Federal Education Minister Peter Garrett said it was time for the Queensland Government to pick up the phone and negotiate in “good faith”.
Federal Education Minister Peter Garrett said it was time for the Queensland Government to pick up the phone and negotiate in “good faith”.

Federal Govt's education funding figures 'frustrating'

INDEPENDENT schools in Queensland are frustrated with the Federal Government after it bypassed them to release new education funding figures direct to the media.

The figures also showed independent schools across the state would be given $258 million in extra funding over six years, or $370 per student per year, an amount its peak body described as not substantial enough.

Releasing the data on Friday showing $3.8 billion in extra funding was the latest tactic by the Gillard government to hasten a resolution with the so-far reluctant Queensland Government.

The numbers show an additional $3.3 billion would go to government schools, $254 million for Catholic schools and $258 million for independent schools.

ISQ executive director David Robertson said the Federal Government should have discussed the numbers with them before making them public.

But it was the amount of funding that Mr Robertson found frustrating.

"The independent sector currently educates 15% of Queensland students, but under the allocation announced today, will receive only 7% of the additional future funding," he said.

Mr Robertson said it would make independent schools question whether Gonski really is a big enough reform for the sector.

The Commonwealth reaffirmed its June 30 deadline for Queensland and other recalcitrant states to join South Australia, the Australian Capital Territory and New South Wales in signing up to the National Plan for School Improvement.

Federal Education Minister Peter Garrett said it was time for the Queensland Government to pick up the phone and negotiate in "good faith".

"Our offer is on the table … which is consistent with the offer that has been made to other states," Mr Garrett told APN Newsdesk.

"What's crucial now is for Queensland to respond to that offer. We will continue to engage in good faith so long as we can have an actual discussion about the National Plan for School Improvement and the figures in question."

When asked by APN Newsdesk if he planned to pick up the phone this week to secure a deal, Mr Garrett said: "If they're serious about education … then they will negotiate in good faith. And from my point of view the door is always open."

Queensland Acting Education Minister Ian Walker used the release of the figures to claim 300 Queensland schools would be worse off compared to current funding.

"Another day, another set of figures ... (but) when it comes to Gonski the numbers just don't add up," Mr Walker said.

"Even as recently as last week, when more detail was released, it showed 160 state schools would receive less money under Gonski than they do now. It's just not good enough."

It was a claim rejected by Mr Garrett, who accused the Queensland Government of producing false numbers.

He said Queensland had been in receipt of the numbers released on Friday since the offer was made in April.

"We've had the Queensland Government bandy different sets of figures around in the past which is why we've released these figures to make it totally clear what the likely levels of investment are across all school sectors if Queensland were to sign up," he said.

"At the end of the day the Queensland Premier needs to make an absolutely crucial decision … will he put down the political combat 101 book and pick up the telephone for a serious negotiation with the Commonwealth."

Kevin Bates from the Queensland Teachers' Union said parents and teachers would be asking why the Newman government had not agreed to the reforms.

"Today's sector-by-sector breakdown makes it clear Gonski would be a massive boon for Queensland's schools," the union president said.



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