Fairer Funding?

The last few days have provided stories about funding for schools. Firstly we have via the ABC:

The Australian Education Union says private schools are continuing to receive government funding while posting multi-million dollar profits.

The Geelong Grammar School made a $10.7 million profit last year while receiving $4 million of federal funding.

The union also singled out Melbourne’s Scotch College which it says has $70 million in the bank.

Federal president Angelo Gavrielatos says the private school funding system needs to be overhauled, describing it as “totally unacceptable”.

And then in the Sydney Morning Herald:

NSW teachers say they are spending thousands of dollars a year to buy basic classroom items, filling the gap between the Education Department and some parents who fail to equip their children with a pen and an exercise book.

Says Trish McCombie of Cromer Public: “..items such as lead pencils are vital in any classroom. ‘I’ve asked my school office for a box of extra lead pencils for the child who’s run out or whose mum or dad can’t afford it or, sad to say, can’t be bothered. The answer is ‘No, the parents have to provide their own.”

My own experiences as a teacher in the public system have included, having to provide Kleenex tissues, spare knickers, pay for additional reams of paper when the allocated supply ran out, having to pay for art supplies and travelling around cap in hand to local businesses for equipment for the Art Room. Providing textas is the worst because these have a habit of regularly going ‘walkies’.

You also end up with behavioural issues such as teasing and bullying the have-nots by other children – less than sympathetic teachers who demand to know why the child’s parent hasn’t provided XY or Z thereby humiliating the child in front of the class, because of course everyone knows why the child does not have their own and for the reasons stated by teacher Trish McCombie – and of course stealing.

And so where to? On Peter Garrett’s Labor Blog website he describes the current funding situation as “a dog’s breakfast” with this opinion repeated last week again via the SMH :

The School Education Minister, Peter Garrett, has strongly criticised Howard era deals which deliver millions of dollars more to some private schools than they would be entitled to if the federal funding formula was strictly applied.

Under the arrangements introduced by the Howard government in 2001 and continued by the Rudd and Gillard governments, the Commonwealth allocates funding to private schools according to a formula that measures the socio-economic status of a school community.

But because the Coalition promised no school would be worse off under its system, 1075 schools have had their entitlements preserved fully indexed at the levels they received under the previous system. More than half of the nation’s Catholic schools and 17 per cent of independent schools are funded in this way.

The difference in cost between funding schools in this way and funding schools according to the formula is projected to exceed $700 million a year.

In a speech to Lutheran principals this week, Mr Garrett said those arrangements had ”no sound policy basis,” and led to some ”quite extraordinary inequities.”

Minister Garrett has also advised that he federal government has ordered a review of the funding with the report to be provided by the panel before the end of this year. Opposition spokesman, Christopher Pyne, has promised to preserve the current arrangements.

40 comments on “Fairer Funding?

  1. About bloody time. The socio-economic index was always a farce.

    $70m in the kitty and being subsidised to the detriment of public education! They can start putting their hands in their own pockets for the archery range! Toorak mummies will have to have a cake stall fundraiser and daddies will have to have a fundraising barbie.

    We knew when the Rodent devised this iniquitous scheme what he was up to. Let’s hope Minister Garrett can rip it apart and fund schools according to their pupil needs, not according to the Smuggles Set snob meter.

    Little Chrissy Whynne’s “promise” show where his priorities lie! Hopefully, people might start waking up to where opposition priorities lie vis-a-vis education.

  2. From: http://www.dest.gov.au/archive/schools/ses/index.htm#How can we be sure that the SES model is better?

    for example, income from fetes and working bees could raise a school’s ERI score and result in reduced government funding;

    But of course this was always a set-up for the wealthiest schools to increase their funding – consider the difference in $s to be gained from a wealthy school raffling A New Car or a Holiday to Noosa compared with another school raffling a home knitted scarf and a box of chocolates.

  3. Jane
    Unfortunately the school funding debate appealed to the “aspirational” private school parent.
    I remember a story on 7.30 report during the howard years when a “battler” had moved into rented home because of the choice they had to make with interest rates rising. The choice was the house or the private school. Yes because little Jenny was so special that they made the choice for schools fees first, and good luck to them.
    The next phase of the aspirational private school parent was when the global financial crisis occurred and the grand parents could no longer afford to pay the grand kids schooling.The following school year enrolments increased in state schools.
    The better argument should not be about private/non private schools but about quality education funding so that all kids have the opportunity rather than the aspirations attached to a school name.

  4. Disclaimer: I worked in some of the poorest school in the State and my last school face to face teaching was one of the wealthiest..I’ll tell you what those kids in the poorest schools may not have had the tools and equipment, many were latch-key kids but a nicer crew you could not come across. These kids are the battlers, they DESERVE the best – the best tools and equipment, the best teachers, free meals from the canteen if they’re hungry.

  5. Jane,

    And you know what…this if from my criminal law lecturer David Heilpern. He said, see this bunch (1st Yr criminal law) by the end of the year over half of them will have quit. And you know what of that half who quit over 80% will have come from the private school system. The private school system can teach kids how to pass exams, but because they have been spoon-fed they have little capacity for independent study. His opinion, not mine.

  6. World wide studies have shown that publically educated secondary students do better in tertiary education where the students need to be more independent to achieve the required educational outcomes.

    This is why some governments attempt to get rid of free or subsidised to the less well off education, so as to give the wealthy private school students guaranteed places in tertiary education through paying for them.

    Can’t have these upstart wrong side of the track kids showing off the silver spoon fed children of the wealthy now can we, and we all know that side of the track are all lefties. Heaven knows the kids of the rich might have to get a highly qualified jobs on merit, just how will the manage that without mummy’s and daddy’s money to prop them up.

  7. Mobius, mummy and daddy’s money will always prop them up but think of our wasted resource..our bright kids who do not have the basic tools and equipment to enable them to pursue a tertiary education. Hence Rudd’s laptops for schools of course.

    Plus hands up how many here who had to leave school after Yr 10 because their parents couldn’t afford to keep them in school, but had to go and get a job to help support the family.

    This could be an interesting one because how many Alan Jones’ listeners will agree with their hard earned going toward propping up these fat cat luxury educational factilities.

  8. I had many problems with Mr. Howard’s funding of private schooling.

    I believe his aim was to cater to the what I believe misplaced desires of the religious extreme.

    I question the agenda’s of parents who wanted to isolate their children from influences of our society.

    I believe that children have a right to be educated with their peers. That children have a right to be exposed to many different aspects of society.

    What Mr. Howard’s policy also allowed, was the establishment of many Christian school, some extreme in their beliefs. It also allowed similar Islam schools to also be established.

    These might be very good schools, I do not know. I do not care.

    I cannot see what is to be gained by keeping children apart from their peers and every day society.

    I attended many different schools as a child. That is public and Catholic. Big and small. There was little difference in the education I received in any of them. What I did learn, is that people live their lives in many different ways. I learnt that this made our society strong and exciting.

    We need to build a strong community that is made up of many cultures, beliefs and religions. This cannot be achieved by isolating children during their school years.

    If a parents moral and religious beliefs are strong enough, their children will follow their example.

    If they need to keep their children in isolation, to pass on their beliefs and morals, I question the value of those beliefs and morals.

  9. Sue that was the Rodent’s gambit. Wreck the public school system and you’ve got a large pool of undereducated wage slaves who can be further exploited with SerfChoices.

    By appealing to the snob in his “aspirationals” he could savagely cut funding to public schools and hardly anyone would care.

    I have nothing against private schools, two of my kids went to them. However, if you make that choice, it’s on the understanding that you don’t elbow public schools aside to get your snout in the government funding trough.

    Min @12.41pm, I couldn’t agree more. All our children deserve the best possible education we can provide.That is nurturing and maintaining our intellectual capital and infrastructure. And it’s another reason I disagree with HECS.

    A good education should be a right; poorly educated people don’t thrive in almost all ways-health, income, job prospects etc. As a wealthy country we have a responsibility to invest in our future adult population ie the country’s economic and social future.

    The Rodent couldn’t see further than the end of his nose and i’m sure he didn’t give a toss about the future welfare of Australia.

    Smuggles is no better-worse in fact; all he cares about is grabbing political power. He hasn’t given a thought beyond that point. Which is another reason I think he will be a complete disaster for this country.

  10. PS. I have a grandson attending an expensive private school, mainly I believe because it was the education his father had. The children attended a very, no excellent primary school, after giving up on the local Catholic school.

    I do not believe the school my grandson attends is the best for him. I hate to say it, he is getting a big head. The primary school he attended kept his feet on the ground.

    What I would have rather seen was a good high school, plenty of after school activities. I would have like to see the money spent on special holidays each year. It is wonderful what a child can learn with two or three weeks and a cruise in Greece.

    I must add, I do respect the parents choice. What I am trying to say, there are better ways for a parent to get a top education for their children.

    I question the value of money spent on private schooling.

    PS I would like to add, the older daughter went off the rails and the expensive private school had no more luck than the local high school she finished her education.

  11. Garrett sent his daughters to elite private schools mnay labor mps do. We send our two teenagers to a govt school could afford to send them anywhere but choose to support a govt school where they get an excellent education and mix with the right group. I get into trouble asking my friends why they send their kids to private schools.

  12. I think that quite often ‘schools are schools’, kids sit in the classroom chewing the tops of their pencils, getting into strife for throwing their vegemite sandwiches into the bin, for not doing their homework..

    It is the parents who state in high tones, Ohhh I wouldn’t send my child theeere, my little Oswald goes to the private school.

    And so little Oswald grows up into a snobbish pain in the b*tt just the same as his parents.

    On the other hand I have known some genuinely wealthy people of the ‘old money’ variety who do not have a snobbish bone in their bodies, in fact one son who is now a very well known lawyer works most pro bono on human rights issues. It all comes down to the attitude of the parents IMO.

  13. I was often asked by parents whose children were struggling either because of learning difficulties or behavioural problems (this was both as a teacher and later as a disability advocate) whether they should take their child out of the local public school and place them in a private school.

    My answer was that if you have the money to spend, then do not spend it on what is already covered by the Education Department Curriculum…spend it on things which enhance your child’s development as a person, provide them with additional experiences that NO school environment can provide. That is, if you can afford private school fees then you can also afford to take a day off work to take your child camping.

  14. Best solution is retain catholic schools as catholic and fund fully to state school level but they have to be open to all comers, no discrimination against staff or students. Any catholic or private school that elects to charge fees gets no govt funding. Same systen as NZ, UK, Canada, Holland, etc. Most Catholic school parents disagree with this as they use schools to segregate their kiddies from those of their more feral neighbors especially in the outer burbs and regional centres. Ask Catholic parents and if they are honest they will tell you this is true.

  15. Latte Sipper, I’m very much a believer in user-pays. The government pays for a state education and if parents want anything different, then it’s up to them to pay for it.

  16. Many many years ago the school I attended was near the immigration centre. So my classes had kids of various ethnic backgrounds and religions, but to me they were just kids. The worst part was that after kindergarten we were segregated by sex. So because of that I made certain that my kids went to coeducational schools.
    The area I grew up in now has schools of different ethnicities and religion, Greek, Jewish, Catholic, Christian and public. What a shame that parents chose not to have their kids mix.

  17. CU @ 1.49pm, I know a cruise round the Greek Islands would do me a power of good! lol

    Latte sipper @3.00pm, Couldn’t agree more.

    Another thing; instead of pouring funds into private school archery ranges, that money would be far better spent on training more teachers, smaller classes and better support for teaching staff.

  18. Min , State system does not have the schools to accomodate all Catholic students but incorporating into the state system makes them take all students and run along the same line as govt schools. This occured in most of the OECD decades ago. Here the Catholic church fight against it as the schools are a large part of their power base and as I said most Catholic parents would fight against it because it would not provide the segregation they are looking for. The idea that religion is the reason they send their kids to Catholic schools is a furphy-fear of bogans is not very Christian but is the main driver. I am hoping the Gonski review comes up with something like this but George Pell will be working away furiously in the background.

  19. Latte sipper..especially now that a majority of teachers now teaching in Catholic schools are non-Catholics. A far cry from Our Lady’s of Perpetual Suckers at Apollo Bay. 😀

  20. Jane, CU, Pip, Sue et al (we might even allow some of the blokes to accompany us) re: I know a cruise round the Greek Islands would do me a power of good! lol

    Good, we wimmens are going for this one.

    Here is us..or is that, here are we 🙂

  21. Lol, Min. I’m sure that could be a photo of moi.Either way I’d be more than happy to pose in that pose. ROFL.

    (we might even allow some of the blokes to accompany us)

    Yes, Min. You can never have too many hot and cold running butlers!

  22. Min you need to look at my post on open thread and then go to The political sword. The Australian, Milne disgusting. My local MP has got an email.

  23. Min, I loved the Greek Islands. It is one place I would love to return to.

    I came across a woman from Western Sydney on the cruise I took.

    She returned every two years with a different grandchild when they were about 13 years.

    She rented a house in Athens. She made sure that the child done all the banking, understood exchange rates etc.

    She said it was the best present she could give each child, That the trip had matured each one of them. She also loved Greece.

    I wish I had the money to do the same. I have many grand kids, with great grand kiids coming up behind them. Wouldn’t I have a wonderful time.

    The Catholic system managed before Federal funding since the early 1800’s. I am sure they would survive again. Any change would not have to be overnight.

    Tha Catholic system really complements the public system. It is the other private schools that are of more concern.

    As archery ranges, we need to let the O’Farrell government know that rifle ranges are not neccessary in state schools, or any other for that matter.

  24. The socio-economic index was always a farce.

    Beg to disagree. The idea of providing additional government funds to 'disadvantaged' schools came from Peter Karmel's Report Schools in Australia following the election of the Whitlam Government way back in 1972. Building on the findings of the 1966 Coleman Report karmel and others acknowledged that socio-economic status of the family to which the child belonged was the most powerful influence on future educational attainment.

    It was then and still is now!

    While the concept’s been refined over the years the fundamental imputs remain the the same. It’s not a concept that should be abandoned nor will it be, I believe.

    Having said that, let me explain how Howard used a perfectly valid concept to cover up some monumenatl rorts. When Karmel employed the SES concept it was all about the child in a particular family location. Schools determined their level of disadvantage based on each family’s SES location. Howard changed that, using the spurious argument that such a methodology was an invasion of privacy. LOL.

    Instead of using a family’s SES situation Howard introduced the notion of the average SES of those who lived in a Census District (CD). (A CD has about 200 households). Using this methodology, the ‘very rich’ (high SES) appear to be less rich while the poor (low SES) appear to be less poor.

    While it’s abit more complicated than that, it’s about it in a nutshell. Time to go back to the original concept and the use the SES as it applies to families and not CDs.

  25. N’5, re “socio-economic status of the family to which the child belonged was the most powerful influence on future educational attainment”.

    But not per se. The contra evidence is the exceptionally high achievers from lower socio-economic backgrounds and in particular migrants and the children of refugees.

  26. And N’5 a CD is clearly nonsensical these days..consider the ‘poor areas’ such as Western suburbs which are now home to the $150g+ upper crust.

  27. Min, when I speak of SES being the ‘powerful influence’ I am not suggesting that it is the only influence. It’s a ‘generalisation’ and all that implies.

    Of necessity, government policy must be guided by ‘generalisations’ because individual, tailor made responses would be impossible to administer given the size of the school population.

    As for CDs they are still used as this link explains.


  28. I would like to defend some politicians who send their children to private schools. Private schools unlike public are better able to protect their kids from our wonderful media.

  29. Private schools unlike public are better able to protect their kids from our wonderful media.

    How? Any evidence?

  30. Nature 5

    Why would want evidence for something that makes sense. I do know of one politician that did this years ago.

    If you were in the same position, would you not be looking for the best protection for your children.

    I was just pointing out that politicians might have other reasons for using private schools.

    I could be wrong.

  31. You see schools are like this: the kids sit in the seats, the teachers walk into the room and say to the class, Open your books onto page 54. And BTW don’t forget you’ve only got until Friday to have that assignment in. Harry, you know that chewing gum isn’t allowed in class..up here..into the bin. Sarah, are you reading your text book or what is it that you’re reading..would you like to either put it away or show the rest the class what you’re reading.

    And I defy anyone to be able to tell the difference between Public Schools and Private Schools.

  32. Why would (you?) want evidence for something that makes sense

    Because to me it doesn’t. I can’t see how private schools can better ‘protect’ children from unwanted publicity than state schools.

    There is litlle doubt that politicians send their kids to private schools and they do so because they see such schools to be ‘better’. Premiers Beattie and Goss sent their kids to very ‘elite’ schools. Bligh didn’t. But then again she sent then to Brisbane State high which is the only public school in the GPS.

  33. N5, it was Howard’s unscrupulous rorting of a perfectly reasonable method of determining funding that I was commenting on. I should have made that clear.

  34. Please, I am not against Islam schools, anymore than I am Christian.

    I do not believe that the state should not encourage children being bought up in isolation.

    I believe it is more about control, that of parents and the religious bodies, than it is about the wellbeing or rights of children.

    It is also about politics.

    “Fundamentally, it has to be said, and with only a tinge of sadness, Miranda the Divine is stupid. Deeply, offensively stupid.

    On any given day of the week, you might find her railing at Islamic extremism, the dangers of sophisticated, articulate Islamic fundamentalists, and so on and forth (it’s all there back in 2006 in Wolves in sheep’s clothing on an extremist Islamic mission).

    Yet effectively in today’s piece in the Sunday Terror, Miranda Divine on Julia Gillard plotting class warfare, she spends time arguing for the ongoing federal funding of Muslim schools.

    It’s true she doesn’t actually mention Muslim schools, but that’s because fundamentally she’s stupid. Did I mention deeply, offensively so?

    It would have only taken a moment of her time to catch up on Malek Fahd Islamic School ‘fees’ funding Australian Federation of Islamic Councils:


  35. It is all about class war. Why do those from the right deny that class does not exist, at the same time, accusing them of class war.

    …”Of all the toxic issues Julia Gillard has to contend with, education has been seen as her strong suit.

    The Prime Minister has spoken in warm tones about education as “the foundation stone of opportunity”, being “central to my economic agenda”.

    Her commitment to transparency via the My School website resonated with people while infuriating the powerful left-wing teachers’ unions.

    But an own goal looms even in this friendly territory, one completely of Gillard making: a re-run of the divisive attempt to pit government schools against “wealthy” independent and Catholic schools.

    The Gonski review into school funding is seen by opponents of parent choice, such as Australian Education Union president Angelo Gavrielatos, as a golden opportunity to marginalise non-government schools by stealth….”

    “…For them, it is a return to the bitter class envy and sectarian divide of half a century ago.

    And of course, the overt agenda of the Gillard government’s coalition partner, the Greens, is to cut funding to non-government schools.

    The panel examining school funding was appointed by Gillard when she was education minister…”

    The PM and Labor could not just be interested in a fairer system. No, they must have hidden agendas. Why?


    “…….The Liberal Prime Minister, Robert Menzies, responded by promising limited government funding of private schools and won a snap election on the issue, with the Labor Party soon following suit.

    By contrast, in WA, the Barnett Coalition government has decided 30 government schools will become “Independent Public Schools” – with autonomy over budget, staffing, curriculum and enrolments.

    The public has until September 30 to make final submissions to the Gonski review…..”


    I suggest that those on the right, are more interested in weakening the Public system, than they are in providing a system that is best for children and the economy of this country.

    Privatisation is the name of the game.

    No credit is tolerated for this PM. She must be demonised in all areas.


  36. “…..Bob Posted at 12:16 PM Today
    Don’t you think you should have mentioned that along with being a ‘Victorian education consultant’ Kevin Donnely is also a former staffer for Kevin Andrews of the Liberal Party? You appear happy to provide background on former Labor or union staffers/members. Oh sorry silly me you’re an opinion writer not a journo so you don’t have to pretend to give a fair and accurate account do you Miranda? As for funding of religious based schools riddle me this oh mouthpiece for the Catholic Right – how many cases of sexual assault of a minor have occurred in government schools and how many in Catholic ones? Government funded child abuse eh? What would Jesus say I ask you? …..”


  37. “………………….David Gonski is a busy man. He’s a much sought-after board member of corporate boards, he was executor of Kerry Packer’s estate, he’s Chancellor of UNSW. It is telling that such a man has taken time out to chair the committee conducting this review. The report is too in-depth to be some rich-man’s folly and it puts to shame all those edifices and “causes” that are (I mean, fancy scrapping over becoming a director of an AFL club. Honestly).

    It is fair to expect that the Australian media, with an eye to both real and big issues and to selling product that appeals to the market, would have been all over the Gonski Report. There is something in it for everyone. Journalists should have the skill and media organisations should have the range to cover the full range of public policy on this issue, from decisions at Federal Cabinet to delivery in classrooms, public and private, across the nation.

    Once again, the media have obsessed over a few snippets which don’t really matter, and ignored big and complex issues that matter a lot. The people who are running the mainstream media into the ground think it’s clever to do that, they think it’s clever to avoid the hard work of writing simply about complex issues. Their whole ‘profession’ is going down the toilet because they can’t snap out of this, and they can’t understand why people don’t trust them:…………….”


  38. CU, thank you for that..a very worthy read indeed. I also like the concluding statement:

    If journalism is going to stuff up big and important issues like education funding, and beggar their own profession, you can’t trust them to get anything right.

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