Bunnings, selling sausages to fundraise for English texts.

School funding is a pretty hot issue at the moment. You might have heard about the Gonski Review, which is what’s sparked off the latest controversy. David Gonski is the businessman who headed up the biggest review in decades of federal education funding. The final report was delivered to the federal government at the beginning of the year and the recommendations were pretty worrying. Gonski found that Australia is investing far to little in schools, and that the way the money is distributed is not effective or fair. This is leading to growing gaps in student achievement and inequities. Without urgent reform, our nation will fast become one where a child’s background will determine their educational success.

Gonski recommended a major increase in school funding. We’re not talking about fundraiser sausages here – Gonski recommends an average increase equivalent to around $1500 per student per year. That figure would vary from school to school, but to make it real for you, let’s look at what that figure would equate to for my kids’ schools.

My little two attend a central school with about 400 students. Based on the average Gonski per student figure, that’s an increase in funding to the school of $600,000 per year. It blows my mind to think what they could with that!

Imagine if parents really only needed to fundraise for just the extras, how much better we could support our schools ...

What difference would it make for your kid’s school? Are you worried about levels of activity at your school? Maybe they could employ a sports teacher to better integrate the sports and activity levels. Want to ensure that the dance group or spelling bee team does well? Perhaps some additional support for them. Think your school struggles to communicate with parents? Maybe employing an additional front office person would help bridge the communication gap.

Or are you worried about how the school is helping students with learning difficulties or managing class sizes? $600,000 could employ six extra teachers to ensure students got the individual attention they need.

At my girl's high school we’d be looking at more than $1 million extra in annual funding. That’s a lot of fundraisers for my P&C, and I suspect yours too.

Imagine your Saturdays free from Bunning’s BBQ’s and sock and bulb drives. Imagine if the P&C really didn’t have to put its hand in its pocket to buy those English texts or the goal posts for sport - things that should just be there but currently aren’t.

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Imagine if parents really only needed to fundraise for just the extras, how much better we could support our schools.

Politicians across parties and states have come out in support of the Gonski Review, including Barry O’Farrell, Peter Garrett, and Tony Windsor. But the Federal Government is yet to commit to this once in a generation opportunity.

They need to hear from parents, loudly and clearly, that we need Gonski. At my P&C next weekend, we aren’t going to be selling sausages. Instead we are all going to sit down to write a letter to our local Member of Parliament. Because if they hear our voices, and they listen, it would be worth so much more than a sausage sizzle.

Rachael Sowden is the Publicity Officer for Federation of Parents and Citizens NSW

What do you think about the Gonski Review? Join the discussion on the Essential Kids Forums or to add your voice to the 'I give a Gonski' campaign visit www.igiveagonski.com.au or www.facebook.com/igiveagonski