Public schools short-changed by $19 billion

A new independent report has revealed that Australian public schools will miss out on $19 billion in funding over the next four years.

The report by economist Adam Rorris (former advisor to the Australian government and the World Bank) uses the government’s own funding figures and enrolment projections to show the shortfall between funding that is available to public schools and the minimum funding that is required to meet a student’s educational needs, based on recommendations from the Gonski Review of Funding for Schooling.

The same figures reveal that the Federal Government will overfund the wealthiest private schools by over $1 billion by 2023 and, while they have put a limit on funding for public schools, there is no maximum amount of funding set for private schools.

On top of the massive recurrent funding shortfall of $19 billion, state or territory funding contributions can also include school transport costs, asset depreciation and the cost of running education standards authorities. These authorities provide service to both public and private schools, yet are charged entirely as expenses for public schools only.

Rorris calls this a ‘segregated rort against public schools’ that deprives them of close to a further $2 billion each year. In total this brings the combined funding shortfall to $27 billion.

AEU Federal president Correna Haythorpe said, “In the week before the budget, this report clearly sets out how the Federal Government is failing public schools. They must address this inequity in funding. “Teachers are working harder than ever to deliver a great public education to larger and more complex classes.

“A shortfall of $19 billion means that public schools, which educate the vast majority students, are missing out on the opportunity to benefit from extra literacy and numeracy help, or any specialist support they may need to help students reach their full potential. Above all, addressing funding shortfall would mean more teachers, for more one-on-one attention for students.”

“COVID-19 has already highlighted the deep divide between private and public schools, and shone a light on the level of unmet need caused by the Commonwealth’s funding failures in recent years.”

The AEU calls on the Morrison Government to fix this inequity by addressing the funding shortfall for public schools in next week’s budget.

5 July 2022