New figures reveal large funding and resource gaps between public and private schools in Bass

8 May 2019

The urgent need for fairer funding arrangements for public schools has been highlighted by new figures which show large resource gaps between public and private schools in the Bass electorate.

According to an Australian Education Union (AEU) analysis of the latest ACARA ‘My School’ data, over the last three years funding for total school capital projects in Bass has consistently been 2.5 times higher in Catholic schools than in government schools, and more than six times higher in independent schools than government schools.

Meanwhile, total net recurrent income for independent schools in Bass is 27% higher than it is for government schools.Net Recurrent Income is income received by a school that is available for expenditure relating to the ongoing operating costs of schools (e.g. teaching and non-teaching staff salaries, school operating costs).

Australian Education Union (AEU) Federal President Correna Haythorpe said that the My School figures for Bass highlighted the importance of reversing the Morrison Government’s $52 million in public school funding cuts in Tasmania.

“We have a very clear message from parents, teachers and voters about their disappointment over the Morrison Government’s decision to cut $52 million from funding for public schools in Tasmania,” Ms Haythorpe said.

According to the Senate Committee on Education, and Employment, the failure of the Morrison Government to properly fund public schools in Tasmania to the Schooling Resource Standard means that public school students in Tasmania will miss out on $713 million of funding to 2027. They will also lose an additional $463 million from the loose accounting measures and depreciation allowances within the Morrison Government’s bilateral school funding agreements with the state government.

“After six years of funding cuts we know that the Federal Coalition does not support public schools. Mr Morrison’s plan will leave 100% per cent of public schools in Tasmania below the national resource standard,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“This means that every public school in Tasmania will not have enough funding to meet the needs of its students for the next five years and beyond. That’s Scott Morrison’s idea of a fair go,” Ms Haythorpe said.

An AEU analysis of school funding data also revealed:

  • Since the Federal Coalition came to power in 2014, Commonwealth funding of public schools in Tasmania is only just above the pace of inflation.
  • By stark contrast, the Coalition increased funding to Catholic schools at 14% above the rate of inflation during the years 2014-2017 and increased federal government funding to independent schools by more than 21% above inflation in that time.
  • State government funding to Catholic schools has increased by 10% above the rate of inflation, and state government funding to independent schools has increased by over 18% above inflation in those four years.

AEU Tasmania Branch President Helen Richardson said the recently-released My School data shows that Tasmanian public schools were amongst the lowest funded in the country.

“When independent and Catholic schools in Bass are receiving that much more funding than public schools you know how unfair the system has become,” Ms Richardson said.

“The Morrison Government has handed billions of dollars of extra funding to private schools while cutting $14 billion from public school funding.”

“The only way to start levelling the playing field is to restore the federal funding that public schools should have received this year and last year. Thankfully, Labor has made a commitment to do exactly that if it is elected to government in the federal election,” Ms Richardson said.

“Without that investment the resources gaps between public and private schools in Bass are only going to increase,” Ms Richardson said.

“Public schools in Bass educate the vast majority of students from disadvantaged backgrounds and yet they are operating with thousands of dollars less per student than private schools.”

“These figures don’t even take into account the $4.6 billion Mr Morrison handed to private schools last year,” Ms Richardson said.

“Because they get so much recurrent funding, Independent schools able to spend up to five times as much on buildings and facilities as public schools.”

“By contrast, public schools in Bass would receive $12 million in additional funding in the first three years of a Shorten Labor Government,” Ms Richardson said.

“The message from voters is clear. It is time for a change of government, one that is serious about investing in our public schools.”