The Greens have backed Australian Education Union calls for Commonwealth, states and territories to close the public school funding gap, but have called for greater ambition and urgency.

A new report shows the public system will continue to be underfunded by $6 billion a year under current agreements. The AEU has called for full funding to all public schools by 2028, but the Greens say funding should be delivered at the start of the next National School Reform Agreement (NSRA), in January 2025.

A recent Greens-commissioned poll found that almost two-thirds of Australian parents believe the public school system is underfunded, while half of all private school parents would move their children to a public school if the system was properly funded.

Greens Education (Primary & Secondary) spokesperson, Senator Penny Allman-Payne said:

“A free and high-quality public education should be a bedrock of any thriving democracy, not a nice-to-have that’s conditional on who’s in government or which way the political winds are blowing.

“The 2011 Gonski reforms were held up as the solution to end funding inequities in the school system, but it was undermined by Labor from the start, which capitulated to the Catholic and Independent school sectors, and further eroded under a decade of Coalition rule.

“Declining student engagement, teacher shortages, falling scores, school can’t, disruption in the classroom – these are all directly linked to the fact that teachers do not have the resources and support they require to give kids the attention and care they need.

“Public schools have been underfunded for decades. Why should students, parents, carers and teachers wait another five years for the bare minimum resources they deserve?

“With the new NSRA due next year, and Labor in power federally and in every mainland state and territory, this is the perfect opportunity to end decades of decline and fully fund the public education system.

“Labor must deliver 100% funding to all public schools at the start of the next NSRA in January 2025.”

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