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Educational performance stagnates as funding dominates debate

2014 Federal Budget

  • Federal Budget cut backs won’t allow current educational programs to survive 
  • Investing in our teachers as opposed to increasing the number of teachers is a more cost effective and viable solution.

Programs such as Gonski won’t survive in a cost cutting environment. The nature of the program lends itself to require additional funding and this year’s Federal Budget is positioned to reduce spending in attempt to return to surplus.

Andrew Trnacek, Grant Thornton Australia, says schools need to focus on a more cost effective solution to provide a better outcome for students, such as investing in our current teachers as opposed to focussing on adding more.

The focus on funding and dollars has narrowed the debate to the point that the direct link to educational outcomes has been lost.

“Most research shows, within a reasonable range, smaller class size doesn’t improve student outcomes. Where a link has been found, it’s often minor with other factors being more critical.

“It takes a range of factors, the most important being the quality of the classroom teacher and the professional development and other support they receive. This runs counterintuitive but the importance of both the class room teacher and the school principal is incontestable,” said Mr Trnacek.

The best way for schools to maximise spend in an environment where education funding is shrinking is to invest in the quality of teachers.

“Spending money on recruiting more teachers will be an expensive exercise and will produce limited results. A better and cost neutral policy is to invest in the teachers we have to better equip them with the tools they need to get the most out of their students and teach in an environment where funding is limited.

“Entry scores for teaching qualifications, professional development and training spend, peer support and of course a strong performance management culture would be money well spent. This could be paid for by a modest increase in class size.

“Teacher quality and principal leadership are the fundamental levers to improving student performance in Australia. Let’s discuss these first, then determine the how these need to be funded. At the moment we appear to be discussing how much money is needed before we understand how we want to spend it.”

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you would like to speak directly with Andrew Trnacek, National Education Leader, Grant Thornton Australia.

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