Federal Budget overview 2014-15

13 May 2014 | Author: CSA National

School funding commitments for the next four years will be honoured by the Federal Government.

However the 2014-2015 Commonwealth Budget flags cuts to individual programmes, and significant change to the funding of schools from 2018.

Extra funding for students with disability will however need to wait a further 12 months, with the process of finding common definitions continuing though 2015.

The budget delivers or foreshadows substantial reform in all areas of Federal expenditure with massive and immediate cuts in many portfolios.

Education remains relatively stable for four years, following the Government's confirmation last year that it would honour its campaign commitment to four years of promised "Gonski" funding. This includes scheduled increases until 2017.

From 2018 however, per capita funding to non-government school will increase only by the consumer price index. Education costs have been moving well ahead of cpi in recent years, largely driven by wages growth.

While honouring its four year funding commitment, the Federal Government has not excluded school education from its radical program of savings.

Education and health, services with big state government involvement, are slated for billions of dollars in savings across the next decade.

It appears that a major component of this will be the shifting of costs for state government schools from the Commonwealth to the States.

In the Budget Overview the Government indicates that:

‘State Governments have primary responsibility for running and funding public hospitals and schools. The extent of existing Commonwealth funding to public hospitals and schools blurs these accountabilities and is unaffordable.’

This reflects the approach of the released National Commission of Audit (NCOA). CSA understands the FederalGovernment will however reject the NCOA's recommendation that fuding for Independent schools should, in future, be directed through State Governments.

As mentioned, the Budget confirms that ‘from 2018, school funding will be indexed by the Consumer Price Index, with an allowance for changes in enrolments, to maintain the real level of Australian Government school funding’.

Minister Christopher Pyne will address the forthcoming Christian Schools National Policy Forum dinner at Parliament House, and will provide more details abut the impact of these measures on Christian and other independent schools.

It is not too late to register for the NPF - but registrations close on friday. Please register now.

Beyond the 'big picture' of the finding framework, the budget contains a number of cuts and other measures within the wider school education portfolio:

  • not proceeding with the development of the Australian Baccalaureate - savings of $9.6 million over four years
  • savings of $19.9 million over five years from 2013‑14 through efficiencies in the operations of the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) including a refocus on core priorities. This includes savings of $9.5 million over five years from 2013‑14 from funding allocated to AITSL by the former Government for its National Plan for School Improvement.
  • not proceeding with funding for the Better Schools — National Plan for School Improvement — Centre for Quality Teaching and Learning measure published in the 2013 Economic Statement - savings of $21.0 million over five years.
  • savings of $59.7 million over five years from 2013‑14 by reducing uncommitted funding for various grant programmes across the Education portfolio.
  • ceasing the Online Diagnostic Tools Programme - savings of $38.4 million over five years from 2013‑14
  • savings of $0.4 million over three years from 2015‑16 by reducing funding for the Teach for Australia programme.
  • The Budget did contain some additional funding in line with the Government’s election promises:
  • $4.9 million over two years from 2013‑14 to the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership for the continuation of the Australian Government Quality Teacher Programme (AGQTP). The AGQTP provides funding to non‑government education authorities in each state and territory to improve the quality of education through projects and activities that offer teachers and school leaders opportunities to develop their skills
  • $245.3 million over five years (including $1.5 million in 2018‑19) to continue the National School Chaplaincy Programme until December 2018. Under the revised programme, all Australian schools will be invited to apply for base grants of $20,000 per annum (and up to a further $4,000 per annum for schools in remote areas) to help engage school chaplains, with priority going to schools with higher levels of disadvantage. The refocused programme will introduce simplified reporting and administrative requirements to allow funding recipients to better focus on delivering chaplain services.
  • $6.8 million in 2014‑15 to specific non‑government schools for the additional costs associated with boarding and educating Indigenous students from remote communitie. The assistance will be provided to non‑government schools with more than 50 Indigenous boarding students from remote or very remote areas, or where 50 per cent or more of their boarding students are Indigenous students from remote or very remote areas. $9.8 million over two years from 2014‑15 to conduct a one year trial to determine the effectiveness of early exposure to languages other than English through online language learning programmes. The trial will be undertaken in approximately 40 pre‑schools providing an early childhood education programme.
  • $1.8 million over two years from 2014‑15 to the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority to develop Foundation Year to Year 10 curricula for foreign languages to revive the teaching of languages in Australian schools.
  • $5.0 million over four years to maintain the science education programmes, Primary Connections: Linking science with literacy and Science by Doing.T
  • The Primary Connections: Linking science with literacy initiative aims to enhance primary school teachers' confidence and competence in teaching science. The Science by Doing initiative aims to improve science learning and provides support to school‑based science teaching teams.

National Policy Forum

These changes make your attendance at the Christian Schools National Policy Forum in Canberra in less than 2 weeks time even more essential.

Our Forum programme includes The Minister and Shadow Minister, and a senior Department official, and we have the chance to make our view plainly heard to MPs and Senators at the NPF Dinner, in the Great Hall.

Over the years this Forum has been arguably the Christian School sector’s most significant annual political engagement. Involving all associations it is our most tangible display of unity of purpose.

Registrations for the conference are still open – so click here to find out more, and please plan to be there, as we find out more about how the government’s plans will affect our movement.