Many of the country’s wealthiest private schools are receiving bonus payments from a secretive fund the Turnbull government claims is necessary to help schools transition to its Gonski 2.0 funding model.
On Sydney’s north shore alone, Loreto Kirribilli, St Aloysius’ College and St Ignatius' Riverview are among the 102 independent schools – most of them in NSW - receiving top-up payments from the $7.1 million pool in 2018.
From next year, these schools will also be able to claim extra money from the Commonwealth under the so-called National Adjustment Assistance Fund for historically overfunded schools that “may find it unreasonably hard to adjust” to the Gonski 2.0 arrangements.
The payments come on top of the annual per-student funding doled out by Canberra to private schools.
That is despite these schools being overfunded already, receiving up to 192 per cent of their fair share from Canberra when the target for private schools is 80 per cent (with 20 per cent from the states).
The president of the Australian Education Union, Correna Haythorpe, branded the pot of money a “slush fund” and accused Education Minister Simon Birmingham of striking a secret “special deal” to prop up already-wealthy private schools.
Documents obtained by the union under freedom of information laws reveal 64 of the 102 schools to receive additional funding in 2018 are in NSW, including the elite eastern suburbs schools of Ascham, Kambala and Kincoppal Rose Bay. Victorian schools include the overfunded Melbourne Grammar, Haileybury College and Melbourne Girls’ Grammar.
Although the Department of Education provided the names of schools receiving money from the fund in 2018, it would not say how much extra each school received. In answer to an FOI request, the department claimed it “does not currently have this information”.
In total, private schools will enjoy $47.4 million in additional federal payments in 2018. Of that, $7.1 million will flow directly to selected independent schools ($5.9 million in NSW) plus an extra $36.7 million for Catholic schools and $3.6 million for systemic independent schools.
Ms Haythorpe blasted the "special deal" for private schools, referring to Senator Birmingham's oft-repeated declaration that Gonski 2.0 would remove the special deals put in place by Labor.
“It’s ironic that Simon Birmingham talks about not having special deals in place but at the same time he negotiated a range of special deals that have seriously advantaged the independent sector,” she told Fairfax Media.
From the SMH
I guess it's hard for elite wealthy private schools to adjust to being funded at 192% of the minimum schooling resource standard, so they need special deal top ups from the Turnbull Govt. #Sarcasm
#FairFundingNow smh.com.au/politics/feder… via @smh