Report highlights school funding inequity

Monday, 04 March, 2024

Report highlights school funding inequity

The stark funding gap between private and public schools has been revealed by a new report, according to the NSW Teachers Federation.

Figures from the report show that one Sydney private school spent more on a new pool and expanded fitness and drama facilities in 2021 ($63.5 million) than governments spent on 2549 public schools which educate over 472,000 students.

Other findings for NSW schools include:

  • A 30% growth in demountables between 2011 and 2022, rising to over 5000.
  • No ongoing capital funding from the Commonwealth despite calls from the NSW Government (NSW submission to NSRA review).
  • The Commonwealth capital grants program for disadvantaged schools delivered funding to two of NSW’s richest schools.
  • Average annual per student capital investment 2012–2021 was $1052 for public and $2331 for private.

NSW Teachers Federation Senior Vice President Natasha Watt said public school students were being short-changed by inequitable funding.

“Private schools are flushed with the public’s money, purchasing skyscrapers and constructing extravagant castles, while public school students are cramming into demountable classrooms. This inequity is stark and it must be addressed,” Watt said.

“The Prime Minister must uphold his commitment to fully support and fund public schools. We fully endorse the NSW Government’s demand for a funding agreement that covers both ongoing operations and infrastructure costs. Despite private schools being slated to receive nearly a billion dollars in capital funds from the Commonwealth over four years, public schools stand to receive no capital funding after this year without an extension of the current school upgrade initiative by the government.

“The prime minister has a critical role in levelling the playing field through significant investments in public education.”

According to the Teachers Federation, NSW public schools are slated to receive only 89% of the Schooling Resource Standard, the minimum level of funding needed to properly attend to the learning needs of all students. That equates to a $1.9 billion shortfall.

“This gap must be plugged. It would mean more permanent teachers, allowing smaller class sizes and more one-on-one time for students with complex needs,” Watt said.

“Giving all children the start they deserve will allow them to make the most of their potential and contribute to their community and the nation.”

She said that the recent salary agreement struck between the NSW Government and the Teachers Federation is a critical step to ending the teacher shortage in NSW, but the Commonwealth must now also step up.

“We wholeheartedly support the NSW position that the Commonwealth must do more when it comes to meeting the level of funding needed to properly attend to the learning needs of all students,” Watt said.

Image credit: Zastrozhnov

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