New analysis exposes Barnett Government funding cuts to public schools and failure to pass on Gonski funding

12 September 2016

A new analysis of schools funding, based on My School data, shows the Barnett Government has made huge cuts to schools funding across WA and has failed to pass on needs-based Gonski funding from the Federal Government to public schools.

The analysis, by funding expert Bernie Shepherd, found WA’s public schools have seen their real per student funding drop by 10.6% between 2009 and 2014 and student/staff ratios have risen from 14.5 to 15.5. Private schools have seen their State Government funding increase during the same period.

AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe said failing 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.

“The WA Government has abandoned its public schools and delivered cuts which have hit disadvantaged students the hardest,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“Students in WA are getting bigger classes and less access to the help they need.

“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?

“The Federal Government needs to explain why it has allowed the WA Government to avoid passing on its Gonski funding. Former Education Minister Christopher Pyne wrote to the WA Government in 2013 confirming that an extra $120.3 million in Gonski funding would be delivered over the 2014-2017 period.

“Education Minister Simon Birmingham said last November that he would make States accountable for how they spend federal schools funding and ensure it was not used to ‘prop up a state or territory bottom line’

“He has done nothing to make this happen, and needs to explain how his proposed new funding system will make sure States are held accountable for funding schools.”

“WA schools could be hit again after 2017, when the Turnbull Government’s plan to end Gonski means they would lose $330 million in increased funding in 2018 and 2019 alone.

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%
  • 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.”

For Media Inquiries or a copy of the research, contact Ben Ruse – 0437 971 291