South Australia is the first state to sign up to a controversial new national deal for school funding with the federal government hoping others will follow its lead.
The SA Liberal government on Monday signed up to the deal, which has been under negotiation with all the states since mid-2017.
Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan is confident others will soon follow, despite complaints from some states that public schools won’t get enough money.
“I continue to negotiate bilateral agreements with the other states and territories in good faith and hope to finalise them all soon,” he said.
The federal government’s deal with SA lays out concrete steps the state must take to improve outcomes for its students, Mr Tehan said.
“This agreement confirms that school reform must focus on driving individual student achievement and equipping teachers with the right tools in the classroom,” he said.
In September, a $4.6 billion 10-year peace deal offered to Catholic and independent educators by the coalition threw a curve ball at negotiations with the states, with education ministers calling for an equal funding boost for government schools.
Labor education spokesman Tanya Plibersek said Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government has shown through the deal that looking after the “top end of town” is more important than funding public schooling.
“Mr Morrison has restored the money he cut from Catholic and independent schools, but he refuses to do the same for public schools that teach two in three Australian students,” she said on Monday.
The coalition says it has delivered record funding for public schools, with $7.3 billion this year, rising to $8.6 billion in two years’ time.
Dozens of education organisations penned an open letter to Mr Morrison last month calling for a $1.9 billion funding boost for public schools.
The Australian Education Union, Children and Young People with Disability, and numerous principals’ associations were among the 26 signatories.
But SA Education Minister John Gardner said the federal funding boost in the deal, from $1.3 billion in 2018 to more than $2 billion in 2029, would deliver better outcomes for children in his state.
“By working with the Morrison government, we are providing funding certainty for schools across South Australia,” he said.