Private schools reject union’s funding claims

Private schools have hit out at an analysis of MySchool data which claims that funding to private schools is double that given to public schools.

New analysis, conducted by the Australian Education Union (AEU), shows that between 2009 and 2014 total combined State and Federal Government annual funding for public schools in Australia rose by:
  • $1,539 per student for public schools (increase of 14.6% not adjusted for inflation)
  • $2,332 per student for Catholic schools (increase of 30.2% not adjusted for inflation)
  • $1,911 per student for independent schools (increase of 30.3% not adjusted for inflation)
According to the AEU’s analysis, both independent and Catholic schools now have more resources per student than public schools once fees and other income are taken into account – despite educating far smaller numbers of disadvantaged students.

Total 2014 figures per student are:
  • $17,604 per student in independent schools
  • $12,998 per students in Catholic schools
  • $12,779 per student in public schools
AEU federal president, Correna Haythorpe, said Malcolm Turnbull’s plan to cut Gonski funding after 2017 would fail students and further entrench inequity.

“Malcolm Turnbull’s plan would see gaps in resources between schools grow, and fail to address the inequities caused by a system which gave the biggest funding increases to advantaged schools,” she said in a statement.

“He wants to return to a system which ignores student need and leaves thousands of students without the support they need to succeed at school. His plan for our schools won’t fix the problem, it will cut funding and support to kids who need it.”

However, the Federal Government has pointed out that between 2004-2005 and 2013-2014 Federal funding to public schools grew in real terms by 66%. Funding for private schools, however, grew by just 18%.
Federal Education Minister, Simon Birmingham has claimed that the Coalition’s figures – sourced from Productivity Commission reports – are more reliable than the union’s, and that the AEU and Labor are “selectively using data to peddle a scare campaign”.
The Association of Independent Schools NSW executive director, Geoff Newcombe, agrees.
“The AEU analysis is flawed and highly selective in its use of the data. Incorporating the school fees paid by parents from their after-tax income into the average per student funding amount is clearly designed to mislead,” he told The Educator.
“Citing increases in funding on a per student basis from a particular period is meaningless if you don’t present the full picture behind the data.”
Newcombe said that for the analysis to have any validity it would need to distinguish between state and federal funding, private income, and “the factors behind any funding increases such as additional students with disadvantage enrolling in non-government schools.”