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No agreement on school funding

AAP logoAAP 22/09/2016 Tim Dornin

The federal and state governments remain at odds over school funding with NSW fearing a return to the "bad old days" of continual fighting over the distribution of cash from the Commonwealth.

The ministers met in Adelaide on Friday with NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli insisting what was being proposed was "nothing resembling fair".

Other ministers said they were "none-the-wiser" on exactly what level of funding they could expect as federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham dismissed their criticism as "political chest beating".

"I'm pleased that what we got today was a fairly constructive discussion," Senator Birmingham said.

"This was a positive meeting from my perspective and one upon which we can build strong, positive reforms to lift Australia's educational outcomes."

Under a broad plan to increase education spending from $16 billion this year to $20 billion in 2020, the federal government wants to have a new school funding arrangement in place for the start of the 2018 year.

It says it remains committed to distribute funds fairly, according to need, and equitably across the states and territories.

That's likely to see some states do better and some worse than under the current arrangements or the more generous arrangements previously proposed under the full Gonski model from the former Labor government.

Fearing NSW would lose $400 million, Mr Piccoli said the federal government had broken the hearts of a lot of parents, right across Australia.

"We were so close to having a national system of school funding but what's been put to us today, it just raises more questions than it resolves," he said.

"This is really a lost opportunity and I think we're back to the bad old days where we're going to be fighting regularly over school funding and that's always going to come at the expense of students."

South Australian Education Minister Susan Close said SA believed the full Gonski funding arrangements should remain in place.

"The Gonski arrangement is not just about a model for giving money to students who require it, but it is also about the quantum," she said.

"Gonski without the quantum doesn't work. We need to have the money."

The Australian Education Union also called for the full Gonski funding to be retained saying the coalition's plans would rob schools of about $3.9 billion in 2018 and 2019.

It said NSW, Queensland, Tasmania, Victoria and the Northern Territory were likely to face cuts under the Commonwealth's plan.

"Pitting one state against another will do nothing to lift results in schools," AEU federal president Correna Haythorpe said.

"What is needed is to lift our overall investment in schools and target the extra funds to addressing disadvantage."

But Senator Birmingham said Labor's promises would not have been delivered.

"That was a never, never promise by Labor. Beyond the forward estimates, never budgeted, never paid for," he said.

"We are dealing today in reality."

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