Funding stunt highlights Morrison Govt’s double standards over school capital funding

25 July 2019

Scott Morrison’s Local Schools Community Fund has highlighted his government’s double standards when it comes to capital works funding for public as opposed to private schools.

While the Morrison Government offers private schools access to a ten-year $1.9 billion capital works fund, it has failed to provide public schools with a single dollar in equivalent funding for new classrooms, libraries and building maintenance.

Australian Education Union Federal President Correna Haythorpe said the Local Schools Community Fund, a one-off $200,000 grant per electorate for libraries, classrooms and play equipment to be shared amongst all school sectors, was little more than insulting.

“If Scott Morrison’s Local School Community Fund is evenly split between the three school sectors, it means about $1500 for each public school. This is not even enough for a new textbook for each student,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“Compared to the billions of dollars Mr Morrison has handed out in grants to private schools, it’s insulting.”

Ms Haythorpe said that the Morrison Government has already handed over $300 million in capital grants to Independent and Catholics schools in the last two years while at the same time providing no capital funding at all for public schools.

“Not only has Scott Morrison cut $14 billion from public schools he was also the Treasurer who stopped capital funding for public schools altogether,” Ms Haythorpe said.

The lack of Commonwealth capital funding for public schools is despite the fact ABS data shows almost 200,000 additional students have enrolled in Australian schools in the past five years and 76% of the growth has been in public schools.

Between 2015 and 2018 the number of students in public schools increased by 113,039 compared to an increase in Catholic school enrolments of 196 and an increase of 29,626 in Independent Schools. Catholic school enrolments decreased in 2017 and 2018.

Ms Haythorpe said that while public schools might get a one-off payment worth a few thousand dollars from the Local Schools Community Fund, over three hundred private schools have already been allocated substantial capital grants worth an average $1 million each over the last two years.

“The Morrison Government’s Local Schools Community Fund just doesn’t measure up,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“Guidelines say that schools are eligible for grants of up to $20,000 but there is no indication of how this will be split between school sectors.”

“If the fund is allocated according to school enrolments, each school could receive a one off $3158, which is only $7.77 per student. If the fund is split evenly between public, private and Catholic schools, each sector would get $10 million from the fund, meaning a potential one off payment of $1490 for each of the 6711 public schools in the country,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“By comparison, the Morrison Government’s existing $1.9 billion private schools capital works fund provides each of Australia’s 2832 non-government schools with a possible $670,000 over a decade.”

“In 2018 and 2019 alone, 315 non-government schools received total allocations from this fund of $312.6 million – an average of nearly one million dollars per grant,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“Why shouldn’t public schools receive the same treatment from the Morrison Government?”

“Public schools are experiencing significant enrolment growth and it is the public sector which has the greatest need for classrooms, libraries, science labs or sporting facilities,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“If the Morrison Government wants to give all school students a fair go, it must immediately set up a $300 million per year capital works fund for public schools.”