Disability claims boost private school funding

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17 October 2017

Figures obtained by the Australian Education Union under freedom of information show that of a Federal disability funding increase of $106.8m across all schools over 2017–18, Victorian private schools are set to receive $59.6m, or 55.8 per cent.

‘The Federal Government’s own figures show that more than half the total funding increase for students with a disability goes to Victorian independent schools,’ said Australian Education Union Federal President, Correna Haythorpe.

Together with the apparent recalculation of the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) for some wealthy Victorian private schools, the figures raise questions about why schools viewed as overfunded in 2017 are projected to be underfunded in 2018, placing them in line for a big funding boost.

Across private schools, the percentage of students claimed as having a disability has risen markedly as a proportion of their enrolments (to 26 per cent) compared both to public schools (17 per cent) and schools in the Catholic sector (13 per cent).

The national increase in disability funding of around seven per cent falls drastically short of the total increase in students eligible for disability funding, which has more than doubled from 212,000 to 470,000.

‘How can the Federal Government concentrate a miserly funding increase among wealthy private schools that are suddenly reporting a big unexplained rise in their claimed numbers of children with a disability?’

At the same time, there will be funding cuts for students with a disability in public schools across five states and territories. Across the eight jurisdictions, public schools will receive an increase in disability funding in only three over 2017–18, while independent schools are set for an increase in six.

‘We need an explanation, and that may only come with an independent audit of what appears to be a further gold-plating of the private system at the expense of children in public schools,’ Haythorpe concluded.

Last week, The Conversation reported on the checks and balances needed to ensure the fairness of school disability funding.