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Garrett touts divisive Gonski plan to school

BIG PLANS: Monique Lucas chats with School Education Minister Peter Garrett and Leichhardt State School principal Lee Gerchow.
BIG PLANS: Monique Lucas chats with School Education Minister Peter Garrett and Leichhardt State School principal Lee Gerchow. Rob Williams

LEICHHARDT State School stands to be a big winner if the recommendations of the Gonski Review are passed into legislation this year.

School Education Minister Peter Garrett visited the school on Wednesday where he outlined to students, teachers and Aboriginal elders the benefits of his government's National Plan for School Improvement.

The school has already benefited from $723,000 under the Low SES Schools National Partnership, but there is $6.5 billion a year in nationwide school funding on the table if the recommendations of the Gonski review get up.

School principal Lee Gerchow said the partnership had seen more staff employed and greater student literacy and numeracy, better student support and better access to skills that gave them a quality education. He said implementing Gonski would "be a massive boost and make a huge difference in the confidence of the community in us being able to continue to provide that quality educational experience".

As Mr Garrett spoke to children in the classroom about the benefits of the national plan for school improvement, planes from the Amberley Air Force Base thundered overhead. An onlooker was heard to quote a line from one of Mr Garrett's Midnight Oil songs, that maybe it was "US forces giving the nod" to Gonski.

While Federal Labor has nodded its own approval to the recommendations of the Gonski review, the Liberals want nothing to do with it. Federal and state education ministers will meet in April to chew the fat over Gonski and that will be the first hurdle for Mr Garrett to overcome. Then the government must get the legislation passed before the September 14 election for it to begin in 2014.

"Final details of the model will be settled in coming weeks, then there will be earnest discussions with both the states and the non-government school sector," the minister said.

"We have always said we want state governments to co-operate and contribute to a new education funding model because it is in the interest of all students in every state.

"... I've had meetings with my education minister counterparts, including John-Paul Langbroek, and the ministers have agreed on the reform direction and components of a new model.

"Now we need to get to the most important phase of agreeing to detail and looking at funding offers."

The big question for Mr Garrett is: Will Gonski's recommendations be legislated by September 14?

"Yes," he said.

Topics:  education, gonski, peter garrett



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