The fact is that Catholic and Independent schools have been favoured over public schools by government funding increases since 2009. Governments have ignored need in the public sector. Public schools enrol the vast majority of disadvantaged students who need additional funding support to achieve similar results to more advantaged students. In 2013, public schools enrolled 82 per cent of low SES students compared to 12 per cent in Catholic schools and only six per cent in Independent schools. Public schools enrolled 84 per cent of Indigenous students compared to 10 per cent in Catholic schools and only five per cent in Independent schools.
The NCEC says that the funding increases for Catholic schools reflects their needs and cites increases in students with disabilities and Indigenous students. Let it be clear, SOS fully supports funding increases for such students whether in public or private schools. What we object to is the discriminatory approach taken by governments whereby the sectors with a small minority of disadvantaged students received significant increases in funding while funding for the sector with the large majority of disadvantaged students has been cut. Enrolments of students with disabilities increased significantly in all sectors between 2009 and 2013, but it was only public sector funding that was cut.
We also object to governments providing funding increases for elite private schools that have none or very few disadvantaged students while public schools have their funding cut.
Finally, SOS welcomes statements by the NCEC that government funding for schools should be based on need. SOS would be pleased to work with the NCEC to ensure that future funding increases are directing at reducing the impact of disadvantage in education in both the public and private sectors and this can best be done by endorsing and working to improve the Gonski funding plan. The NCEC should be supporting concerted action to force the Abbott Government and Bill Shorten to commit to continuing and expanding support for disadvantaged students, irrespective of sector, not engaging in ham-fisted manipulation of the real funding figures.