Principals demand action on school funding gap

Principals demand action on school funding gap

The leaders of Australia’s 5,300 public primary schools have called upon state, territory and federal governments to make “urgent interim arrangements” to address the current funding shortfall impacting Australia’s public schools.

In December, Federal Education Minister Jason Clare announced the decision to delay the highly anticipated National School Reform Agreement for 12 months, saying “a panel of eminent Australians” would inform the next agreement “as a first step to getting every school to 100% of its fair funding level”.

“To provide time for this work to occur, the current National School Reform Agreement will be extended for a further 12 months,” Minister Clare said, adding “the transition pathway for non-government schools down to 100 per cent of the SRS will be unchanged.”

However, the Australian Government Primary Principals Association (AGPPA) says the decision to extend current agreement means the nation’s public schools will continue to receive 10% less funding from the public purse than has been recommended under the Gonski Review.

“The delay to renegotiate the National School Reform Agreement will ensure that this year another 220 000 students, including our most disadvantaged, will leave government primary schools having never received the benefit of the minimum recommended resourcing level,” Pat Murphy, AGPPA president, told The Educator.

“School leaders are particularly frustrated that the agreement negotiated by the former Commonwealth Government means that the soonest most children in a government school will attract 95% of recommended public funding would be 2027 and in some states, not until 2032.”

The Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) is an estimate of the public funding required for a school to meet its students’ educational needs. On average, public schools receive on average 91.40% of the recommended minimum funding requirements.

The Australian Education Union (AEU) says delaying the agreement “delays and denies” critical funding for students in need, particularly those from a disadvantaged background.

“It is past time that Australia’s public schools are fully funded so principals and teachers have more resources and support to effectively deliver learning programmes that suit their students’ needs, without being held back by funding constraints,” AEU federal president, Correna Haythorpe told The Educator.

Haythorpe said the union is expecting the Albanese Government to meet their election commitment of establishing a pathway to 100% of Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) funding for public schools as part of Minister Clare’s upcoming review of funding agreements post the extension of the current NSRA.

“Public education plays a crucial role in educating the vast majority of Australian students. It is high time that this system is fully funded to ensure that every student has access to high quality education and equal opportunity, irrespective of their circumstances or backgrounds.”