Funding gap between public and private schools revealed

The deep funding inequality facing public schools has been revealed in the latest ACARA My School data, which shows that independent schools nationally have 40% more net recurrent income than public schools, while Catholic schools have 4% more income.

This is despite the fact that public schools educate the vast majority of students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The inequality is even more pronounced in Victoria where the Catholic school system is projected to receive more state and federal government funding per student than public schools by 2020 if its recent rate of funding growth is maintained.

In Victoria's five key marginal electorates – Chisholm, Corangamite, Dunkley, Deakin and La Trobe – Catholic schools receive more state and federal government funding than public schools.

The current gap in state and federal government funding between Catholic and public schools is largest in La Trobe at over $1,300 per student (13.1%). In Dunkley, the gap is $654 per student. In Chisholm, it is $567 per student.

The data also shows that, in Victoria:

  • public schools remain by far the lowest funded in the country
  • private schools had 70% more recurrent income to spend per student than public schools – the largest gap in the nation
  • private schools are spending three and a half times more on capital works than public schools.

According to the latest My School figures, national net recurrent funding for government schools in 2017 was $14,198 per student, for Catholic schools was $14,764 and for independent schools was $19,966.

These figures highlight the urgent need for fairer funding arrangements for public schools, highlighting the growing resource gaps between public and private schools.

Net recurrent income per student is the best measure of the total resources schools have to spend on the day-to-day education of students, as it includes all sources of funding, including school fees.

Response from the AEU:

“When Catholic schools are getting more state and federal government funding than public schools you know how unfair the system has become,” says AEU federal president Correna Haythorpe.

“These figures don’t even take into account the $4.6 billion Mr Morrison handed to private schools last year.

“Public schools educate the vast majority of students from disadvantaged backgrounds and yet they are operating in many states with thousands of dollars less per student than private schools.

“Public schools are also the fastest growing schools and yet the Commonwealth has stopped providing any funding for capital works. The Morrison government has been caught out diverting millions in capital funding to wealthy private schools for dance studios, fitness areas and cafes while giving nothing to public schools to cope with rising enrolments.

“We know this situation is only going to get worse. We’ve had six years of the Federal Coalition fixated on cutting public school funding. The Morrison Government’s record of favouring private schools over public schools is a clear guide to what we will see for another three years if it is re-elected.”

“If this is the Morrison Government’s idea of a fair go for public schools, then the Morrison Government needs to go,” Ms Haythorpe said.

MEDIA CONTACT: Aliya Ahmad 0428 684 307


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