Australian Government review of school funding

Schools across Australia are set for change as a result of the current Review of Funding for Schooling, the first comprehensive review that the nation has undergone since 1973.

The final Terms of Reference were released this month by the panel of eminent Australians carrying out the review, which will examine the funding needs of Australian schools in all states and territories, from Kindergarten to Year 12, across all sectors.

The panel will report its findings to the government by the end of 2011, before the beginning of the next funding period in 2013.

 “The inquiry will ensure that what we are getting quality outcomes for all students, given the changing nature of demographics and demand of areas” according to Education Minister, Simon Crean.

The government insists that the review is about finding a fair funding system for all schools, setting aside the long-standing tensions over school funding that currently exist between government and non-government schools.

In March 2011, the Schools Assistance Amendment (Financial Assistance) Bill 2011 was passed through the senate, which extends the existing Government funding arrangements to Catholic and independent schools until the end of 2013 and capital expenditure until 2014. This Bill ensures the continued funding of Catholic and independent schools whilst the Review of Funding for Schooling takes place.

The government has also insisted that the review will be a transparent and consultative process, allowing all Australians with an interest in the subject to have their say in the building of a new education funding platform.

“This is about having an open conversation with the Australian public and the education sector about how best to fund schools,” Mr Crean said.

The panel heard from 70 key education groups (including parents, teachers, principals and businesses) from around the country in 2010 and has since released an Emerging Issues Paper detailing the key issues raised. Public submissions regarding the Emerging Issues Paper were invited up until March 2011.

You can click here to register for updates on the progress of the review or email your general submissions and feedback to the review inbox at schoolsfundingreview@deewr.gov.au.

THE CURRENT SCHOOL FUNDING SYSTEM:

  • Presently, government schools are primarily funded by state and territory governments and the Australian Government provides supplementary funding.
  • The Australian Government is the primary source of public funding to non-government (Catholic and independent) schools, although state and territory governments also provide some funding.
  • Australian Government funding for government schools is delivered under a National Education Agreement (NEA) with the states and territories. The NEA provides an estimated $17.5 billion in supplementary Commonwealth funding to the states and territories for government schools over 2009–10 to 2012–13. The NEA funding framework provides flexibility for states and territories to allocate Commonwealth funding to areas which they believe will produce the best outcomes for students.
  • Under the Schools Assistance Act 2008, recurrent funding for non-government schools is based on the socio-economic status of the school community. Under this model, funding ranges from 70 per cent of Average Government School Recurrent Costs (the cost of educating a child in a government school) for non-government schools serving the poorest communities to 13.7 per cent of Average Government School Recurrent Costs for schools serving the wealthiest communities.

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