Senator’s school claims stretching truth

Senator Bridget McKenzie’s claim in the Bendigo Advertiser that “the new needs-based funding model will increase funding to schools in the Bendigo electorate by 66.5 per cent over 10 years” is stretching the truth.

The Liberal National Government new funding arrangement for schools is not “needs-based” and the Senator should withdraw that claim.

Schools like Lightning Reef Primary School, which covers some of the suburbs with the lowest SEIFA index in the state, will receive $34,500 next year. Meanwhile, Girton Grammar will receive an extra $500,000 next year.

Girton Grammar is a great school with fantastic resources, facilities and teachers. The opportunities for students at Girton are second to none, whether their students have a passion for the arts, sport, languages or academia.

However, the Senator cannot claim their funding scheme is “needs-based” when this school will receive an extra $500,000 next year but Lightning Reef, a school that cannot afford to water its oval, is only receiving $34,500 extra in Commonwealth funding.

This figure is also nearly $100,000 less than what Lightning Reef would have received next year under the Gonski’s needs-based funding scheme, formalised between the Federal Government and the Victorian Government in 2013 through the National Education Reform Agreement (NERA).

Ms Chesters said the Government and the Senator just don’t get it.

“Not all communities, families and therefore, schools are equal. There are significant pockets of disadvantage across Bendigo where parents and carers are struggling to buy uniforms and provide lunches for their children to attend school. Their ability to pay any form of school fee is nonexistent.

“That’s why Labor’s needs-based funding plan invested significantly in these schools - to give the kids a chance to break intergenerational poverty.

“Further, the figure of 66% increase is fictitious by dismissing the 2013 agreement between the Federal and State Governments. The Liberal-Nationals have in fact cut millions from public schools across the Bendigo.

“Perhaps the Senator and her colleagues need to go back to school to learn the true meaning of fairness, equity and needs-based.”