Public schools denied fair funding despite soaring enrolments

8 March 2019

The Morrison government will cut $14 billion in funding from public schools in Australia over the next decade despite new figures showing that public schools are experiencing the lion’s share of growth in new student enrolments.

According to a new report from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in the past five years public schools across Australia have seen 75.9 per cent of new school student enrolments, while student enrolments to Catholic schools actually dropped over the past twelve months.

Australian Education Union (AEU) Federal President Correna Haythorpe said that this new ABS report demonstrated the urgency behind the need to restore the Morrison government’s cuts to public school funding.

“Public school student enrolments are soaring, and yet the Morrison government has cut public school budgets by $14 billion over the next ten years. It just doesn’t make sense,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“Two out of every three students (65.7%) attend public schools. These figures show that public schools are experiencing huge enrolment growth. It is time for public school funding to reflect this.”

“The Morrison government must restore the cuts to public school funding cuts. The Federal Coalition’s 2017 school funding legislation is directly responsible for leaving public schools under-resourced. Our 2.5 million public school students can’t wait – their schools need this funding now,” Ms Haythorpe said.

According to the ABS report

  • over the past five years, 75.9% of the of student enrolment growth occurred in public schools
  • public school enrolments soared by more than 150,000 students, from 2,406,495 students in 2014, to 2,558,169 students in 2018
  • Catholic school enrolments rose by only 8000 students over this time (757, 749 to 765,735), and actually dropped over the past twelve months
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students made up 5.7% of all students, with 83.9% enrolled in government schools
  • The Northern Territory had the highest proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students enrolments at 39.0%

“The Northern Territory has been hit particularly hard by public school funding cuts under the Morrison government. Under its new bilateral school funding agreement with the Morrison government it will be funded at only 79 per cent of the Schooling Resource Standard by 2023,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“The Morrison Government quite clearly has failed in its moral obligation to fully fund public schools and ensure that all school children in Australia get a fair go and the opportunity to develop their potential,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“Prime Minister Morrison has made it clear that public schools are not a priority for his government.”

“Public schools cater for the vast majority of Australian children. We need a federal government which puts public schools, their staff and public school students first,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“Mr Morrison Government must use the 2 April federal budget to restore the funding it has cut from public school funding over the next decade.”

If Morrison government can’t deliver equity in school funding, then it’s time for a change of federal government – one which puts public schools first. That’s why we have welcomed the commitment by Labor to restore the $14 billion in public school funding cuts,” Ms Haythorpe said.