PM wants world-class schools
PM wants world-class schools

Julia Gillard will today set the goal of lifting Australia into the world's top five school systems for reading, maths and science by 2025 as part of her Government's response to the Gonski education funding review.

The Prime Minister will pledge to enshrine the target in law before next year as she unveils plans to work with the States to boost funding for public and independent schools by billions of dollars.

The new funding model will see the "dollars follow to the child", with students entitled to the same base amount of taxpayer funding for their education irrespective of what school system they are in.

But loadings will be put in place to ensure struggling students and schools get the extra funding they need to improve performance.

Ms Gillard will today outline what she calls three truths of Australia's education system: Australian children overall are lagging behind foreign students, children from poorer families are being left behind their peers in the classroom and the education system is failing indigenous students.

She will cite how by Year 3, 89 per cent of children from the poorest quarter of families are reading below average, and by Year 9 they are three years behind students from the richest quarter. "Four of the top five schooling systems in the world are in our region and we aren't in that coveted top five," she will say.

"By 2025, Australia should be ranked as a top five country in the world for the performance of our students in reading, science and mathematics and for providing our children with a high-quality and high-equity education system.

"Currently, Australia is ranked 7th on reading and science and 13th on mathematics, and is rated about 10th on the provision of a high-quality and high-equity education system." She set the 2025 deadline because that was in 13 years time - the time it usually takes a student to complete schooling.

Sydney businessman David Gonski flagged that his reforms would cost taxpayers an extra $5 billion a year, with primary students to get a base amount of $8000 and high school students to get $10,500.

But these estimates are based on 2009 figures, so the real cost is higher because of inflation.

The Government has also been forced to rework Mr Gonski's model amid fears a third of schools would lose money despite a promise none would be worse off. School Education Minister Peter Garrett said extra money would begin flowing from 2014 but it would be another six years before the full funding formula was in place.

But the coalition - which has pledged to repeal the Gonski funding formula - said parents would be sceptical that they would have to wait another three elections for Labor to deliver on its promise.

Greens leader Christine Milne said she was concerned the PM was "hung up" on making extra funding conditional on performance pay for teachers and giving principals more power to hire and fire.

The West Australian

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