New funding deal marks milestone in education reforms

INDEPENDENT school students in Queensland could get a share of $1 billion in extra funding, if the state government signs up to the Commonwealth's school funding reforms.

A new funding deal between Education Minister Bill Shorten and the Independent Schools Council of Australia was signed on Wednesday.

The agreement marks a milestone in the reforms, after progress hit a wall with Queensland, Western Australia, Victoria and the Northern Territory refusing to sign up to date.

Mr Shorten said it showed those parents who chose to send their children to independent schools that they could also benefit from increased funding under the arrangement.

But Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Mr Shorten both called again on Queensland and the other states to sign up.

Mr Rudd the deal signed on Wednesday meant 45% of the 562,000 students in independent schools would benefit, but those in other states could be left behind.

"Today's historic agreement will ensure every Australian kid, irrespective of where they live, which school they attend or their family background will get the best start in life," he said.

"It is now time for Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory to join with other states, the ACT and the Independent sector in embracing the Better Schools Plan."

The state government has made no indication it plans to sign up to the reforms after negotiations stalled when Peter Garrett was still the minister responsible.

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