Victorian public school students need extra investment

The Productivity Commission’s latest Report on Government Services (RoGS) has revealed that Victorian public school students continue to be overlooked with government funding for Victoria trailing behind the rest of the country.

For combined state and federal spending, Victoria’s per-government school student recurrent funding allocation was $17,974 in 2018-19; a staggering $1354 less than the national average.

Compared to the national average, a school with 500 students is missing out on more than $670,000 each year, or approximately seven additional teachers.

Australian Education Union (AEU) Victorian Branch President Meredith Peace said the numbers were disappointing for Victorian public school students and staff as well as Victorian families.

“The fact that Victoria remains at the bottom of the funding ladder, and by a considerable margin, is really concerning and frankly not good enough, and means that Victorian public school students have been the lowest funded for more than a decade.

With both federal and state governments currently preparing their May budgets, the AEU urged both levels of government to prioritise closing the gap and putting more funding into Victorian public schools.

“The upcoming budgets present a perfect opportunity to begin addressing the funding inequalities that the RoGS has outlined and make sure the funding gap between public and private students does not continue to grow.”

The report also showed that funding for private schools continues to balloon while public school funding has not kept up.

“The Victorian government has made important investments in our public schools, including this year’s tutor program, but long-term increases are needed to meet the needs of students and staff alike.

“Funding public schools to at least the national average would see additional teachers and support staff being employed in 2022 and beyond. Extra staff will not only improve the individual learning of all students but also help address excessive workload issues which are hampering our schools.”

According to the report, government funding for non-government schools rose by 33.9 per cent while per-student government funding for public schools only increased by 13.2 per cent in the ten years to 2017-18.

“These figures are yet more evidence that the Morrison Government is prioritising funding for private schools at the expense of the public system and those who use it, and this urgently needs to change.”