WA Government’s public school cuts revealed

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13 September 2016

The WA Government has slashed funding to public schools by 10.6% from 2009 to 2014 and failed to pass on Gonski funding, a new analysis has found.

The analysis of My School data, by funding expert Bernie Shepherd shows that while schools have seen their Budgets cut and their student/staff ratios increase, private schools are getting more than ever from the WA Government.

AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe said the WA Government’s failure to pass on Gonski funding was failing WA students and denying them the opportunities extra resources were giving to children in the rest of Australia.

“Students in WA public schools are getting bigger classes and less access to the help they need,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“At the same time students in the rest of Australia are benefiting from the extra one-to-one support, smaller classes and targeted literacy and numeracy programs that Gonski funding is delivering.

“Why does the WA Government think its public school students don’t deserve the same opportunities?

WA’s public schools should have been big winners under Gonski, with high numbers of students in remote areas and high numbers of Indigenous students.

A letter from then Education Minister Christopher Pyne to the WA Government in 2013 stated that Gonski funding would deliver an extra $120 million in federal funding to WA schools.

Yet the money has not flowed through and as a result WA students have missed out.

WA faces another blow after 2017 with Malcolm Turnbull’s plan to scrap Gonski funding costing WA schools a total of $330 million in 2018 and 2019 alone.

While we don’t have the MySchool figures for 2015, the WA Government has not made any major increases in funding to schools, simply shifting money within the system so some public schools get a little more and some a little less.

The analysis showed that:

  • WA Government per student funding to public schools dropped by 10.6% ($1388 per student) between 2009 and 2014 while funding to Catholic schools was up by 8.3% and to Independent schools by 12.0% (all figures in 2014 dollars)
  • Enrolments in public schools increased by 21.9% from 2009 to 2015 but full time equivalent staff only increased by 13.9%.
  • This means that Student/ Staff ratio has risen from 14.5 to 15.5 in that period – the equivalent of losing 1.4 full-time teachers in a school of around 300 students.
  • Combined Government funding to schools (State and Federal) has dropped by 9.2% to public schools (loss of $1370 per student) and increased by 12% ($1157 per student) to Catholic schools and 13.4% ($1051 per student) to Independent schools.

“Both the WA and Federal Governments have let down WA students, especially those at disadvantaged schools,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“While Gonski funding should be delivering funding increases to all schools, the biggest increases go to schools which educate high numbers of disadvantaged students.

“In WA, 27.9% of students at public schools are in the lowest SES quartile, compared with 14.7% at Catholic schools and 9.1% at independent schools.

“Public schools do the hard work of educating students with the greatest need for support and they need to be funded accordingly so those students can get the help they need.

“The WA Government needs to commit to fully implementing Gonski funding in 2017 and ensuring Federal Government money is passed on to schools.

“We need the Federal Government to honour the full six years of the Gonski agreements, not deliver their planned cuts to schools after 2017.”