Griffith teachers took part in a nation-wide campaign on Friday as the Gonski bus came to town, in an attempt to secure the last two years of the well-known funding agreement despite the Turnbull government’s plan to scrap the model later this year.
As teachers they have seen it all when it comes to funding, but there is something about the Gonski model that has local educators fighting to keep it for their students.
With funding models chopping and changing as governments come and go, teachers said the long-term approach of Gonski has meant it is bringing about real change labelling the final two years crucial for students in need.
“The difference between the funding in the past and now is that the kids who actually need it are getting it,” teacher Bessie Dossetor said on behalf of the Teacher’s Federation.
“Unless you break the system by putting extra funding in it won’t change. That is why this Gonski funding is so unique.”
With the last two years promising the bulk of the funding teachers expressed their concern the groundwork they had laid down would not be realised.
Schools that have received the promised Gonski funding in the Griffith area have reported reduced class sizes, additional training, more specialist teachers and greater assistance for children with special needs.
Among many other things, Griffith Public School has used the funding to allow staff to work as Instructional Leaders to ensure children are engaged in high quality learning, but the benefits don’t stop with the city’s public schools..
With private and Catholic schools also receiving funding based on the needs of their students, according to Pat Donohoe from the NSW Teachers’ Federation, it is up to the entire community to stand up and fight for Gonski funding.
“What it would mean in this electorate, in Farrer, is that we would lose $26 million if we don’t get the last two years of funding,” he said. “We’re asking not only teachers but parents to and everyone really in this electorate to contact Sussan Ley to ask her colleagues to get on board and fund this. “It is not only teachers, it is the community who need to ask for this.”
However, Riverina MP Michael McCormack said the previous government had created the Gonski funding model without the finances to support it. “We are putting more money into education than ever before,” Mr McCormack said. “And I think people need to be mindful of the fact that education is the responsibility of the state government.”