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WA and federal governments sign $1.6b education deal

Funding for all West Australian public schools is set to increase from 95 per cent to 100 per cent.

Funding for all West Australian public schools is set to increase from 95 per cent to 100 per cent. Photo: AAP

West Australian public schools are set to be the first in the nation to receive a massive injection of extra funding after the federal and state governments agreed to reforms aimed at improving the education system.

Under the statement of intent signed on Wednesday, funding for all WA public schools will increase from 95 per cent of the School Resourcing Standard to 100 per cent by 2026.

The state’s most disadvantaged schools will be fully funded first, with the Albanese government committing to invest an extra $777.4 million from 2025 to 2029.

Currently, the Commonwealth provides 20 per cent of the funding for WA public schools but this will increase to 21.25 per cent in 2025 and to 22.5 per cent in 2026.

The WA government, as the primary funder of public schools in the state, will contribute 77.5 per cent of the extra investment, bringing the total additional funding to $1.6 billion.

The deal provides a basis for the negotiation of the next National School Reform Agreement and an associated bilateral agreement, which will tie funding to reforms that will improve the education system.

Federal Education Minister Jason Clare said the agreement would deliver a better and fairer education system for WA.

“The Statement of Intent underlines our shared commitment to put all WA schools on a pathway to full and fair funding and invest in the reforms that will help children catch up, keep up and finish school,” he said.

WA Premier Roger Cook said the agreement would boost support for the state’s schools to the “next level” and ensure no child in the public system is left behind.

“Every Western Australian school student deserves access to a quality education,” he said.

NSW Premier Chris Minns said his government had committed to investing a record amount in the state’s public schools but it would hold back the funding until the federal government agreed to contribute.

“We’re in negotiations with the Commonwealth (and) we expect them to come to the table and commit in full to the amount that they’ve pledged previously,” he said.

“We pay most of it but we need the Commonwealth to step up as well.”

The Australian Education Union welcomed the announcement but said there would need to be a bigger investment to fully fund public schools by 2026.

“Only 1.3 per cent of public schools are funded to the Schooling Resource Standard, which is the minimum level governments agreed over a decade ago was required to meet the needs of their students,” federal president Correna Haythorpe said.

Haythorpe said the WA agreement would mean the state’s public schools only reach 96 per cent of the standard and there would be a $233 million deficit.

“Short-changing our schools is short-changing our students at a time when we can least afford it,” she said.

Greens education spokeswoman Senator Penny Allman-Payne said the deal was a “stitch-up” and the schools would not be fully funded under it.

“If this is the model that the federal education minister is looking to roll out to the rest of the country then Labor is leaving 2.5 million public school kids short-changed,” she said.

Currently, no public schools in Australia, except those in the ACT, are fully funded.

– AAP

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