New Report Shows Accounting Tricks Cost Public Schools Over $2 Billion in Lost Funding

A report tabled in Parliament last week has confirmed that public schools lost over $2 billion in funding in 2022 because of accounting tricks in the current Commonwealth-State funding agreements. The Federal Education Minister, Jason Clare, has indicated that the accounting tricks will remain in the new agreements being negotiated with the states and will not be reviewed until the next round of agreements due to operate from 2030. As a result, public schools will miss out on about $13 billion in funding over the next five years.

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Government Funding Increases Continue to Favour Private Schools

New figures again demonstrate the bias against public schools in Australia’s school funding system. Government funding for Catholic and Independent schools has increased much more than for public schools since 2009. Government funding has enabled private schools to have a much higher income per student than public schools and to provide more teaching and material resources per student than in public schools. It is extraordinary, but shameful, that Australia’s school funding system so favours the privilege over the under-privileged. The new figures show that the Commonwealth and state governments must fully fund public schools in the new funding agreements being negotiated at present.

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Tasmanian Political Parties Must Step up for Public Schools

School funding in Tasmania is heavily biased against public schools. Government funding increase have favoured Catholic and Independent schools over public schools. Public schools have fewer resources than private schools and are significantly under-funded while private schools are over-funded. There is vast inequity between rich and poor in school outcomes. High proportions of disadvantaged students do not achieve expected standards and the large majority of these students attend public schools. There is an urgent need to ensure that public schools are fully funded to meet their challenges. All Tasmanian political parties must make this commitment in the election campaign.

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Fully Funding Public Schools is Critical for the Albanese Government’s Broad Education Agenda

The recent announcement by the Federal Minister for Education, Jason Clare, that the government wants to raise the percentage of young people achieving a tertiary education to 80% points to the huge stakes at issue in the current negotiations between the Federal and state governments on the next school funding agreements. To have any chance of reaching this ambitious goal, the Albanese Government must increase the low rate of Year 12 completion amongst disadvantaged students. This will be impossible if public schools remain underfunded. Fully funding public schools is critical to achieving the Government’s goal.

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NT School Funding Agreement is a Landmark, But It’s Not the Full Deal

The new school funding agreement between the Albanese and Northern Territory Government is a landmark. It represents a major funding increase for public schools and disadvantaged students in the Territory. Public schools will go from being the most under-funded in the country to nearly full funding by 2029. However, the agreement is not the full deal because it retains accounting tricks that will continue to swindle public schools of funding.

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The Integrity of the Schooling Resource Standard is Subverted by Accounting Tricks

It is supremely ironic that having agreed to a national approach to estimating the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) over ten years ago, the Commonwealth and state/territory governments have subverted that process to swindle public schools out of billions in funding. The integrity of the SRS has been undermined by including non-SRS expenditures as part of the SRS funding shares of public schools contributed by the states.

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Groundbreaking Study Confirms Positive Impacts of Increased School Funding

At a time when the future funding of public schools is being determined by negotiations between the Commonwealth and state/territory governments, a groundbreaking new research paper shows that increasing funding for public schools has positive impacts on student achievement and attainment. Higher school funding, especially for disadvantaged schools increases student test scores, school completion, tertiary participation and improves equity in education. It also shows that capital funding has similar effects. The study shows that these effects are valid in a variety of circumstances and provide a reliable guide for policy makers.

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Labor’s Complete Capitulation to Elite Private Schools….Again!

A few hours of testimony before Senate Estimates last week exposed the canker at the heart of school funding in Australia. The canker is the double standards applied to the funding of public and private schools. The Assistant Minister for Education, Anthony Chisholm, announced that a tax rort worth hundreds of millions of dollars to elite private schools would continue but refused to renounce accounting tricks that swindle public schools of billions in funding. The double standard is despicable. In effect, Labor is refusing to fully fund public schools but private school funding privileges are sacrosanct.

The hearing revealed that the Albanese Government is cowered by the private school lobby. It capitulated to an orchestrated campaign by the private school lobby and its allies to retain its privileged tax deductibility for donations to school building funds and reject a draft recommendation by the Productivity Commission to end the rort. Labor’s capitulation is not surprising given its long record of caving in to the private school lobby such as the special deals that undermined the effectiveness of the Gonski funding model and ensured that private schools would continue to be over-funded.

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Education Ministers Must Renounce Accounting Tricks and Fully Fund Public Schools

Education Ministers meet at the end of this week in the context of ongoing negotiations over a new school funding agreement. The Ministers may not finalise their negotiations at the meeting, but it is important that they agree to three basic principles as the foundation for the new agreements. They are:

  • All public schools will be fully funded by 2028;
  • The accounting tricks perpetrated in the current agreements that swindle public schools of billions in funding will be abandoned;
  • The Commonwealth Government should increase its share of funding public schools.

These simple principles must be agreed on if ministers are serious about delivering a quality public education system for the future. Their adoption would secure the future of funding for public schools and give confidence to principals, teachers and parents for the future of public schools.

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Over One Billion of Taxpayer Funding Squandered on Over-Funding the Richest Families and Schools

New figures reveal a scandalous squandering of $1.3-1.4 billion in Commonwealth Government over-funding private schools that enrol children of the richest families in Australia. The over-funding estimate is based on never before published data provided to Senate Estimates on the median income of families with children in private schools. This over-funding of the schools of the rich is in stark contrast to massive under-funding of public schools that serve the vast majority of disadvantaged students. The current school funding system heavily favours the already advantaged sectors of Australian society at the expense of the most disadvantaged. There is still no plan by governments to correct this grossly unfair system.

The new estimates show that just 105 private schools with a median family income of $209,000 or more a year will be over-funded by $692 million over the period 2022-2028 (see Table 1). These schools are over-funded relative to the amount they should receive as the Commonwealth funding share of their School Resourcing Standard (SRS).  There are 52 schools with a median family income of over $260,000 per year and they will be over-funded by $316.7 million. Twenty-one schools with family income between $234,000 and $260,000 will be over-funded by $163/8 million while 32 schools with a family income between $209,000 and $234,000 will be over-funded by $211.7 million. These 105 schools will receive $4.9 billion in Commonwealth funding during 2022-2028.

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