Funding reform for schools and higher educationdominated much of the conversation in 2017

Funding debates will likely spill into the new year. Shutterstock

The year 2017 is finally coming to an end. How much do you remember about the year in education news? In true education fashion, I created a handy pop quiz to test and improve your knowledge. Let us know in the comments how you scored!

Show me the money

This year, the federal government set out an extra A$18.6bn for schools over the next decade in the federal budget in May. At the same time, it announced it would be saving money on higher education and lowering the mandatory HELP debt repayment threshold to A$42,000 to force faster repayment.

The higher education reform bill failed to pass the Senate in mid-October.

December brought a new round of university funding cuts. The government announced it would be pursuing cuts to university funding in ways that didn’t need Senate approval in the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook.

There was also lots of talk of Gonski 2.0 this year, a reboot of the original needs-based funding model proposed in the 2011 review of school funding.

And despite the fact we spend more than the OECD average on education, the VET sector is still missing out.

Same-sex marriage

2017 was also the year of the same-sex marriage postal survey, and the debate got quite ugly at times. We fact checked whether Safe Schools would be mandatory if it is legalised. We found no link between the federal Marriage Act and the Australian Curriculum.

We also took a look at what LGBTQI+-inclusive sex-ed would look like in schools, now that same-sex marriage is legal.


Are we making progress on Indigenous education? series looked at policy, Indigenous leadership, history books, bilingual education and the impact of boarding school.

Another series on standardised testing examined its pros and cons, including appropriate uses for standardised tests and which students are disadvantaged by them.

Testing the nation

The latest round of PIRLS data was released in December, which showed Australian children are still struggling with reading. This brought back the debate about whether a phonics test in year 1 would be beneficial or not.

And, as always, NAPLAN results caused a stir. This year, we reported results have largely flat-lined in literacy and numeracy.

2017 has been a year of lengthy funding debates, which are likely to spill into 2018 and beyond. Hopefully, it will also bring more good articles and interesting education research from our wonderful academic authors.

Sophie Heizer, Assistant Education Section Editor

The Conversation

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