The following is an overview of a paper on primary school funding and outcomes prepared for the Australian Government Primary Principals’ Association. It can be downloaded below.
Over the past twelve years, government funding increases have heavily favoured private primary schools over public schools. Since 2009, funding for private primary schools has increased by about three times that for public schools. Funding increases for Catholic and Independent primary schools have ensured their income per student is much higher than that of public primary schools. This provides private primary schools with a large human and material resource advantage.
Public schools are massively under-funded and this will continue until at least the end of the decade unless the current funding arrangements are dramatically revised. Public schools in all states except the ACT will be only funded to 91% or less of their Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) by 2029. By contrast, Catholic and Independent schools will be funded at over 100% of their SRS.
The misdirection of large funding increases to the more privileged Catholic and Independent school sectors has major consequences for national student achievement because money matters in education. Inadequate funding means that public primary schools cannot fully address major learning challenges. Public schools enrol over 80% of low SES, Indigenous, remote area and high disability students. Large proportions of disadvantaged primary school students do not achieve national standards in literacy and numeracy and the achievement gaps between them and high SES students amount to about two years of learning by Year 5.
The new National School Reform Agreement and the new Commonwealth-State funding agreements to be negotiated next year which will apply from 2025 should ensure that public schools are funded at 100% of their SRS. This should include removing the provisions in the current agreements that allow the states to defraud public schools by counting expenditures excluded from the design of the SRS towards their share of the SRS.
Continue reading “Government Funding of Public Prmary Schools”
New analysis of the latest NAPLAN results reveals large achievement gaps in literacy and numeracy between rich and poor students at all Year levels tested. The gaps are up to five and more years of learning by Year 9. Very high proportions of disadvantaged students need of extra help at school to make expected progress through school. The vast inequities harm individual lives, restrict economic growth and foment an unequal and divided society.
Continue reading “Close the Achievement Gaps Between Rich and Poor”
The private school funding model introduced by the Morrison Government is becoming more and more incoherent and irrational. It purports to assess the financial need of private schools by the income of families with children in private schools. However, it ignores a growing source of income and assets of better-off families – the Bank of Mum and Dad. As a result, the Commonwealth Government is increasingly over-estimating the financial need of schools and, consequently, increasing their over-funding.
The Bank of Mum and Dad provides a steady stream of income to more advantaged families. It includes full or partial payment of school fees by grandparents. It also includes money for home deposits or purchases and other expenditures such as cars, household assets, childcare, etc. that frees up income so it can be spent on school fees. None of this income is included in the assessment of the capacity of parents to pay school fees.
Continue reading “Private School Funding Model is Increasingly Incoherent, Irrational and Wasteful”
Save OUr Schools has made a substantial submission to an inquiry on the Victorian education system being held by the Legal and Social Issues Committee, Legislative Council, Parliament of Victoria. The submission can be downloaded below.
The Victorian Labor Government claims that Victorian is the education state. This is a complete misnomer. Victoria is a failed education state. It has failed disadvantaged students and public schools.
- Many disadvantaged students do not achieve minimum literacy and numeracy standards;
- There was virtually no learning improvement by disadvantaged students between 2010 and 2022 and several declines.
- There are large achievement gaps between advantaged and disadvantaged students.
There were a few successes, most notably in some Indigenous outcomes, but they are few and far between. In addition, there have been a significant increase in the proportion of students completing Year 12, although too many still do not achieve this.
School funding failures by the Commonwealth and Victorian governments are a major factor behind these education failures. Public schools in Victoria face a funding crisis. They are massively under-funded while private schools are over-funded. Funding increases over the past decade have heavily favoured private schools. Public schools are defrauded by the current Commonwealth-Victoria bilateral funding agreement. The result is that public schools have far fewer resources than private schools and large learning gaps persist between advantage and disadvantaged students.
Continue reading “SOS Submission to Inquiry Into the State Education System in Victoria”
Public schools in Victoria as elsewhere in Australia face a funding crisis. The key aspects of this crisis are:
Continue reading “The Facts About School Funding in Victoria – An Update”
- Government funding increases have heavily favoured private schools over public schools since 2009;
- Independent and Catholic school in Victoria have a large resource advantage over public schools;
- Public schools are massively under-funded despite enrolling 80% or more of disadvantaged students and will remain so into the next decade unless the current funding arrangements are over-hauled;
- By contrast, private schools are over-funded;
- If Victoria is to truly become an education state, it must fully fund public schools to increase equity in school outcomes.
Save Our Schools (SOS) has called on the Expert Panel reviewing the National Schools Reform Agreement to recommend some key principles to guide the future funding of schools. These principles should include fully funding public schools by 2028, no special deals for private schools, a greater role for the Commonwealths in funding public schools and an end to the defrauding of public schools by state governments. SOS has also recommended the Panel adopt a target of halving class sizes in disadvantaged schools.
These recommendations are outlined in the SOS submission to the Expert Panel. It says that the Panel must consider the funding principles to guide the next NSRA. There is no justification for the claim that school funding is outside the terms of reference of the Panel. Future funding principles are well within its terms of reference because the terms require the Panel to consider how funding can better linked to student outcomes. In part, the terms of reference ask the Panel to ensure public funding delvers on national agreements. This necessitates some basic principles to guide future funding. Developing such principles would not transgress the Minister’s edict that the Panel should not review how the SRS is calculated.
The key principles recommended by SOS are:
- Funding for public and private schools should be based strictly on a needs-basis in order to deliver increased outcomes for students in the priority equity cohorts;
- The Commonwealth Government should play a greater role in funding for increased equity in education;
- The Commonwealth-State funding agreements must ensure that both parties live up to their commitments and responsibilities to deliver equity in education;
- Public schools should be fully funded at 100% of their SRS within the life of the next NSRA;
- The integrity of the SRS must be maintained and not diluted;
- There must be increased reporting on target outcomes and the use of taxpayer funding.
The submission also calls for the next NSRA to support halving class sizes in disadvantaged schools.
Continue reading “The Next Schools Agreement Must Embrace Key Principles for School Funding”
The following is a slightly revised version of a presentation by Trevor Cobbold to a Policy Symposium on Funding, Equity and Achievement in Australian Schools held at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education on 17 April.
Ten years ago, the Gonski funding model promised much to reduce the vast inequity in school funding and outcomes. What we got was the reverse, courtesy of sabotage by successive Coalition governments, which have always favoured choice over equity, and because of the failure of state governments to deliver adequate funding for public schools.
School funding in Australia is in a parlous state. It is heavily biased against public schools and systematically favours private schools in terms of past funding increases, resource levels and current funding arrangements. Fixing this is not on the immediate agenda of the Albanese Government. All it has done is delay addressing it with yet another inquiry when we already know what has to be done.
Continue reading “The School Funding System is Heavily Biased Against Public Schools”
New data released by the Australian Treasury in February shows it is a golden age of income tax concessions for the rich. Tax concessions for the wealthy in Australia are at unprecedented levels. They benefitted nearly $40 billion from seven major tax concessions in 2019-20. The avarice of the rich is robbing disadvantaged schools and other public services of much-needed revenue. It has huge social and economic costs.
The latest tax expenditure statement (now called Tax Expenditures and Insights Statement) shows that the top 10% of taxable income earners received $39.1 billion from just seven forms of tax concessions. The total revenue forgone from these seven tax concessions in 2019-20 was a$84.4 billion and 46% of this went to the top 10% of income earners.
Continue reading “A Golden Age of Tax Concessions for the Rich”
The wealthiest, most exclusive private schools in Australia are raking in millions of dollars in donations and investment income. These millions are ignored in assessing the need for government funding. This is a major flaw in how private schools are funded. The flaw means the schools are massively over-funded by the taxpayer. Funding of private schools must be overhauled.
New figures obtained from the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) show that 50 private schools received $611 million in donations and investment income over five years from 2017 to 2021 (see table below). Donations totalled $461 million and investment income was $50 million. Just 10 schools raked in $291 million, or nearly one-third of the total of donations and investments. The average income from these sources was $12.2 million per school over the five years. This is in addition to their income from fees and other charges.
Continue reading “50 Wealthy Private Schools Raked In Over $600 Million in Donations & Investment Income”
The wealthiest most exclusive private schools in Western Australia are raking in millions of dollars in donations and investment income. These millions are ignored in assessing the need for government funding. It exposes a major flaw in how private schools are funded. The flaw means the schools are massively over-funded by the taxpayer. Funding of private schools must be overhauled.
New figures obtained from the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) show that 11 WA private schools received $69 million in donations and investment income over five years from 2017 to 2021 (see table below). Donations totalled $53.2 million and investment income was $15.8 million. Just one school, Christ Church Grammar, raked in over half the total of donations and investments. The average income from these sources for the other ten schools was $3.3 million per school over the five years.
Continue reading “Wealthy WA Private Schools Rake in Millions in Donations”