​New figures refute Minister Birmingham’s claims on school funding increases

4 February 2016

Figures on school funding released by the Productivity Commission today have refuted the Turnbull Government’s claims of overspending on schools and shown the need for the full six years of Gonski funding to reverse years of inequitable funding of disadvantaged schools.

The PC’s Report on Government Services found that total government funding for public schools increased by an average of just 0.6 per cent a year per student between 2009/10 and 2013/14, once inflation was taken into account.

During the same period per student funding for private schools increased by an average of 3.4 per cent a year.

AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe said that the figures showed funding to public schools had hardly increased beyond inflation in the lead-up to the Gonski reforms, which began in 2014.

“It is clear that needs-based Gonski funding is replacing a flawed system that saw the biggest increases go to private schools, despite public schools educating 80% of disadvantaged students,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“Education Minister Simon Birmingham has been claiming that we have been delivering ever-increasing funds to schools with little results, and using this as a justification for failing to fund the last two years of the Gonski agreements.

“These figures show that his claims are a myth. Increases in public school funding prior to the Gonski reforms were barely ahead of inflation and far behind the increases given to private schools.

“The full six years of needs-based Gonski funding are essential to reverse the inequities of a previous system that skewed funding away from public schools.

“We need Gonski to target funding to disadvantaged schools and students so we can close the gaps in resources and achievement.

“Malcolm Turnbull must abandon his plans to scrap the last two years of the Gonski agreements which would see students would miss out on an extra $4.5 billion in schools funding.

The PC report also confirmed the chronic underfunding of disability in schools, with more than half of students with disability who need funded support at school not receiving it.

Just 5.3% of students with disability received funded support in 2014 – the same percentage as in 2013.

But last December figures from the Nationally Consistent Collection of Data on Disability for 2015 found that 12.5% of students needed “supplementary, substantial or extensive support” at school.

“We have a situation in Australia where more than half the students who need funded help with a disability at school can’t get it,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“That is over 250,000 students whose education and future are at risk because they cannot get the funded support they need.

“Many educators put in a huge effort for students with disability and they need to be backed with resources. Students with disability can require in-class support, specialised programs and equipment or extra individual attention to benefit fully from school, all of which takes time and money.

“The Turnbull Government needs to keep its repeated promise to fund all students with disability according to their need from 2016, and ensure these students have the resources they need to reach their potential.

Media Contact: Ben Ruse 0437 971 291