New report reveals rural kids continue to fall behind

MANY regional and rural students make up to two years less progress between Year 3 and Year 9 than students in inner city areas, according to a report by an independent think-tank.

Teachers have called for more needs-based funding for students in the wake of the Grattan Institute report, which shows growing gaps between richer and poorer students.

However, the Turnbull government has claimed greater spending is not needed.

The Grattan Institute report shows more disadvantaged students are falling behind their more advantaged peers, measured on the education achievements of their parents and the students' own progress.

Using NAPLAN figures to track the changes in achievement, researchers found the gap between students with parents who had low education levels and those with highly educated parents grew from 10 months in Year 3 to about two-and-a-half years in Year 9.

The institute's school education director, Peter Goss, said the research also showed bright children in disadvantaged schools lost most, compared to those with similar potential in more advantaged schools.

The report urged the government to put "learning gaps at the heart of school policy", provide more needs-based funding and resources, and work harder to support disadvantaged students.

New South Wales Teachers' Federation president Maurie Mulheron said the report provided "yet more evidence in support of the original findings of the Gonski (needs-based education funding) review".

"There is undeniable evidence that needs-based funding is helping students achieve beyond what was previously possible, yet the Turnbull government continues to ignore this evidence by refusing to fully fund the Gonski model," he said.

Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham argued the report showed the amount of funding spent was less important than spending it properly.

He said it validated the government's approach, rather than offering "a simplistic debate about how much we spend".

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