Social problems as much to blame for gap between regional and metropolitan students, Parkes MP Mark Coulton says

Parkes MP Mark Coulton's electorate covers almost half of NSW including some of the most remote parts of NSW. Mr Coulton said it was misleading to suggest a lack of government funding was to blame for the gap. FILE PHOTO
Parkes MP Mark Coulton's electorate covers almost half of NSW including some of the most remote parts of NSW. Mr Coulton said it was misleading to suggest a lack of government funding was to blame for the gap. FILE PHOTO

Money alone won’t be enough to help close a widening gulf between regional and metropolitan students, one federal government MP says.

A submission by the Australian Education Union (AEU) to a government review into regional, rural and remote education highlighted data showed a two-year gap in development between students educated in regional areas compared to those at metropolitan schools.

The AEU claims the Turnbull government’s proposed funding model known as Gonski 2.0 would result in regional schools missing out on funding and falling further behind.

“It doesn’t matter how much money you are giving schools if students aren’t attending.”

Member for Parkes Mark Coulton

Member for Parkes Mark Coulton, whose electorate covers almost half of NSW including some of the most remote parts of NSW, said it was misleading to suggest a lack of government funding was to blame for the gap.

Mr Coulton said the two-year gap between metropolitan and regional students was accurate, and something he wanted to see reduced, but he said there were other social issues that needed to be addressed outside school grounds.

“To suggest that throwing money at schools will fix the problem is naive. For some of the most remote schools, attendance is one of the biggest problems,” he said.

“It doesn’t matter how much money you are giving schools if students aren’t attending.”

He said the government was funding programs that were improving attendance rates such as the Clontarf program for Indigenous boys.

Mr Coulton’s Calare counterpart Andrew Gee didn’t return requests for comment.

AEU federal president Correna Haythorpe said their submission to the review called on the government to increase funding to regions.

Charles Sturt University vice-chancellor Andrew Vann echoed the AEU’s claims and said something had to be done.

“As CSU commented, there are structural issues associated with the delivery of regional education which disadvantage regional and rural students,” he said.

The NSW Department of Education and Catholic Education Office declined to comment.