Futures at risk

Dubbo schools are expected to be tens of millions of dollars worse off under a federal government proposal to redistribute education funding among the states and territories.

Federal education minister Simon Birmingham began meetings with his state and territory counterparts on Friday to replace the education funding arrangements he described as a “corruption” of David Gonski’s vision and riddled with “gross inequalities”.

But a new analysis by the NSW Department of Education, released ahead of Friday’s meetings, claims NSW public schools would shoulder the cost of $100 million being re-distributed to other states.

Private schools would be spared.

The projected loss comes on top of $300 million already forgone through the now-abandoned original Gonski agreement.

Dubbo organiser for the NSW Teachers Federation Duncan McDonald said scrapping the Gonski model is set to cost Australian schools $3.9 billion in 2018 and 2019 alone.

“They’re taking away that funding for the most disadvantaged schools,” Mr McDonald said.

“Particularly for kids in Dubbo and western NSW, kids that are going to schools in very isolated areas and regional areas but probably the biggest concern is kids with disabilities.”

Parkes MP Mark Coulton denied there was any real cut to school funding, as the Labor government’s commitment to fund Gonski in 2018 and 2019 “wasn’t funded”.

“It was a huge promise...maybe they could have funded it but we’ve also got other priorities,” Mr Coulton said.

“We’ve got a range of things we need to fund. The education funding will be increased but it won’t be the Gonski model.”

He said Labor’s original Gonski arrangements were “not responsible government”.

“Labor was struggling to get the states to sign up. They offered a very good deal to [then NSW Premier] Barry O’Farrell and he took that,” Mr Coulton said.

“That’s not really a way of distributing federal funding.”

Mr Coulton was unable to provide details of the funding arrangements as they are still the subject of negotiations, but said he believed in needs-based funding.

“We will support a model that will be fair across the states,” he said.

“I believe in needs-based funding for sure [but] there needs to be some emphasis on outcomes.”

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