I didn’t have to listen to this last night because it is all here. I won’t touch any aspect of the budget except what impinges on schools. The overall commentary seems to be that in terms of this being Santa Claus season (election year), Costello has done a pretty good job with a degree of responsibility. Whether it is really good enough for the country is another matter altogether. See the Sydney Morning Herald special for starters.
Now, about schools Peter Costello said:
Improving school outcomes
Every parent is entitled to expect that their child will receive a high quality education and develop the basic skills they need in later life. If children fall behind early they find it very hard to catch up.
From 1 January next year we will help those children who do not achieve national literacy and numeracy benchmarks in Years 3 and 5 and 7 by providing a voucher to their parents for extra tuition outside of school. The voucher will be for $700. It can only be used for tuition. It is designed to give those children who need it specialized, personal, assistance.
If we want to improve literacy and numeracy we also need to recognise and reward those teachers and those schools that do well in teaching our children.
In 2008 there will be a bonus up to $50,000 available to schools that make significant improvements in the literacy and numeracy standards in their schools. This will reward school excellence.
The Government will also provide $102 million from 2008 to establish Summer Schools for teachers to undertake professional development for teaching in the areas of Literacy and Numeracy, Australian History, Maths, Science and English. Teachers who attend these summer schools in their own time, will receive a $5,000 bonus from the Australian Government on completing the course.
The Government will also provide additional funding of $77 million from 2008 to get more practical experience for those training to be teachers. We will pay Institutions to provide a minimum 120 days experience in schools for trainee teachers who are doing three and four‑year degrees.
1. The $700 coaching voucher = 10 to 15 hours per year of coaching. One hour per week for the 40 weeks — well, you figure — comes to around $2000. But I guess the $700 helps, but it would have been more equitable (despite the fact I do coaching!) for that money to have gone to the infants and primary sectors especially in public schools.
2. In 2008 there will be a bonus up to $50,000 available to schools that make significant improvements in the literacy and numeracy standards in their schools. This will reward school excellence. Sounds good, but how will this help schools who do not according to measures, whatever they measure, make such significant improvements? They may in fact be making superhuman efforts in situations of great difficulty. Wouldn’t it be better to target schools who are not making “measurable” gains?
3. The Government will also provide $102 million from 2008 to establish Summer Schools for teachers to undertake professional development for teaching in the areas of Literacy and Numeracy, Australian History, Maths, Science and English. Teachers who attend these summer schools in their own time, will receive a $5,000 bonus from the Australian Government on completing the course. I approve the idea of a bonus for completing courses, but why is it tied to these Summer Schools? Would I have received a $5,000 bonus when I completed (in 1998) my Grad Cert TESOL at UTS, a course one year long that was all about literacy? Apparently not. I smell a rat: the government wants to control what teachers are rewarded for doing, and you can be sure those Summer Schools will only be funded if they pass the Julie Bishop/Kevin Donnelly ideology test. Also, why waste money on a whole new set of summer schools when existing inservice providers could do the job? On the other hand, funds for any university, college, or education department wishing to provide summer schools is in itself not a bad idea. Teachers would take such courses if they deem them useful.
4. The money for practical experience for trainee teachers looks good.
However, as the Herald says, another rat smells here:
FUNDING for private schools will increase by $1.7 billion over the next five years to $7.5 billion while Federal Government contributions for the nation’s public schools will rise by $300 million to $3.4 billion in the same period, according to projections contained in the budget.
The 30 per cent increase over the next half-decade for non-government schools contrasts with a 10 per cent rise for government schools.
Over the same period federal funds to government schools will rise from $3.1 billion to $3.4 billion.
What did you expect?
Now look at this. Love it! If only….
Well done, GreenpeaceAustralia.