The stage is set for a stoush over school funding in coming months after the Australian Education Union launched a new push to reverse a mass exodus of public school teachers.
The For Every Child campaign will pressure federal, state and territory governments to secure adequate funding arrangements for all public schools by 2028.
The campaign coincided with the release of the 2023 State of Our Schools survey which revealed two in three teachers had faced increasing workloads over the past year, with an average working week now reaching 51.4 hours.
Excessive workloads are leading more teachers to exit the profession, the union claims.
The results also show 90 per cent of school principals have reported teacher shortages in the last 12 months – a figure that has tripled in the past eight years
The union argues greater funding would reduce class sizes, enhance one-on-one support for students, and provide teachers with more time and classroom assistance.
But currently only 1 in every 50 public schools are adequately funded according to the school resourcing standard, the union claims.
The standard, established following recommendations from the 2011 Review of Funding for Schooling led by David Gonski, provides an estimate of the public funding required for a school to meet its student’s educational needs.
Currently, the standard’s funding equates to $13,060 for primary students and $16,413 for secondary students.
Federal president of the AEU, Correna Haythorpe, challenged federal and state governments to commit to sufficient funding by 2028 to lift student outcomes and reduce the disparity between schools.
“Funding public schools at 100 per cent of the standard is the only way to ensure every child gets every opportunity to succeed and we have the teachers we need for the future,” Ms Haythorpe said.
“Our children and teachers are giving 100 per cent. We need the politicians to do the same.
“The Albanese Government must take the lead in upcoming negotiations with the states and territories and ensure all schools are fully funded by 2028.
“As part of that, the Commonwealth’s contribution to public schools needs to rise from 20 per cent of the SRS now, to a minimum of 25 per cent for all states and 40 per cent for the NT,” she said.
The intervention comes as Education Minister Jason Clare continues work on a new National Schools Reform Agreement to be negotiated in the next year.
“We’re committed to working with the states and territories to get every school on the path to full and fair funding,” Mr Clare said.
“What the next agreement really needs to be about is setting targets and embedding practical reforms that are going to make sure our schools are properly funded, that we use this money on the things that we know work.
The union’s campaign is set to include paid advertising, events, state tours and educating school communities. Union delegates will also lobby federal parliamentarians following the Winter recess.