Tom Greenwell and Chris Bonnor, "Waiting for Gonski: How Australia Failed Its Schools" (UNSW Press, 2022)


Anyone interested in how education policy is made and unmade, in school funding models, their historical and contemporary development and their effects on equity, will find this book fascinating.

The ‘Gonski’ review of Australian education funding, commissioned in 2010 by a Labor federal government, sent an expert panel of educators from different sectors on a listening tour of the nation. Submissions from thousands of schools revealed that existing policies were not serving those students most in need of support.

The panel sought ways to respond to the troubling and growing gap between the educational outcomes of disadvantaged children and their more privileged peers. Their report 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. Optimism gave way to intense politicking from lobby groups and many of the Gonski recommendations fell by the wayside or were twisted in ways that reinforced existing inequities.

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. Commonwealth funding continues to be skewed towards wealthier private schools and Australia’s PISA results are moving in the wrong direction. So, the authors ask: why hasn’t Gonski worked, and what should we do now?

Written by experienced educators with a keen interest in policy, Tom Greenwell and Chris Bonnor, Waiting for Gonski examines in detail how and why Australia has failed its schools and proposes solutions for the future.

UNSW Press webpage for Waiting for Gonski.

Tom Greenwell on Twitter: @TBGreenwell.

Chris Bonnor articles for The Guardian.

Alice Garner is a historian, teacher and performer with a PhD from the University of Melbourne, Australia.

Your Host

Alice Garner

Alice Garner is a historian, teacher and performer with a PhD from the University of Melbourne, Australia.

View Profile