Magpie Primary School

Location: Ballarat, Victoria

Magpie Primary is a small rural school on the outskirts of Ballarat. Most of the school’s 88 students are from low-income backgrounds, and there is a small number of Indigenous students.

How Magpie Primary School has used additional needs-based funding

Magpie Primary School received approximately $112,000 in additional funding in 2016, with a further a $250,000 in 2017. Prior to this, Magpie had received needs-based funding from the former National Partnership for schools with high numbers of students from low-income backgrounds. Magpie used this funding for an ambitious four-year plan to improve the quality of teaching in the school and raise student literacy and numeracy levels. In 2016, additional funding was used to continue this work, with increased staffing, high quality professional development and learning for teachers and support staff, and initiatives which increased community involvement with the school.

Additional funding is being used to reduce booklist fees and subsidise school excursions, as well as fund an extra-curricular sports program aimed at keeping disengaged students, and their parents, with the school. Mr Clifton says that Magpie has had students who have never been to the beach or on a train except with the school, and more than half had never been on a tram. Now, he says, it only costs $3 per student for each excursion. No-one is getting left behind because their families are unable to afford it, and students are gaining a greater sense of the options available to them.

How additional needs-based funding has made a difference for students

Mr Clifton says that needs-based funding is having an “amazing” impact on students, and that most of Magpie Primary School’s results are now well above state average. Student enrolments have almost doubled in the clast couple of years. Mr Clifton says he can see the flow-on effects of investing in staff professional development whenever he enters classrooms and sees students working, for example, with new technologies. This has only been made possible by developing the skill-sets of his teachers and support staff, which the extra funding has allowed.

What the continuation of additional needs-based funding would mean to Magpie Primary School

Depriving schools of needs-based funding over the long term will mean that hard-won gains are under threat, and plans for school improvement are in doubt. For low-SES school communities like Magpie, Mr Clifton says the additional funding is “a ‘hand-up’ not a ‘hand-out’. It’s helping to change the learning outcomes for a generation of kids who deserve a chance”.