Some of Tasmania’s most disadvantaged students live a stone’s throw from the least disadvantaged, a new report shows.
In the North, students in or around Launceston are the best off, tempered by pockets of deeper disadvantage in Ravenswood, Newnham and Mayfield.
Regions around George Town, Sheffield and Railton also show high education disadvantage, alongside the Central Highlands, Southern Midlands and Northern Midlands.
The Educate Australia Fair? Educational Inequality in Australia report, published by the Curtin Economic Centre, says Tasmania’s most disadvantaged areas have double the national rate of children vulnerable in their first year of school.
Two major issues the report highlights is one in five Tasmanian students do not have internet access, and youth engagement rates at work and school are low.
Report author and director Professor Alan Duncan said indications were that state and federal government funding nationally appeared to be “reasonably well-targeted relative to need”.
“Schools in areas of greatest educational disadvantage receive income of $24,100 per student, some 50 per cent higher than the average of $16,400 for the top 50 areas,” Professor Duncan said.
“This demonstrates the need for education policies to go beyond funding reform, and address the complex barriers that exist in delivering education to our most vulnerable children.”
The report further offers a nuanced commentary on needs-based education funding – the heart of the federal government’s Gonski 2.0 school funding that passed the Senate last week.
“What is absent from the current debate on needs-based funding is a clear understanding of the extent to which the funding changes being proposed under Gonski 2.0 would lead to improvements in educational outcomes,” the report says.
A Department of Education spokesperson said the state government had secured $186 million in funding and Senate amendments for additional Gonski 2.0 funding were still being worked through.
“The recent State Budget also provided $5 million over four years to build on and extend successful student re-engagement and flexible learning programs,” the spokesperson said.
“NAPLAN results show that since the introduction of Gonski, Tasmania has closed the gap to Australia in 16 of the 20 assessments.”
Opposition education spokeswoman Michelle O’Byrne said Labor’s Learning Communities strategy, linking schools together in a multi-campus system was a key part of the party’s strategy to improve inequity in schools.