Trevor Cobbold, Save Our Schools (SOS) national convenor, said that a recent Senate Estimates hearings revealed that the actual school funding increase was about half of what the Federal Education Minister had stated.
Under questioning about the claim by the Green’s Senator, Penny Wright, associate secretary of the department, Tony Cook, said that the source was in this year’s report on government services, published by the Productivity Commission.
However, the point of contention is a table in the report, which showed an increase of real funding – that is, adjusted for inflation – of 21.7% between 2003-4 and 2012-13. That’s about half the figure claimed by Pyne.
“The table referred to by Cook is for aggregate government funding for all schools and makes no allowance for increasing student enrolments,” Cobbold said in a statement.
“A later table in the report shows figures for real funding per student. In this case, the increase from 2003-04 to 2012-13 was only 12.7%, about one-third of the figure claimed by Pyne.”
Cobbold said the figures also include book entry items for public schools, such as the user cost of capital and depreciation, as well as payroll tax, all of which “have no impact in the classroom”.
“It looks like Pinocchio Pyne has been caught out again. Even his own departmental officials can’t save him,” Cobbold said.
“But, what is more significant is that school funding adjusted for inflation hardly increased over nine years. The compound growth rate was only 0.6% per year over the nine years.
“It is little wonder then that no progress has been made in improving school outcomes for disadvantaged students and that the large achievement gaps between rich and poor continue.”