Razor Gang Should Review Over-Funding of Private Schools

Save Our Schools, a public education advocacy group, has called on the Rudd Government to include private school over-funding in its review of Federal Government expenditure.

SOS spokesman, Trevor Cobbold, said that over-funding for wealthy private schools should not be quarantined from the razor gang.

“It is unfair to ask the rest of Australia to “brace for pain” in spending cuts while massive over-funding of wealthy private schools is excluded from review by the Rudd Government’s razor gang.

“Nearly 50 per cent of private schools are over-funded according to a secret Federal Education Department report leaked at the weekend. It says that some schools will be overpaid by as much as $23 million each over the next funding cycle.

“Save Our Schools’ own analysis of private school funding data shows that many schools have been over-funded by $10-15 million each in the last four years. The overwhelming proportion went to more wealthy schools.

“Many of the wealthiest schools are over-funded by $2000-$3000 per student each year. In contrast, some middle-income schools are over-funded by as little as $8 per student and low socio-economic status (SES) schools have no over-funding. Average over-funding per student increases with the SES scores of schools.

“It would be an appalling injustice if welfare and community services and jobs were cut by the Federal Government while schools charging $15,000 or more in fees continued to be massively over-funded. The rich should be required to sacrifice the bonus in private school funding they have been getting for far too long and which will continue to increase if it is not reviewed.”

Mr. Cobbold said that reducing over-funding to private schools could contribute significantly to the overall savings goal of the Rudd Government.

“The Federal Education Department review of private school funding found that these schools were over-funded by more than $2 billion over four years to 2008. It says that private schools will get up to $2.7 billion more than they are strictly entitled to under the next four-year funding agreement beginning in 2009.

“The Rudd Government is committed to finding $3-4 billion in savings next financial year. Reducing over-funding to private schools would contribute about $675 million per annum – about 20 per cent of the total savings the Government is looking for.

“A review of private school over-funding would not affect funding for disadvantaged private schools. Private schools assessed as being low SES are not being over-funded and would not lose from a review.”

Mr. Cobbold said that a review of over-funding to private schools is long overdue.

“Well-off private schools have been massively over-funded since the ‘no-losers’ provision was introduced with the SES funding model in 2001 by the Howard Government. A recent report of the Australian Council for Educational Research states that private school funding is disproportionate to the needs of the sector. It is time it was reviewed.”

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