Close the Achievement Gaps Between Rich and Poor

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”

Private School Funding Model is Increasingly Incoherent, Irrational and Wasteful

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”

SOS Submission to Inquiry Into the State Education System in Victoria

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”

The Facts About School Funding in Victoria – An Update

Public schools in Victoria as elsewhere in Australia face a funding crisis. The key aspects of this crisis are:

  • 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.
Continue reading “The Facts About School Funding in Victoria – An Update”

The Next Schools Agreement Must Embrace Key Principles for School Funding

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:

  1. 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;
  2. The Commonwealth Government should play a greater role in funding for increased equity in education;
  3. The Commonwealth-State funding agreements must ensure that both parties live up to their commitments and responsibilities to deliver equity in education;
  4. Public schools should be fully funded at 100% of their SRS within the life of the next NSRA;
  5. The integrity of the SRS must be maintained and not diluted;
  6. 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 School Funding System is Heavily Biased Against Public Schools

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”

A Golden Age of Tax Concessions for the Rich

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”

50 Wealthy Private Schools Raked In Over $600 Million in Donations & Investment Income

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”

Wealthy WA Private Schools Rake in Millions in Donations

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”

Wealthy Qld Private Schools Rake in Millions in Donations

The wealthiest most exclusive private schools in Queensland 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 23 Queensland private schools received $118 million in donations and investment income over five years from 2017 to 2021 (see table below). Donations totalled $84 million and investment income was $34 million. Just nine schools received $83 million over the period. The average income from these sources for the 23 schools was $5 million per school over the five years.

Continue reading “Wealthy Qld Private Schools Rake in Millions in Donations”