The public education group, Save Our Schools, today called on candidates in the state election to commit to fully funding public schools. National Convenor, Trevor Cobbold, said “far from being the education state, Victoria is a failed education state”.
“It was a premature step by the Andrews Government to change Victorian car number plates to read ‘The Education State’. The latest NAPLAN school results show this to be a mistake; the number plates should say: ‘A Failed Education State.’
“Victoria is a failed education state because it has failed disadvantaged students and public schools. Funding failures are a key contributor to the education failure.
“Successive Commonwealth and Victorian governments have failed to fully fund public schools with the result that they are vastly under-funded to meet the learning needs of disadvantaged students, over 80% of whom attend public schools.
“Victoria is a failed education state because:
- 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.
- A large proportion of low SES students do not complete Year 12.
Mr. Cobbold said that there were a few successes, most notably in some Indigenous outcomes, but “they are few and far between”.
“Funding increases by the Commonwealth and Victorian Governments over the past decade have heavily favoured private schools. Funding per student, adjusted for inflation, in Independent schools increased by over three times that for public schools since 2009 and for Catholic schools it was over double that of public schools.
Mr. Cobbold said that public schools also suffered because much of their small increase in funding went on supporting a huge growth in bureaucracy.
“Public schools and disadvantaged students are being robbed of funding to support a bloated bureaucracy devoted to regulation and compliance which requires more administrative staff in schools.
“The current Commonwealth-Victorian funding agreement defrauds public schools of billions. Public schools are currently funded at only 84.6% of their Schooling Resource Standard (SRS). They will be funded at just under 91% if their SRS by 2029 unless the agreement is changed. By contrast, private schools are currently funded at 101.8% of their SRS and will remain over-funded for the rest of the decade.
“Money matters in education, especially for disadvantaged students. If Victoria is to become a successful education state, it must improve outcomes for low SES and Indigenous students, over 80% of whom attend public schools, and reduce the large achievement gaps between rich and poor.
“The next Victorian Government must address the funding failures of the past. Candidates and parties in the election campaign must commit to ending the defrauding of public schools and ensuring they are fully funded within the next four years.”