A new report calls for an end to the school funding crisis that has left public schools in every state and the NT underfunded while private schools are overfunded by hundreds of millions of dollars each year.
The report by education economist Adam Rorris found:
- Public schools will remain underfunded by between $6.2 billion and $6.5 billion a year unless the Commonwealth and state and territory governments significantly lift their investment in new funding agreements due next year.
- Private schools will be overfunded by almost $3 billion in the next five years. At an aggregate level, private schools receive more than their public funding entitlement in every state and territory except the NT.
- The richest schools in the nation are among the ones that will be the most overfunded by the federal government in the next five years, including Haileybury in Melbourne ($19.1 million), Trinity Grammar in Sydney ($14 million), Ivanhoe Grammar in Melbourne ($11.5 million), Newington College in Sydney ($11.2 million), Brisbane Grammar ($11 million), Loreto Kirribilli in Sydney ($10 million), Hale School in Perth ($9.3 million), and Pembroke School in South Australia ($8.8 million).
The report calls for all public schools to be funded by 2028 to the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS), which is the minimum level governments agreed more than a decade ago was required to meet the needs of students.
“Public school systems have been working from a position of extreme underfunding for more than two decades. What is urgently needed is a commitment from governments to end the funding crisis and move Australian public schools to the point where they have the resources needed so they can realistically deliver on the goals for schooling as expected by the Australian community,” the report concludes.
AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe said the report exposed the shocking inequity of school funding, with only 1.3% of public schools resourced to the SRS compared to 98% of private schools.
“If governments can afford to overfund private schools by hundreds of millions each year, they can afford to fund every public school to their own minimum standard,” she said.
“Full funding of public schools is the only way to ensure every child gets every opportunity to succeed. That investment will give teachers more time and support to meet the diverse and complex needs of their students. It will also give them the confidence that they can make a real difference without burning out with unsustainable workloads.
“Public school principals and teachers are doing an amazing job, but they are being asked to do too much with too little. The Albanese Government must honour its commitment to full funding and sign bilateral agreements with state and territory governments next year that put an end to the underfunding of public schools by 2028.
“Only public schools in the ACT are resourced at 100% of the SRS and only the NSW Government has pledged to fully fund public schools within the next five year bilateral agreement with the Albanese Government.
“The Rorris report makes clear there are few countries in the developed world that have a more inequitable distribution of resources to schools than Australia.
“Closing the resources gap is an essential part of closing the achievement gaps between children from different backgrounds, and it is public schools who educate the vast majority of children with higher needs.
“Full funding will help attract and retain teachers at a time of a critical shortage. It will also have huge benefits for the nation, with a recent report concluding that the economic payoff of fully funding public schools would be two to four times the annual cost.”
19 November 2023