STATEMENT ON REVIEW OF FUNDING FOR SCHOOLING
The Gillard Government is committed to ensuring that every Australian child has access to a great education.
We recognise that both government and non-government schools have a very important part to play in achieving this aspiration.
We believe that government schools are the backbone of our education system.
They are the crucible of the democratic right to accessible, affordable, quality education, and they are the place where most students' formal education begins.
The success of Australian education is predicated on the existence of strong, vibrant, high quality public schools.
At the same time, this government believes that choice in schooling is an important part of Australian democracy.
Non-government schools are an integral part of the Australian education landscape, providing a valuable public service and contributing to the creation of informed citizens.
We understand that parents who have chosen to send their child to a non-government school have done so for a variety of reasons.
Their choice has been, and will continue to be, supported with government investment.
The Gillard Government's backing our commitment to a great education for all students with record investment in schooling of over $64 billion over four years across government and non-government schools, almost double that invested by the previous government in their last term.
It's no secret that our current funding system is opaque and complex.
We want a system that is transparent, fair, sustainable and effective at delivering great educational outcomes for all students in all schools, and we're committed to ending the ideological war regarding school funding that has gone on in this country for almost fifty years.
That's why we have tasked a panel of eminent Australians, led by Mr David Gonski, to conduct a Review of Funding for Schooling.
We have made it clear to the panel that the review needs to be an open and transparent process, with all Australians who care about the future of schooling given a chance to have their say.
The panel has already released an Emerging Issues Paper, which was informed by a nationwide listening tour last year.
The panel called for public submissions on the paper, and received over 1100.
They have been meeting with many different groups with an interest in education, and visiting schools all over the country.
The review panel has also commissioned a number of pieces of expert research to inform their deliberations.
They will release that research later this year along with another issues paper, and call for submissions on the research.
The panel will then release their recommendations at the end of this year.
This process has generated considerable public debate, as it should.
So I want to take this opportunity to say very clearly: the government has not formed a view on this matter, and we are waiting for the panel to report their findings at the end of the year before we do so.
We will continue to consult before we make any decisions on the panel's recommendations.
Now I understand that any potential move from the status quo is confronting and, for parents and educators, a prospect that may cause anxiety.
This is particularly so when misinformation is sometimes reported in the media.
To provide some certainty, the government has committed to the following:
Firstly, no school will lose a single dollar per student as a result of this review.
Second, current funding arrangements for non-government schools have been extended to the end of 2013, and the end of 2014 for capital funding.
Finally, the panel has been asked to provide advice on appropriate transitional assistance to help schools move easily and fairly to any new funding arrangements.
As the Prime Minister said when she launched the review, Australia's educational future is too important to allow it to be dominated by ideological questions that exercise only a small minority, or to use it instrumentally as a vehicle for a broader political agenda.
Our children deserve a substantive, constructive and mature debate on future funding arrangements, and for the most part that is what is happening.
We see no point in an unproductive and divisive 'public versus private' debate.
So I encourage all Australians who are interested in the future of schooling in this country to continue to participate in the review.
The Gonski review and the Government's response is a once in a generation opportunity to establish a sure footing for schooling in Australia -- and it's an opportunity we cannot afford to waste.