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.
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.