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Major parties fail schools benchmark.

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DEMOCRATS MEDIA 04/1006 TUESDAY 5 OCTOBER 2004 SENATOR LYN ALLISON AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRATS SCHOOLS SPOKESPERSON MAJOR PARTIES FAIL SCHOOLS BENCHMARK Launching the Australian Democrats Schools Funding strategy today in Hobart, Senator Lyn Allison, schools spokesperson said the major parties’ education policies had failed to address the big issues in schools - inadequate funding to meet the needs of struggling students and lack of investment in school facilities. "The Democrats are calling for an extra $2 billion in public funding for primary and secondary education, bringing Australia up to the average for OECD countries. Senator Allison said “As well as extra funds for schools overall, there is a pressing need for reform of funding formulae for both government and non-government schools, to meet the educational needs of students. "The government school per capita funding system assumes all students are the same and the SES model for non-government schools assesses need as the ability of parents to pay fees. "The Democrats position was confirmed this week by the report of the MCEETYA Schools Resourcing Taskforce which called for an extra $2 billion a year in public education. "The Democrats formulae would take into account remoteness, number of students with disabilities, learning difficulties and those from non-English speaking and low income families. It would help schools deal with challenging behavior and meet the complex needs of Indigenous students. "The Coalition offers more testing and grading of students, forgetting assistance for students who don’t pass." "The ALP’s $100 million over 5 years for capital works and IT is ridiculously inadequate, given the poor state of government schools while the Coalition offers P&C’s handouts for small projects. Instead, a thorough national audit of school buildings is needed to and substantial investment needed to bring them up to scratch.” Senator Allison said despite the rhetoric on the importance of values, the Coalition has offered only $4.5 million ($1.50 per student) to implement the National Safe Schools Framework (NSSF), while the ALP has promised $65 million over 3 years to help schools develop strategies to improve student discipline. "Teacher training, ongoing assistance in helping students overcome bullying and resources is going to be necessary to keep children safe.” Yulia Onsman, lead Senate candidate for Tasmania said; ”As well as providing for struggling students, the Democrats plan will fund a much needed Primary Specialist Program for science, the arts and physical education, fix the Commonwealth funding anomaly for primary schools and provide incentives to the states to provide school based support and expertise from psychologists, counsellors and/or nurses in schools.

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The Democrats schools package:

• Educational Need Supplement for primary and secondary schools $ 800 m

• Increasing Commonwealth per capita funding for primary schools from 8% to 10% of AGSRC (the same % as secondary schools) $ 95 m

• Primary Specialist Program in science, the arts and physical education $ 150 m

• Implementation of the National Safe Schools Framework (matched by states) $ 45 m • Incentives for school-based expertise and specialist support (matched by states) $ 350 m • Audit of school buildings and capital works program $ 600 m

Total $2,040 m

• Replacement of the SES funding model for non-government schools with one that factors in whole-of-school income and assets, exclusion practices and the relative educational disadvantage of students.

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