Media Release 30 May 2008 – Rich Families Benefit Most from Over-Funding of Private Schools

Thursday May 29, 2008

A study of the SES funding model for private schools released today shows that two-thirds of all private school students are over-funded and that schools serving the wealthiest families are vastly more over-funded than those serving low income families.

The study was done by Save Our Schools, a public education advocacy group based in Canberra.

Trevor Cobbold, SOS spokesman and co-author of the study, said that the analysis demonstrates that private school funding is in need of urgent revision.

“Current Australian Government funding of private schools is incoherent and capricious.

“The SES funding model being continued by the Rudd Government delivers more than $2 billion in over-funding over four years to some of the wealthiest parents in Australia, supporting them to send their children to some of the most elite schools in Australia. In contrast, the poorest private schools get no over-funding.

“It provides preferential treatment of schools associated with one religious group, and major disparities in funding between states. In some cases, there are as many as 7 or 9 different funding levels for schools on the same SES score.”

Mr. Cobbold said that the study has revealed several new aspects of the SES funding arrangements.

“The study shows that the extent of over-funding of private schools is much higher than previously thought:

  • 64% of all private school students are over-funded;
  • 70% of all Catholic systemic school students are over-funded;
  • 56% of Independent school students are over-funded.

“The top 20 over-funded primary schools in Australia received average over-funding of between $2534 and $3072 per student per year during 2005-2007. The top 20 over-funded secondary schools received average over-funding of between $2485 and $3306 per student per year.

“Catholic and Independent schools serving the wealthiest families receive the highest amounts of over-funding per student per year:

  • Catholic primary schools in the highest SES score range of 126-134 were over-funded by $2923 per student;
  • Catholic secondary schools in the score range of 116-125 were over-funded by $2738 per student (there were no Catholic systemic secondary schools in the score range of 126-134);
  • Independent FM primary schools serving the highest income families were over-funded by $602 per student;
  • Independent secondary FM secondary schools were over-funded by $822 per student;
  • Catholic and Independent schools serving the poorest families did not receive any over-funding.

“The study also shows that the extent of inequality in funding schools on the same SES score is much more extensive than previously thought. It shows that schools on the same SES score have several different levels of funding per student. For example, there are 9 different levels of funding for schools on the SES score of 116 and 7 different levels of funding for schools on the SES scores of 109, 114 and 118.

Mr. Cobbold said that the study shows that the SES funding model being continued by the Rudd Government until 2012 is illogical and unfair.

“The SES model is not delivering a systematic, consistent and fair funding allocation system for private schools. It also provides significant levels of government funding to wealthy private schools whose total funding (from private and government sources) is well above the average for government schools.

“The model is in need of urgent revision to better take account of the differing social roles of private and government schools and to better take account of differing levels of student learning needs in schools.”

The estimates used in the SOS study are derived from school funding data provided to the Senate Estimates Committee by the Department of Education, Science and Technology in November 2006. See answer to Question on Notice E527_07, Attachments A and B. It is available at: http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/committee/eet_ctte/estimates/sup_0607/dest/index.htm

Contact: Trevor Cobbold 0410 121 640 (m)

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