School funding stoush

The Federal Government has released their School Funding Calculator, and all Tumut schools will receive a funding boost over the next decade according to these figures.

The calculator shows how much more money schools will receive compared with their current funding levels, with significant increases across the board.

However, the NSW Teachers Federation has said that the majority of NSW schools are receiving less money than was negotiated with the previous Labor government. The Coalition funding promise is $22 billion less than the Labor policy, but it does include a funding redistribution element that sees overfunded schools receive less money and underfunded schools receive more money.

It also uses the same formula for every student across the board, rather than the patchwork of individually negotiated agreements with states and sector groups that proceeded it.

However, Acting NSW Teachers Federation President Gary Zadkovich said that isn’t good enough.

“This school by school data shows the reality behind the deceit of the Turnbull plan,” he said.

“Teachers, principals and parents can see how much funding and support their students will miss out on if the Turnbull Government abandons the [original] NSW Gonski agreement.

“The Commonwealth signed up to provide $1.1 billion for 2018 and 2019 to help our NSW public school students achieve their educational potential. This funding provides crucial extra support for students with additional learning needs.

“No matter how much Prime Minister Turnbull and Education Minister Birmingham use deceit and political spin, these figures show how much every public school in NSW will lose under their funding plan.”

The calculator releases estimates of how much Commonwealth funding each school will receive under their new education funding plan, with the results for Tumut schools displayed in the table to the left.

However, it should be noted that these figures indicate how much Federal Government funding each school will get in the coming decade, which is only a percentage of their total funding.

Despite the simplification the Gonski funding model provides, school funding in Australia is still complicated.

Public schools receive the majority of their funding from state governments, like the NSW government.

The states provide 80 per cent of their total funding, with the Commonwealth providing 20 per cent of their total funding. So when you see in the table that the Federal government is providing $11,603,400 to Franklin Public School over 10 years, that’s 20 per cent of their total funding, with the additional money provided by the NSW government.

For independent schools – McAuley Catholic Central School, St Joseph’s Primary School, and St Mary’s Primary School in this region – these figures represent 80 per cent of all money they’re going to get from any branch of government, with the state providing 20 per cent more. So, McAuley Catholic Central School, for example, will receive $40,593,000 from the Federal government over ten years, plus another 20 per cent of their total funding provided by NSW.

Generally speaking, both government and independent schools also supplement their government funding with school fees charged to parents. Traditionally independent schools charge higher fees, and enrolment at those schools depends on being able to afford the fees. Public schools have to provide all children with an education regardless of whether or not their parents can afford school fees, although they do still charge them.

Tumut, Adelong, and Batlow Catholic primary schools fall into the Canberra-Goulburn Archdiocese, whose Catholic Education Office has been publicly worrying about the effect of funding changes on Canberra Catholic schools. However, as you can see in the table, Catholic schools in Tumut are still receiving the greatest Federal funding increase out of all of the local schools.

Differences in the level of funding increases between the public schools can be accounted for by the loading system. In the new Gonski funding model, schools are allocated funding on a per student basis. They are allocated more money for factors in their student population like disability, remoteness, and Indigenous students. So, Gadara is receiving a significantly higher increase in funding than other schools, because their students all have disabilities. Talbingo Public School would presumably be receiving a greater funding increase due to loadings for remoteness. St Mary’s and St Joseph’s have the greatest funding increase of all because they are independent schools, which receive more federal funding, and are also remote.

In terms of funding per student, the amount is going to be gradually corrected over the next ten years, which is why the 2027 end point figures are provided.