Prime Minister Julia Gillard used a visit to Our Lady of Mercy College in Parramatta today to announce possible changes to federal funding of schools aimed at counter acting state government cuts.
Ms Gillard said the government would look at ways to change the indexation of funding so the Premier Barry O’Farrell’s plans to slash the education budget by up to $1.7 billion do not affect the amount of federal funding to schools.
‘‘Unfortunately schools like this one across the state of NSW are faced with cut backs,’’ Ms Gillard said.
‘‘That’s at risk of causing a double whammy for schools because state government Liberal cut-backs feed into the way in which we index our payments to schools.
‘‘There’s been a problem where it has been unpredictable for schools and now it has been hit by state Liberal government cut backs.’’
Federal funding for schools is adjusted annually using a measure called the Average Government School Recurrent Cost.
The amount is based on state and territory spending on public schools and is used to work out ‘‘extra’’ federal funding to private schools.
So state government reductions in funding automatically reduce the amount of commonwealth government funding.
Ms Gillard, who was joined by Education Minister Peter Garrett and Parramatta MP Julie Owens, played up her government’s credentials on education.
‘‘This is a great school and I want every school around the country to be a great school, I want to make sure every student has the opportunity to get a great education; and that takes a combination of things,’’ she said.
‘‘You need great teachers, and I’ve met some here today, a good school leadership . . . and support from the community it it also takes the right level of resources in schools we’re absolutely determined to keep building on what we have done so far for Australian schools so we have got a future where our education system is among the top five in the world.’’
The Prime Minister said her government would start consultations with public and private schools to try and devise a new system of funding.