Albanese government must invest in public schools

New figures reveal the vital investment the Albanese Government must make to help end the underfunding of public schools and allow principals and teachers to cut class sizes and provide more individual attention and support for every child.

AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe said 98% of public schools are currently funded below the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS), which is the minimum amount governments have agreed is required to meet the needs of all students.

New figures provided by the Parliamentary Budget Office to Independent MP Andrew Wilkie reveal that an average annual investment of $1.8 billion is required if the Commonwealth is to lift its funding share from 20% of the SRS this year to 25% by 2028.

“What we are calling for are agreements between the Albanese Government and State and Territory governments that finally end the underfunding of public schools and ensure they are all funded to 100% of the SRS by 2028.

“The Albanese Government needs to pay its fair share. That means a minimum of 25% of the SRS in each of the new agreements. We want these agreements to be signed within the next 12 months and for the Albanese Government to start lifting its funding share from next year.

“Fully funding public schools will change lives and lift results. It will allow class sizes to be cut and children to receive more one-on-one attention. It will also give teachers more support in the classroom and reduce their crippling workloads so they can spend more time on lesson planning and professional collaboration.

“Student wellbeing will also be improved with more counsellors and allied health professionals such as speech therapists in schools.

“Closing the resources gap is an essential step towards closing unacceptable achievement gaps between children of different backgrounds and locations.

“The Albanese Government has committed to working with State and Territory Governments to get all public schools to 100% of the SRS. But it has delayed negotiations on new bilateral funding agreements until next year and has not specified when public schools will be fully funded by or what SRS share it will contribute.

“We are saying there must be full funding by 2028. Right now, the underfunding of public schools means there is no funding for one in 10 students. In the Northern Territory, where student needs are highest, it is one in five.

“98% of private schools are already resourced at or above the SRS with the Commonwealth paying at least 80% of the amount for each school.”

Ms Haythorpe said only 1.6% of the Commonwealth budget was currently being invested in public schools ($10.8 billion in 2023/24).

“This is more than affordable, it’s the best investment we can make for the future,” she said.

Media contact: Alys Gagnon, 0438 379 977, [email protected]

13 July 2023