Australian Education Union Federal (AEU) president Correna Haythorpe says Malcolm Turnbull has ignored the needs and wants of the public by delivering a budget which benefits big business, instead of delivering fairer funding for public schools.
"Malcolm Turnbull has abandoned students in public schools who need additional support in the classroom,” Haythorpe said in a statement.
“A government that can find $65 billion for corporate tax cuts can surely find the funding required to ensure every child gets a high quality education."
Haythorpe is also critical of the government's decision to allocate $250 million dollars in additional funding for school chaplains over the next four years, which she says is diverting much needed resources from other areas.
“These funds are desperately needed in our schools to provide professional school counselling services, ongoing professional development for principals and teachers, and student well being programs,” she said.
“For those children who need learning extension, or those children who need extra help, those additional resources matter."
Haythorpe says the budget's failure to deliver on education is the latest in a chapter of failures in the sector.
“This government has badly bungled this education reform process from the start."
"Without any thought about what was required or any consultation with the states, it decided last year on a funding plan that stripped $1.9 billion from public schools in 2018 and 2019.
“That plan will leave 87 percent of public schools below the national Schooling Resource Standard by 2023, a benchmark the first Gonski Review said all schools needed to be funded to.
“To rub salt to the wound, public schools will receive zero capital funds for much-needed new and upgraded classrooms, while private schools will reap the benefits of Turnbull’s $1.9 billion in capital works special deal.
“The Turnbull Government has failed to deliver on the promise of the first Gonski Review which would have delivered fairer funding for public schools and has failed to deliver any additional resources to implement the recommendations of the second Gonski review,” Haythorpe said.
The AEU is similarly critical of the budget in the areas of disability, TAFE and preschool funding.
Haythorpe says funding for public school students will be slashed under the Turnbull government's plan, with resources for Tasmania and the Northern Territory cut by 45 percent and 35 percent respectively.
“This budget is yet another glaring example of the government’s complete disregard for the needs of students with disability who require additional support and resources.
“The government must work with the appropriate school and disability sector organisations to ensure the needs of students with a disability are met and at an absolute bare minimum they must restore the funding cuts,” she said.
The government has failed to address systemic under-funding in the TAFE , the AEU says, throwing the future of the sector into further doubt.
“This budget represents a missed opportunity for the Turnbull Government to restore more than $177 million in cuts it made in the 2017 budget.
“[It's] a backward step for TAFE and the VET sector in its entirety, with Turnbull cutting three per cent in real terms to VET over the next three years.
“The Australian Education Union wants the Turnbull Government to commit to a minimum of 70 per cent of all vocational education funding guaranteed for TAFE and for the government to reverse its cuts to the sector."
Australia has also continued to underinvest in early childhood education by international standards, according to the AEU.
“The most recent Gonski report highlighted the critical importance of early childhood education to success at school, stating that the foundations for excellence in learning are laid early in life,” Haythorpe said.
“In spite of this, the Turnbull Government has yet again cast a shadow of uncertainty over the early childhood education sector by only committing $440 million in funding for 2019 instead of permanent funding.
“The Australian Education Union urges the Government to commit to permanent funding of 15 hours universal access for all four year olds in order to deliver positive outcomes for children in the early stages of their learning,” she said.