Some of Victoria's wealthiest private schools have reaped huge government funding increases, while disadvantaged public schools have been hit with cuts.
The average public funding of some of Victoria's most elite private schools increased at eight times the rate of the neediest public schools, a new analysis reveals.
Korowa Anglican Girls' Schools has emerged as one of the biggest winners of Australia's "incoherent and unfair" funding system, according to an analysis of the most recent My School data by Trevor Cobbold, a former Productivity Commission economist and convenor of public education lobby group Save Our Schools.
Mr Cobbold found that the average state and federal government funding increase per student for selected Victorian private schools was 25 per cent from 2009 to 2013, compared to 3 per cent for selected disadvantaged state schools.
Public funding per student at Korowa increased by 38 per cent over this time. The Glen Iris school charges international students $40,450 and domestic students $29,700 for Year 12 tuition.
During the same period, funding for Westall Secondary College, a disadvantaged state school in Clayton South, decreased by 7 per cent.
"Government funding for Korowa increased by 38 per cent; St. Catherine's by 30 per cent; Melbourne Grammar by 29 per cent; Genazzano FCJ College by 26 per cent; and Firbank, Haileybury College, PLC and Xavier College by 25 per cent," the report said.
Glenroy College, which The Age revealed last week accommodated asylum seekers living in detention, was hit with a 3 per cent cut.
Mr Cobbold said that this pattern of funding would continue unless the Turnbull government funded the final two years of the Gonski agreement.
But Mr Cobbold pointed out that in many cases, funding increases for disadvantaged schools exceed those for elite private schools.
"Nevertheless, the funding contrasts and inconsistencies presented above do show how distorted, incoherent and unfair Australia's school funding system has become," he said.
State schools also receive a much greater amount of total government funding per student – however they do not charge tuition fees and enrol many more disadvantaged students.
Only 1 per cent of students at the 16 selected private schools were from the most disadvantaged backgrounds, compared to 61 per cent in the 17 selected state schools.
While Camberwell Grammar received $3703 of government funding per student in 2013, Braybrook College received $11,981 per student.
Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham said Commonwealth funding per state school student had grown at more than three times the rate of per student funding in the non-government sector in the 10 years to 2013-14.
He said government schools had always been the primary responsibility of state and territory governments.
"The Turnbull Government will consider schools funding from 2018 onwards to ensure it is spent entirely on outcomes and is fair, transparent and needs-based," he said.
At Noble Park Secondary College in Melbourne's south-east, more than two-thirds of students come from non-English speaking backgrounds. It received a 6 per cent increase in public funding between 2009 and 2013, but recently benefited from extra state government funding for disadvantage.
Principal Pam Dyson said more funding would let the school employ more teachers to help these students learn English.
"It doesn't seem equitable," she said. "The non-government sector does not accept all students. We accept all students and our needs are very great."
A spokesman for Victorian Education Minister James Merlino said Victoria's reforms were delivering an extra $566 million in needs-based funding.
"The Andrews Labor government recognises that more must be done to better meet the needs of disadvantaged students and that is why it is committed to making Victoria the Education State. "
Independent Schools Victoria chief executive Michelle Green said focussing on percentage increases was "misleading"
@theage on Twitter | theageAustralia on Facebook