Taxpayer funding for private schools has grown at double the rate of government schools, prompting further calls for the Government to commit to the full six years of the Gonski funding reforms.
The recent statistics from the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) revealed that nation-wide Government funding for independent and Catholic schools grew by 23% on a per-student basis between 2009 and 2013.
In comparison, taxpayer funding to Government schools grew by just 12.5% over the same period.
Save Our Schools (SOS) spokesman, Trevor Cobbold, said that the funding given to public schools has not catered for the larger proportion of disadvantaged students they struggle to support.
“Government funding has ensured that independent schools are much better resourced than public schools, even though they cater for a very low proportion of disadvantaged students,” Cobbold wrote on the SOS website.
“Catholic schools have a similar total income per student as public schools, but have a much lower proportion of disadvantaged students.
“Public schools have to do more with their more limited resources because they have a far heavier disadvantage burden.”
Overall, total Government funding for public schools fell by $224 per student, in real terms, between 2009-2013 while funding rose by $716 per student for Catholic schools and $574 per student in independent schools.
The Australian Education Union (AEU) federal president, Correna Haythorpe, echoed Cobbold’s call for better funding of public schools, accusing the Federal Government of having an ideological rather than needs-based approach to school funding.
“The Abbott Government must fund all schools on the basis of need, not political ideology, and that means honouring the full needs-based Gonski agreements,” Haythorpe said in a statement, adding that while public schools educate around 64% of all students, they also have a higher proportion of disadvantaged students.
Ross Fox, National Catholic Education Commission (NCEC) executive director responded to Cobbold with a statement titled Misleading figures used to create false conflict between schools.
The statement, which appeared on the NCEC’s website, claimed the ACARA data cited by Cobbold was “misleading” and slammed him for “pitting sector against sector”.
“These reports, including today’s from Trevor Cobbold, constantly draw upon selective or misleading data to paint an inaccurate picture of non-government schools with the intention of pitting sector against sector,” Fox said.
“Analysis of Australian schools should focus on how to improve the learning and teaching for all students in every classroom rather than pitting school against school and sector against sector as this type of report does.”
Cobbold hit back at Fox, saying the NCEC had “grossly misrepresented the facts” on the funding of public schools.
“Instead of using ACARA’s figures, the NCEC has chosen to use unsourced figures to claim that government funding of public schools increased from $27.3bn in 2012 to $28.2bn in 2013, an increase of 3.2%,” Cobbold said.