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UNSW Press UNSW Press

Waiting for Gonski

How Australia failed its schools

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Why is education in Australia failing?

Where did we go wrong, and how do we fix it?

The Gonski Review seemed like a breakthrough. Commissioned by Prime Minister Julia Gillard and chaired by leading businessman David Gonski, the 2011 review made clear that school education policy wasn’t working, and placed a spotlight on the troubling and growing gap between the educational outcomes of disadvantaged children and their more privileged peers.

Gonski proposed a model that provided targeted funding to disadvantaged students based on need, a solution that promised to close the gaps and improve overall achievement.

And yet, over a decade later, the problems have only worsened. Educational outcomes for Australian schoolchildren continue to decline, and there is a growing correlation between social disadvantage and educational under-achievement. So why hasn’t Gonski worked, and what should we do now?

Written by teachers Tom Greenwell and Chris Bonnor, Waiting for Gonski examines how Australia has failed its schools and offers inspired solutions to help change education for the better.

Waiting for Gonski provides a clear-eyed, compelling account of the Gonski reforms, recommended more than a decade ago, and why they failed ... In a meticulously researched book, Greenwell and Bonnor set themselves the task of examining how we reached such pervasive inequality.'

Ilana Snyder, Australian Book Review

An intriguing and entertaining read ... highly relevant for those of us working towards educational improvements of any description in Australia ... a comprehensive and insightful evaluation of what’s gone wrong in Australia, and how we might go about fixing it.'

Sally Larsen, EduResearch Matters

Waiting for Gonski forensically maps the sweetheart deals, spin and threats that cynical vested interests have wielded over and over to maintain their own privilege, in the process damaging Australia’s future and throwing our most vulnerable students under a metaphorical bus. Read it and weep. Then agitate.’

Marion Maddox, Honorary Professor of Politics, Macquarie University and author of Taking God to School: The End of Australia’s Egalitarian Education?

Rigorous research compellingly presented, a sharp account of the highs and lows of the Gonski rollercoaster.'

Helen Proctor, Professor in Education History and Policy, Sydney School of Education and Social Work, University of Sydney

Waiting for Gonski is a must-read for all policymakers, educators, and parents who want to know why we ended up having one of the most unequal school systems today and how we can rebuild it so that all children will have a fair go in education that they deserve.’

Pasi Sahlberg, Professor of Education, Gonski Institute for Education, University of New South Wales and author of Finnish Lessons: What can the world learn from educational change in Finland

A forensic and gripping analysis of the power plays and vested interests that flipped Gonski from a needs-based, sector-blind funding scheme to its exact opposite. Greenwell and Bonnor even dare to float some ideas about how we might unravel the unholy mess that education funding has become.’

Jane Caro, novelist, writer and social commentator