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Need to Succeed’s What Next for Victorian School Funding? Symposium brought together over 170 of Victoria’s best education minds including educators, parents, the not for profit sector, policy thinkers, public servants and politicians. The event examined the state of equity in Victorian schools and the capability of our school funding model to provide an excellent education for all students.

Deputy Premier and Education Minister the Hon. James Merlino MP addressed the forum to outline his ambitions for the ‘education state’, announcing:

  • School budgets will now include a line item which specifies how much funding has been allocated as a result of the Gonski deal between the state and federal governments
  • A full account of how Gonski deal funding has been spent to date
  • Funding to Victorian schools will be raised to bring them closer to the national average

Merlino & Dale widest shot

Principal Dale Pearce (left); Deputy Premier and Victorian Education Minister the Hon. James Merlino MP with Maxine McKew (right).

We welcome these commitments, but attendees also want to see the Minister increase needs based funding and update the funding model to increase the equity component, as it is currently only around 2-5%. There was also robust questioning concerning the recent legislation that the Victorian government passed linking the non government school funding envelope to government school funding as Need to Succeed supporters felt it undermined the core Gonski principle of sector blind needs based funding.

The day began with the release of a report by former principal Bernie Shepherd and a team led by George Myconos from the Brotherhood of St Laurence. The authors used My School data to compare two groups of schools, one serving students from less advantaged families and the other more advantaged families. The report found that school-level education inequality rose in Victoria between 2010 and 2013, a change driven by shifting enrolment patterns. The report also highlighted the costs of failing students from disadvantaged backgrounds, in particular those students who exit early from the school system.

The report first broke with an article by The Age’s education reporter Henrietta Cook.

Co-author and former principal Bernie Shepherd walked attendees through the report’s findings. A Q&A session chaired by Maxine McKew delved into the implications of the report for schools and students. Simon Kent (Deputy Secretary, Department of Education and Training), Bronwyn Hinz (Policy Fellow, Mitchell Institute), Professor Shelly Mallett (General Manager, Brotherhood of St Laurence) and Bernie Shepherd made up the panel.

Afterwards Nathan Rees chaired a panel of ‘on the ground’ stakeholders including a Wayne Richard (Principal, St. Francis Xavier College), Dale Pearce (Principal, Bendigo Senior Secondary College), Sharron Healy (President, Parents Victoria) and Maggie O’Shea (Former student, Brunswick Secondary College). The group discussed a wide range of education issues, ideas and examples of best-practice were discussed.

Need to Succeed supporters are looking to follow-up the symposium with a meeting with the Minister, letters to media outlets and appearances on several radio programs.

We thank our sponsor, Teachers Health Fund, and supporters for their work in putting this symposium together:

  • Brotherhood of St Laurence
  • The Centre for New Public Education
  • Victorian Association of State Secondary Principals
  • Parents Victoria
  • Australian Council of State School Organisations Inc.
  • Ardoch Youth Foundation
  • Dusseldorp Forum
  • Victorian Council of Social Service
  • Public Education Foundation

You can find twitter highlights at this link