Tony Abbott’s education trick won’t fool parents, teachers or principals

Posted on August 14, 2010


Tony Abbott’s education policy will cut almost $2 billion from education and trades training programs.

The trick with Mr Abbott’s education announcement is that at the end of the day, it’s still a savage cut to schools, students and teachers.

Doing so little for our kids clearly demonstrates Tony Abbott’s lack of judgement and failure to understand the role education plays in making Australia a more competitive economy.

The slogans and empty rhetoric fail to hide the plain truth – Tony Abbott will take Australian classrooms back to the blackboard and duster– no laptops and no NBN gateway to digital world-class learning.

He wants to resurrect the failed and expensive Australian Technical Colleges (ATCs) of the former Coalition Government and axe Labor’s popular Trades Training Centres.

Mr Abbott’s Plan includes:

  • Unfair and underfunded Performance Pay – cutting $425 million from the Teacher Quality National Partnership and replacing it with only half the funding – for an unfair performance pay scheme with no details on how it would work.
  • Less Computers in Schools – cutting half a billion dollars from the Computers in Schools Program, replacing it with a paltry $120 million.
  • Just 30 Australian Technical Colleges – cutting the Government’s 10 year $2.5 billion Trades Training Centre program, where we’ve already funded 230 projects benefitting 732 schools.
  • Other backward plans like revising the MySchool website and the national curriculum.

The Gillard Labor Government has a comprehensive plan to make every school a great school, including:

  • Reward payments for great teachers – developing an equitable national performance management framework for teachers so every teacher receives the same assessment and the best teachers can be identified and rewarded with a bonus of up to 10per cent of their salary.
  • Rewards for School Improvement – developing a comprehensive and transparent National School Improvement Framework which will identify and reward those schools that demonstrate the greatest improvement, $75,000 for most improved primary schools and $100,000 for most improved high schools.
  • Empowering local schools – delivering a national roll out of greater local control for principals and parents over school budgets and the staffing mix, so they can respond to the local needs of their students, and drive improved results.
  • Trades Training Centres – delivering trade training centres so every secondary school student can start learning a trade at school through a nationally recognised qualification. This will ensure young Australians have the skills they need to get the high skilled jobs of the future.
  • Transparent information about school performance – building on the nationally comparable and consistent information available to parents and the Australian community through the MySchool website and providing new online resources to students, parents and teachers.
  • Nationally recognised qualifications for students  – developing an Australian Baccalaureate for senior students and new National Trade Cadetships for students who want to start a trade at school.
  • More Computers for schools – on track to deliver a national 1:1 ratio for students in Years 9 to 12 so they have the vital computer literacy skills they need for the 21st century. This program is on time and on budget.

Federal Labor is making major investments to reverse the under-funding that has held our schools back for too long.

It is clear Mr Abbott doesn’t have the economic judgement to be trusted on any of the big issues facing Australia. By cutting funding from our schools he would deny many young Australians an opportunity to get the skills that they need for the jobs of the future.