Gillard ups the stakes again in My School battle

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Gillard ups the stakes again in My School battle

Political football.

The Federal Government has stepped up pressure on the education union to support the controversial My School website by dangling an $11 million additional funding carrot in front of disadvantaged schools.

Education Minister Julia Gillard claimed today that 110 "lower performing literacy and numeracy schools" to benefit from the funding injection would have "missed out... if the My School data wasn't available".

"[These schools]... would have fallen through the cracks," Gillard said.

"It is amazing that an education union would reject additional funding for education simply because they object to giving parents more information about their local schools."

Union president Angelo Gavrielatos said Gillard was trying to "cover the flaws in the My School website by misrepresenting the union's position on school funding."

He said the union had welcomed the new funding, although he said the amount was "inadequate" to address the issues.

"What we questioned is why this $11 million could only be allocated after the My School website went live," Gavrielatos said.

"There is a wealth of data on school performance and student background collected by state and territory governments.

"Already much of the $2 billion [previously] promised [to schools] by the Federal Government is being distributed on the basis of that data.

"The only difference the My School website has made is to introduce an index which produces like school comparisons which are clearly misleading and wrong."

The Government has been locked in a long-term battle with the union over the My School website, which surfaces data from national tests of students and uses an index to enable parents to compare "like" schools.

The union wants to stop the website being used for the creation of "league tables" which it said were used to name and shame underperforming schools.

It has threatened that teachers will boycott the next round of national tests that feed data to the My School website if the Government doesn't back down.

Gillard has countered by "not ruling anything out" when it comes to disciplinary or legal action if the teachers make good on their threat.

The index methodology underpinning the site has also been heavily criticised for anomalies that make some of Australia's richest and poorest schools "statistically similar" to one another.

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