Tanya Plibersek agrees schools funding is a moral issuepoll, video

Funding: Shadow Education Minister Tanya Plibersek with St Mary’s Catholic College, Gateshead students and Shortland MP Pat Conroy. Ms Plibersek says schools funding should be looked at as a moral issue. Picture: Marina Neil.SHADOW education minister Tanya Plibersek says schools funding is a moral issue when seen through children’s eyes, in response to questions about Labor’s controversial support for more than $215 million in overfunding to some of Australia’s richest private schools.

During a visit to St Mary’s Catholic College at Gateshead on Wednesday, Ms Plibersek said children’s perspective of who is valued and not valued under the current system was “a very good way of looking at it” after years of education funding being a political football.

Although initially saying she did not “think kids are paying much attention” to funding impacts, including the $215 million in overfunding to some schools, Ms Plibersek later said she was sure children were aware of the differences between facilities in schools.

“I’m sure children are awareif they go to a school that’snot got a 50 metreswimming pool and the school next door has a 50 metre swimming pool, I’m sure they are aware of those differences,” she said.

St Mary’s school is one of a number of Shortland schools which shared $11 million in additional federal funding under the Gonski agreement. But Shortland MP Pat Conroy said the electorate would miss out on an additional $33 million because of the government’s failure to commit to the largest allocations under the later stages of Gonski funding.

Hunter region schools will miss out on $140 million. One of St Mary’s Gateshead feeder schools is St Pius Primary School at Windale, which has one of the highest rankings for disadvantage in the state. Maitland-Newcastle Diocese provides significant fee subsidies for both schools.

St Mary’s principal Larry Keating said the Gonski funding had been a huge benefit to students, and was allowing the school to expand to include years 11 and 12. In 2016 the school won the science and engineering challenge national championship, after years of dominating the competition.

Ms Plibersek said the $30 billion in cuts because the Gonski model will miss out on the highest funding years to disadvantaged schools would “hurt schools”.

“The whole purpose of these funding arrangements was to bring all schools up to a minimum, and then provide additional funds to disadvantaged schools,” Ms Plibersek said.

Challenged on Labor’s controversial failure to condemn continued overfunding of $215 million to some of the country’s richest private schools, and whether it undermined attacks on the government over the Gonski funding, Ms Plibersek said Labor was happy to reconsider if the government had a proposal to deal with overfunded schools.

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