Coalition attacks Labor $16.2bn school funding gap claim

One of the core planks in Prime Minister Julia Gillard's campaign to win support for Labor's Gonski education reforms has been called into doubt by the opposition, according to The Australian.

The Coalition has questioned Education Department budget estimates that Labor has used to claim that schools will lose $16.2 billion worth of funding over the next six years if the Coalition wins September's federal election.

The $16.2 billion figure Ms Gillard cited in a letter to premiers urging them to accept her Gonski education reforms by the end of June is based on a scenario included in the recent federal budget that predicted a three per cent rate of growth in school funding.

But the Coalition has questioned why that figure was revised from the six per cent school spending growth forecast included in both last year's federal budget and October's mid-year economic and fiscal outlook.

The revised figure inflates the funding advantage of Labor's Gonski reforms compared with the existing system if it were to be left in place by a Coalition government.

“If you endorse Mr Abbott's plan, you are endorsing a loss of $16.2 billion for Australia's schools,” Ms Gillard said during a visit to a Canberra school earlier this week.

Coalition education spokesman Christopher Pyne has written to the Education Department seeking an explanation for the revised projections, expressing the opposition's “concerns” about the education funding projections, The Australian added.