Premier Ted Baillieu has defended his alternative plan for education funding, despite figures revealing Victoria is expected to reap four times as much funding for schools from the Gillard government’s reforms.
”We believe that the funding reforms we have proposed are fairer, they are going to be more effective, more sustainable and they will focus on the issues that Gonski raised,” Mr Baillieu said.
His comments followed revelations by Fairfax Media that Victoria would receive about $1.6 billion extra a year in combined state and federal funding by 2019 under the Gillard government’s funding reforms – far more than the $400 million extra a year promised by Victoria.
”It isn’t just about how much money gets attached, it’s about what the results are. And we want Victorian schools to be in the top tier … and we have the proposals in place to do just that,” Mr Baillieu said.
Australian Education Union Victorian state president Meredith Peace said the Premier’s plan would deny Victorian students access to a high-quality education.
”The contrast between his plan and the Gonski Review could not be more profound: one cooked up by his staff and released in the dead of night without consultation and the other the most comprehensive investigation of school funding in 40 years, conducted by an expert panel that considered over 7000 submissions.”
Mr Baillieu threw the federal school funding reforms into disarray when he vowed to pursue his own plan, saying he opposed federal intervention in schools and that his model would mean no Victorian school would be worse off.
Federal School Education Minister Peter Garrett said states that did not sign up to its plan could not expect any extra funding.
The alternative Victorian model includes more consistent disability funding between state and private schools; a voucher system for disadvantaged students, known as a “pupil premium”, under which the money would follow the student to the school of their choice; and more money for needy state schools.
Meanwhile, federal opposition education spokesman Christopher Pyne said a Coalition government would shift the education debate from a discussion about ”more money” to one about ”values”.
He said a priority in government would be to improve the quality of teachers by bringing back ”more traditional” teaching methods.
Mr Pyne said the first thing he would do in government would be to establish a ministerial advisory group to advise him ”on the best model for teaching in the world”.
He would ask the advisory group how the Coalition might ”bring out more practical teaching methods based on more didactic teaching methods, more traditional methods rather than the child-centred learning that has dominated the system for the last 20, 30 or 40 years”.
While he was not suggesting one approach to teaching would meet the needs of all students, there was a strong case that students should have basic knowledge and skills ”best provided by direct or explicit instruction”.
”Mounting evidence suggests that primary school children or students with particular types of disadvantage would be better off being taught this way,” Mr Pyne said.
But the incoming president of the Australian College of Educators, Professor Stephen Dinham, said that teachers are being unfairly blamed for the nation’s education system problems.
Professor Dinham cautioned against a return to a traditional ”chalk and talk” method of teaching but saw some room for changes – without abandoning the need to be mindful of individual students’ needs.
With JEWEL TOPSFIELD and JONATHAN SWAN
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