Understanding equity in education: New article

Press Release by MCERA on 14 July 2021

The World Bank,  the OECD and the United Nations recently recognised educational inequity as a growing global challenge. But what does educational equity look like and how is it achieved?

“All children have a right to high quality education. This basic principle is stated in international agreements and national education laws. UN’s Sustainable Development Goals expect that the member states “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. In many countries, including in Australia, this goal has become harder to reach.

“Refocusing education policies and leadership on equity, as has happened in Australia and in many other OECD countries, will have little real impact on education systems performance unless policymakers have much better common understanding of what equity in education means and why it is an important part of leading successful education systems,” Professor Sahlberg said.

Sahlberg and Cobbold propose that equity in education comprise both an individual and a social group aspect. 

All children should receive at least a minimum standard of education that enables them to make their own way in adult society while children from different social groups should achieve similar education outcomes. “Our aim is to give an operational definition of equity in education. This is necessary to better guide the development of education policymaking, especially as it relates to equity and its implementation by school leaders and achieving consistent approaches to improving equity in education.”

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Private Schools Brawl to Get Their Snouts Deeper in the Funding Trough

An ABC 7.30 Report last week exposed another brawl between private schools to get their snouts deeper in the school funding trough. A coalition of Independent schools complained they are disadvantaged by the Morrison Government’s new funding model because their funding increase is not as big as others. They want yet another special deal from the Morrison Government as do many other Independent schools.

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Defining Equity in Education

A paper by Pasi Sahlberg and Trevor Cobbold is published in the academic journal School Leadership and Management. The paper reviews approaches to defining equity in education and proposes a unique dual objective comprising an adequate education for all students and similar outcomes for students from different social groups.

Abstract

Equity has become a central principle in educational policy and leadership around the world. However, there is a wide range of interpretations of equity and what it means in education. In this article we explore different definitions of educational equity from policy and leadership perspectives. Our aim is to give an operational definition of equity in education to overcome vague interpretations and better guide the development of educational leadership for more consistent approaches to improving equity in education. We argue that equity in education should refer to equity of educational outcomes and incorporate both an individual and a social group aspect. We then claim that equality of outcomes is more relevant to comparisons between social groups than individuals, and we call that social equity. In current literature one or the other aspect has been adopted as an equity objective, but it appears combining the two elements is much less common. This dual objective is unique in the discussion around what equity in education means and how it could guide educational policymaking and leadership.

Education Dept Still Dragging its Feet on Holding Private Schools Accountable for Taxpayer Funding

Yet another damning report by the Auditor-General shows that the Commonwealth Department of Education continues to fail to fully hold private school systems accountable for how they distribute taxpayer funding. It also criticises the Minister for Education and the Department for failing to meet their parliamentary reporting obligations.

The report found that the Department has made minor improvements since the 2017 report of the Audit Office castigated the Department for failing to ensure accountability and transparency in funding of private schools. However, the new report found that the Department is still not fully meeting its legislative responsibilities eight years after the Australian Education Act was implemented.

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New Figures Reveal Increasing Resource Advantage for Private Schools

Figures recently published by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) on its National Report on Schooling data portal show that income per student of Catholic and Independent schools is much higher than for public schools and that their income has increased six to eight times that of public schools since 2009. The increasing resource advantage of private schools is mainly due to much larger government funding increases than for public schools.

The resource advantage of private schools is projected to accelerate over the rest of the decade to 2029. Commonwealth funding for private schools will increase under special deals not available to public schools and bilateral funding agreements between them and the Commonwealth allow the states to continue to under-fund public schools.

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Morrison Abandons Needs-Based Funding

The following is a section from a new Working Paper published by Save Our Schools on the the abandonment of needs-based funding and the massive funding increase for private schools by the Morrison Government. The Government has completed the demolition of the Gonski funding model begun by the Abbott and Turnbull governments and re-affirmed funding choice as its priority. The paper can be downloaded below.

Comments on the paper are invited. Notification of issues not covered and mistakes of fact, analysis and interpretation will be appreciated. Please excuse any remaining typos and repetitions.Comments can be sent to the Save Our Schools email address: saveourschools690@gmail.com

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Disadvantage accelerates as private school funding rises six times public schools over the decade

Education Minister Alan Tudge has now declared that the school funding wars are over. But they are only over in the minds of the Morrison Government, which has demolished the Gonski fairer-funding model and lavished billions more on private schools.

The war is certainly not over for public schools, with new figures showing them falling further behind. Chronic under-funding of public schools presents huge costs to individuals, society and national economic prosperity.

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Govt Funding Increases are Grossly Unfair – They Favour the Most Advantaged Over the Most Disadvantaged

Government funding for private schools increased by six times that for public schools since 2009-10 according to new research by Save Our Schools. SOS National Convenor, Trevor Cobbold, said the heavy bias against public schools is grossly unfair.

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Private School Funding Increase is Six Times the Public School Increase

The following is a summary of a new Education Research Paper by Save Our Schools on government funding of public and private schools.

Government (Commonwealth and state) funding for private schools increased by over six times that for public schools between 2009-10 and 2018-19. Private school funding increased by $2,164 per student, adjusted for inflation, compared to $334 per student for public schools.

The contrast is even worse in percentage terms. Funding per private school student increased by 22.4% compared to only 2.4% for public schools, that is, nearly 10 times the increase for public schools.

Both the Commonwealth and state government funding changes strongly favoured private schools over public schools.

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More School Funding Means Better Student Outcomes

A new analysis of major studies of the relationship between school expenditure and student outcomes provides conclusive evidence that increased expenditure leads to higher test scores, high school graduation and tertiary entrance. The impacts are much larger for low income than for high income students.

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