A report published today by the public education advocacy group, Save Our Schools, finds that two voucher models of school funding proposed to the Gonski Review would deliver billions of dollars in additional funding for private schools and no increases for government schools.
Trevor Cobbold, author of the report and national convenor of SOS, said the proposals would provide an outlandish funding bonanza for private schools and should be rejected by the Review.
“The two models would give a massive boost in government funding to private schools over their actual funding in 2009. The voucher model proposed by Independent Schools Victoria (ISV) would deliver an additional $3.3 billion a year – $1.8 billion to Independent schools and $1.5 billion to Catholic schools.
“The model proposed by the Centre for Independent Studies (CIS) would provide an additional $2.5 billion a year – $1.6 billion to Catholic schools and $0.9 billion to Independent schools.
“At best, government schools get no increased funding and, at worst, a massive reduction. The ISV model would strip $2.5 billion from government schools.”
Mr. Cobbold said that the report shows that the biggest funding increases would go to the wealthiest Independent schools.
“It is a case of sheer greed and naked self-interest. Overall, 80 of the wealthiest private schools in Australia would collect $970 million in base funding a year under the ISV model compared to $380 million in total government funding in 2009.
“The ISV model would give 21 elite NSW Independent schools a funding increase of $191 million a year, or 207%, over their actual government funding in 2009. This includes an increase of 337% for Scots College, 313% for SCEGGS Redlands, 286% for Ascham, 269% for Cranbrook, and 257% for Sydney Grammar. Over 80% of students at the 21 schools are from the highest SES quartile and only 1% is from the lowest SES quartile.
“In Victoria, 21 elite Independent schools would get an increase of $174 million a year, an increase of 204% over their actual government funding in 2009. Funding per student for St. Catherine’s would increase by 374%, Lauriston by 308%, Korowa by 291%, Melbourne Grammar by 278%, and Scotch College by 273%. Eighty per cent of students at the 21 schools are from the highest SES quartile and only 1% is from the lowest SES quartile.
“The CIS model would also deliver a funding bonanza to the wealthiest schools. Independent schools with fees over $5,000 will receive a total of $1.8 billion a year in base funding while similar Catholic schools will get $0.5 billion.”
“The CIS concedes that “some independent schools clearly do not ‘need’ public funding” and that “it is difficult to justify providing extra public funds to already well-resourced students and schools”. However, it then proposes to give them over $2 billion a year in additional government funding.”
Mr. Cobbold said that these massive increases in government funding would give private schools a huge resource advantage over government schools.
“Under the ISV model, total resources (from private and government sources) per student in Independent schools will be nearly double that of government schools while that of Catholic schools will be 30% higher. Total resources in Independent schools will be $19,609 per student and $13,511 in Catholic schools compared to $10,467 in government schools.
“Under the CIS model, total resources for Independent schools will be $17,847 per student and $13,706 in Catholic schools compared to $11,448 in government schools.
“Such huge resource advantages for schools which have much lower proportions of students from low income families than government schools can only exacerbate inequity in education. Massive funding increases would go to higher SES students in private schools rather than those most in need, the vast majority of who are in government schools.
“Even the author of the CIS model concedes that voucher models are “extraordinarily expensive” and “would require billions of dollars of additional public expenditure”. These billions would be far better and more efficiently spent on reducing the massive achievement gap between rich and poor in Australia.
“The Gonski Review stated repeatedly that its focus is on improving equity in education. Given this, it has no alternative but to reject these models as the basis for the future funding of Australian schools.”