Union slams changes to Gonski reforms

UNIONS have hit out at changes to Labor's Gonski education reforms passed by the House of Representatives on Monday, arguing the reforms will reduce the accountability of schools funding.

The changes passed by the Abbott government in the lower House are yet to be debated in the Senate, but were not opposed by Labor in the House as they do secure some extra school funding.

The reforms in the Australian Education Act Amendment Bill include removing requirements for some planning and reporting on funding by schools and state governments.

But they will also see the Federal Education Minister be able to vary funding amounts to state governments for schools by regulation, rather than legislative reforms.

During debate in the House, the Prime Minister's parliamentary secretary Alan Tudge said the government was still committed to funding and regulatory certainty for schools.

But regional Labor frontbencher Catherine King said the changes would not have needed to be made if the government had delivered on its election promise to fully fund the Gonski reforms.

She said the changes risked the crucial two years of Gonski funding in 2015 and 2016, as well as putting in doubt extra loadings for students with disabilities among others.

However, Ms King and Mr Tudge backed the reforms for adding extra funding for indigenous students, and the bill was passed.

But Australian Education Union's deputy federal president Correna Haythorpe said the reforms would also postpone the creation of "school development plans".

"The reporting requirements and school improvement plans were put into law to ensure that additional Gonski funding was spent as intended - to tackle disadvantage by investing in programs for students with the greatest need," she said.

"These are taxpayer dollars and we support transparency and accountability of how they are spent."

The bill will now move to the Senate for debate, likely when the Upper House sits next week.

- APN NEWSDESK



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