April 2022 Guest speaker, Tom Greenwell: Waiting for Gonski

Tom is an old friend of the Vintage Reds and we were delighted to hear him speak on his recent book (published last month) which he has co-authored with Chris Bonnor, Waiting for Gonski: How Australia Failed its Schools. (photo courtesy of Canberra Writers Festival)

Tom can be found online, remembering his feelings ten years ago: he was “caught up in the hope and optimism” of the Gonski review.

Here we must confess with regret that notes from this Vintage Reds meeting have not survived. In their absence, here are two reviews of this excellent book:

“There was plenty of excitement across the political divide when the Gonski review into educational funding was released in February 2012.

Led by businessman David Gonski, and commissioned by the then-Gillard Government, the review was designed to reform school funding and lift outcomes for less privileged students through a new needs-based funding model.

It contained 41 recommendations, including an increase of $5 billion per year to schools funding with one third of it to come from the Commonwealth, and a fairer funding framework, including a “per student” funding standard.

Ten years on, some are saying the Gonski review has failed and that, since it was commissioned, educational outcomes have gone backwards.

Anna Kelsey-Sugg, “The Gonski review promised fairer schools funding.
A decade on, these experts say it hasn’t been delivered“,
ABC News online, 28 Feb. 2022

“The first part of the book is an analysis of the context that gave rise to the Review of Funding for Schooling in 2011, commonly known as the Gonski Report. Greenwell and Bonnor devote their first chapter to an overview of the policy arguments and reforms that consumed much of the 20th century, leading to the Gillard government establishing the review. This history is written in a compelling, detailed and interesting way, and contains many eye-opening revelations. For example, the parallels between the 1973 Karmel report and the 2011 Gonski version are somewhat demoralizing for those who feel that school funding reform should be attainable in our lifetimes. Secondly, the integral role that Catholic church authorities have played in the structure of funding distributions that continue to the present day is, I think, a piece of 20th century history that is very little known. Julia Gillard’s establishment of the first Gonski review is thus situated as part of a longer narrative that is … a part of Australia’s cultural legacy.

… Education is at the heart of public policy in many nations, not least in Australia. Waiting for Gonski is as much a cautionary tale for other nations as it is a comprehensive and insightful evaluation of what’s gone wrong in Australia, and how we might go about fixing it.”

from a review by Sally Larsen for the Australian Association for Research in Education, 2 June 2022

“…this important story has to be told and the book, Waiting For Gonski: how Australia failed its schools, should be read by every parent, economist and Australian committed to “the fair go”. … who would have thought a book on school funding would be a riveting read? Authors Tom Greenwell and Chris Bonnor have all the angles covered.”

review by Rachel Wilson, The Conversation, 3 March 2022