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Pyne abandons Gonski model

The government says it will retain Labor's funding levels for school education, but will introduce a new model for distributing the money from the 2015 school year.

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Premier Barry O'Farrell has blasted his federal colleagues for abandoning the schools funding agreement he struck with the former Labor government, saying they should stop acting like an opposition.

You have got to stop behaving like an opposition. 

Mr O'Farrell singled out Education Minister Christopher Pyne for criticism after he learned through the media that the funding promised to NSW as part of the Gonski reforms was at risk.

NSW premier Barry O'Farrell.

Barry O'Farrell: "We will hold the Commonwealth to the agreement we signed." Photo: Dominic Lorrimer

"Can I just make this point to the federal Education Minister," he said. "In all my years in politics, I have worked out that it is best to have respectful discussions and consultations in private, not through the media.

"And secondly, when you move into government, you have got to stop behaving like an opposition."

Mr O'Farrell said the schools funding issue had been poorly handled by the Abbott government. He wrote to Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Monday to express his concerns.

Coalition frontbencher Christopher Pyne says the government does not agree with the views of business adviser Maurice Newman.

Christopher Pyne: says education funding model is a shambles. Photo: Glenn Hunt

The Premier said he was concerned about the way Mr Pyne is "dictating this debate through the media and not doing what any other reasonable minister, state or federal would do, which is to pick up the phone and explain what the hell is going on".

"This issue has been escalated because of the poor way in which it has been handled and that is not acceptable when we are talking about the education of future generations of Australians," he said.

Mr O'Farrell said Mr Pyne's public comments suggested the Commonwealth "would deliver fewer dollars to NSW".

Adrian Piccoli.

Adrian Piccoli: says funding already allocated to support vital education policies. Photo: Kate Geraghty

"We have a signed agreement with the Commonwealth government," he said. "It is for a set amount of dollars and I expect – on behalf of students, teachers and parents across NSW – the federal government to deliver those funds.

"We will hold the Commonwealth to the agreement we signed. But my concern is this: yes, Mr Pyne is making certain statements in the media, but we don't have the details, we don't have an understanding."

A clearer picture was expected to emerge by Friday at the national meeting of commonwealth and state heads of government.

NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli said he expected the federal government to honour the agreement he had made with the Gillard government. He said funding promised under the so-called Gonski reforms had already been allocated to support vital NSW education policies and programs.

"The envelope that the NSW government received prior to the election had $5.1 billion in it over six years, and that's what we expect the envelop to remain," Mr Piccoli said.

Mr Pyne sparked alarm in the education sector by saying the needs-based funding model legislated by the Gillard government was a shambles and he planned to create a new funding model.

He told the ABC he would renegotiate all funding agreements with signatory and non-signatory jurisdictions.