School funding claims: Who’s telling the truth?

School funding claims: Who’s telling the truth?

The Australian Education Union (AEU) said new figures on school funding refute the Turnbull Government’s claims of overspending on schools, adding that funding to public schools had barely increased beyond inflation.

The Productivity Commission released the figures on Thursday prompting the AEU to go on the offensive.

They found that total government funding for public schools increased by an average of just 0.6% a year per student between 2009/10 and 2013/14, once inflation was taken into account.

However, during the same period, per-student funding for private schools increased by an average of 3.4% a year.

“It is clear that needs-based Gonski funding is replacing a flawed system that saw the biggest increases go to private schools, despite public schools educating 80% of disadvantaged students,” said AEU federal president, Correna Haythorpe.

“Education Minister Simon Birmingham has been claiming that we have been delivering ever-increasing funds to schools with little results, and using this as a justification for failing to fund the last two years of the Gonski agreements.”

In December, Birmingham said the Federal Government would negotiate funding deals with the states from 2018 - the year two-thirds of the $10bn Gonski funding was scheduled to start flowing into schools.
Rather than providing major funding increases, Birmingham said the focus would be on creating a more straight-forward funding model that held state governments accountable for how they spent federal money.
“I don't see much benefit for anyone if we dedicate two more years of funding just to create more uncertainty down the track. I want a funding system that is genuinely needs-based and is targeting the money where it is most required,” he said.