Government slammed for Gonski funding failure

THE Federal Government's failure to match the ALP's multi-billion dollar Gonski pledge has been slammed as "short-changing students" and "pathetically inadequate".

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Education Minister Simon Birmingham and Treasurer Scott Morrison hit the hustings on Sunday to sell their plan to give the states and territories an extra $1.2 billion over three years for schools.

Mr Birmingham and Mr Morrison deflected criticism of their pre-Budget announcement that comes with strings attached.

The money will be spent from 2018 to 2020 and will be paid from cuts elsewhere in Tuesday's Budget.

The $1.2 billion commitment, earmarked under the Coalition's overall $73.6 billion student achievement plan, falls well short of the opposition's four-fold Gonski pledge.

Labor says it if it wins the looming double dissolution election on July 2, it will ramp up tobacco taxes to pay for its $4.5 billion roll-out of the highly regarded needs-based education reforms.

The Coalition's announcement yesterday comes hot on the heels of intense lobbying by Australian Regional Media to have political leaders spend more on our region's schools so education gaps between regional and metropolitan students can be closed.

Defending his government's plan, Mr Morrison claimed this was "not a time ... to be throwing money around".

"This Budget is about an economic plan. It's not a typical Budget," he said.

Mr Birmingham said the Coalition's commitment meant schools were receiving "affordable" funding.

"While every Australian student deserves support for their education, we will ensure funding delivered to schools is targeted to the students who need it most and to initiatives that will improve outcomes," Mr Birmingham said.

To get their share of the Coalition money, each state and territory will have to impose literacy and numeracy checks on children as they start school.

There will also be a requirement to set minimum Year 12 pass standards among other changes.

Australian Education Union federal president Correna Haythorpe said the government's announcement short-changed students.

"The extra funding being promised falls far short of what is needed and will see disadvantaged schools and students with fewer resources than the Gonski Review recommended," MsHaythorpe said.

"This means that not all students will get the individual support in the classroom they need to help them succeed."

Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen described the Coalition's announcement as "pathetically inadequate".

"Now it appears they're going to require teachers to do more testing and then not give them the resources they need to fix any problems which emerge in the testing," Mr Bowen said.

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