‘To those who have, more will be given’: Largesse to private schools continues

In line with the adage “never let a good crisis go to waste”, the Morrison Government has taken the opportunity of the COVID pandemic to extend its largesse to private schools. The Budget Papers reveal that private schools received over a billion dollars in advance payments in 2019-20 to re-open their schools.

Some of the wealthiest private schools in the country have reaped millions from Jobkeeper. They include The King’s School, St Joseph’s College, Frensham and The Armidale School in NSW as well as Geelong Grammar, Trinity Grammar, Wesley College and Bialik College in Victoria.

The Government also gave $10 million to private schools to offset COVID-19 hygiene costs for items such as soap, hand sanitiser, classroom cleaning products and additional cleaning services. Similar funding was not provided to public schools. 

All this adds to the largesse the Morrison Government has showered on private schools. The main component of this largesse is $3.7 billion in additional funding for Catholic schools over the next ten years as a result of a new method of funding private schools introduced this year. Independent schools lose from this measure but are partially compensated by special funding deals. 

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Media Release: Private School Funding Model is Inherently Flawed

An Education Policy Brief published by Save Our Schools shows that the new funding method for private schools introduced this year by the Morrison Government is inherently flawed and will result in massive over-funding of schools. National Convenor of Save Our Schools, Trevor Cobbold, said the model is littered with flaws and should be replaced by a new approach.

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The Private School Funding Model is Deeply Flawed: A New Approach is Needed

The following is a summary of a new SOS Education Policy Brief. The full Brief can be downloaded below. This article and the Brief were revised on 2 October 2020.

Six months ago, the Morrison Government changed the method used to determine Commonwealth funding of private schools. It adopted a direct measure of the income of families called Adjusted Taxable Income (ATI) to assess their capacity to contribute to school income and thereby determine the level of Commonwealth funding for each private school. It will provide a net funding increase of $3.5 billion to private schools over the next ten years compared to the previous method of funding.

ATI is a deeply flawed measure of the financial need of schools. It will result in massive over-funding of private schools because it badly under-estimates the capacity to contribute of families and ignores other sources of income of private schools as well as their assets. As a result, the financial need of schools is over-estimated and consequently they receive more government funding than warranted.

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Shocking New Expose of Catholic Church’s Rorting of Taxpayer Funding

Documents leaked to the ABC expose shocking rorting of taxpayer funding by the NSW Catholic school system with the approval of Catholic bishops. It is the latest in a long line of exposes about misuse of government funding by Catholic systems and which successive Coalition and Labor governments have meekly acquiesced to.

The new ABC analysis shows that NSW Catholic school authorities will have diverted more than $300 million in public funding from the system’s poorer to richer primary schools by 2023 to keep fees low in wealthy suburbs to maintain market share. The leaked documents show that schools in some of the wealthiest areas collect roughly one-third to half the fees parents at those schools are able to afford while fees in much poorer areas are set at two or three times above what those parents can afford.

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New Review of Evidence That Increased Education Spending Leads to Improved Outcomes

A new paper published by the US Century Foundation reviews studies of two school finance reforms in the US that proved effective at improving student outcomes, especially in low-income and previously lower-spending schools. The two reforms reviewed are new school funding formulae introduced in Massachusetts in 1993 and in California in 2013. Both reforms were based on the principle that school districts serving higher need children require not the same, but more resources per student.

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Catholic School Systems Required to be More Transparent About How They Use Taxpayer Funds

Catholic school systems have been diverting taxpayer funding for schools in poor areas to schools in wealthy inner suburbs for years. Many official and other reports have documented this unethical and unchristian practice. It may at last be about to change.

Catholic and other private schools systems will placed under greater public scrutiny as a result of a new report by the National School Resourcing Board (NSRB). The Commonwealth Government has accepted its recommendations that private school systems disclose more information on how they distribute government funding to their schools.

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Public Schools Face a Funding Crisis; Private Schools Are in Clover

Government funding increases continue to massively favour private schools over public schools according to new figures published by the Australian Curriculum, Reporting and Assessment Authority (ACARA). As a result, Catholic and Independent schools are far better resourced than public schools in every state even though public schools enrol over 80% of all disadvantaged students and 95% of all disadvantaged schools are public schools. This funding trend is set to continue under current funding arrangements and more special deals for private schools from the Morrison Government. This is a recipe for continuing educational, social and economic inequality.

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Funding, Enrolments and Staffing in NSW Public Schools

The following is a summary of a submission to the Independent Inquiry on the Teaching Profession in NSW Public Schools. The full submission can be downloaded below.

The NSW public education system has undergone a huge expansion in bureaucracy since 2003. There was a massive increase in administrative staff in schools and in central and regional offices that is many times greater than the increase in students. Yet, there was only a very small increase in inflation-adjusted funding per student despite a large increase in disadvantaged students. Expanding the bureaucracy was prioritised over funding classroom learning and support. As one former principal told Save Our Schools, it reflects an “increase in roles orchestrating compliance not teaching, learning and curriculum”.

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Turnbull Exposes Rorting of School Funding by Catholic Church

In his recently published memoirs, Malcolm Turnbull thoroughly exposes the hypocrisy of Catholic education authorities in diverting taxpayer funding intended for poor schools to subsidise rich inner-city schools. In doing so, he exposed his own hypocrisy by allowing them to continue to do so under his Gonski 2.0 funding model.

Turnbull says:

I felt too many of the Church leaders were more interested in defending their system and resisting accountability than in fulfilling Jesus’ mission to the poor.

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