Wednesday, 12 October 2016


Victoria's wealthiest private schools have reaped government funding increases per student that are almost three times greater than those received by the most disadvantaged public schools.

A new analysis reveals that the 35 most advantaged private schools benefited from an average state and federal funding increase of 27 per cent per student between 2009 and 2014.
This compared to a 10 per cent rise at the poorest 37 public schools.

It coincides with a fierce national debate about school funding, with federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham saying that some private schools are over-funded.

Former Productivity Commission economist and public education advocate Trevor Cobbold said his analysis reflected the "deplorable state of school funding".

"These figures demonstrate how woefully misdirected funding increases have been in Victoria in recent years," the Save Our Schools convenor said.

According to the analysis, which was based on MySchool figures, funding per student at the King David School increased by 70 per cent, while it soared by 44 per cent at Korowa Anglican Girls' School and 38 per cent at St Catherine's School.

Meanwhile, Melton Secondary College's funding rose by 6 per cent, while Keysborough Secondary College's funds were cut by 1 per cent.

Funding for Northern Bay P-12 College, which was formed in 2011 following a merger of nine schools, decreased by 18 per cent.

The average per student government funding increase for the poorest public schools was $1035, just slightly higher than the $911 boost for the Victoria's most advantaged private schools, which also charge expensive fees.

Glenroy College had its funding cut by 2 per cent between 2010 and 2014, and principal Paul Dingle said the situation had not improved.

"We aren't building swimming pools, or polo courts. I'm not even repairing buildings. We have been let down by state and federal governments for a long time," he said.

The school has run a deficit for the past three years, and Mr Dingle fears he might have to axe a successful literacy program.

The intensive six month program works with students who lag behind when they start high school, including some whose reading and writing skills are at a grade two level.

It helps them catch up so they have a better chance of understanding mainstream classes. The school is located in an area with high unemployment and caters for a diverse population, including many students from refugee backgrounds.

Education Minister James Merlino said it was "hardly surprising" that funding to independent schools increased under the federal and former state Liberal governments.

"These old figures don't take into account the extra $5 billion the Andrews Labor Government has invested in our education system, which includes a 70 per cent increase in needs-based funding for children at Victorian government schools who need extra help," he said.

Catholic Education Commission of Victoria executive director Stephen Elder said it was misleading to compare funding growth between 2009 and 2014 in percentage terms, because the base funding amounts between the sectors were so different.  

Comparing individual schools was simplistic and could produce flawed results, he said.

He said state and federal government funding was allocated to the Commission as block grants, and then allocated according to school and student needs.

"Factors such as the size of schools – smaller schools lack economies of scale – and the numbers of students with disability are significant influences on how we allocate funding to individual institutions."

While the federal government provides the bulk of government funding to independents schools, state governments are the major funders of public schools. The federal government recently kicked off negotiations with the states and territories on a new four-year school funding model from 2018, which would replace Labor's Gonski deals. Mr Birmingham has said there are "significant and unfair inconsistencies" with the current model, which is a "hotch potch" of deals with different states. 

Independent Schools Victoria said it would not be commenting.

No comments:

Post a Comment