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.
The Commonwealth Government increased funding for both public and private schools but the increase for private schools was nearly double that for public schools. The Commonwealth increase for private schools was $1,943 per student compared to $994 per student in public schools. Commonwealth funding increases heavily favoured private schools in every state.
State governments took advantage of increased Commonwealth funding to cut their own funding of public schools but increased their funding for private schools despite the large increase in Commonwealth funding. State government funding for public schools was cut by an average of $660 per student compared to an increase of $221 per student for private schools. All state governments, both Labor and Liberal-NP, cut funding for public schools by significant amounts between 2009-10 and 2018-19 while providing small increases for private schools.
There is little prospect that public schools will be adequately funded over the next decade unless there is a dramatic change in Commonwealth and state government funding policies. Under the bilateral funding agreements between the Commonwealth and state governments, public schools in all states except the ACT will only be ever funded at 91% of their Schooling Resource Standard (SRS).
The cumulative under-funding to 2029 is estimated at $60 billion.
The combination of new special deals for private schools by the Morrison Government and continuing over-funding by several state governments will ensure that private schools will be funded at over 100% of their SRS until at least 2029. The cumulative over-funding to 2029 is estimated at $6 billion.
The chronic underfunding of public schools threatens huge costs to individuals, society and the national economy because it means continuing failure to address disadvantage in education. Over 80% of disadvantaged students are enrolled in public schools and over 90% of disadvantaged schools are public schools.
Increased funding for public schools is fundamental to improved education outcomes for disadvantaged students because it provides the human and material resources needed to make a difference in learning. This is supported by numerous overseas and Australian studies and most recently by a comprehensive analysis of the most rigorous studies of the relationship between school funding and student outcomes.