Federal funding shortfall exposed at Principals’ Conference

More than 250 public school principals gathered at Federation’s auditorium in Sydney on Friday, 24 March, to discuss education policy and hear about the shocking $1.35 billion funding shortfall for NSW public schools in 2022.

On the eve of a federal election, a new report by senior economist Adam Rorris revealed the massive funding shortfall for public schools, while private schools were being overfunded to the tune of $287 million.

The NSW — Public Funding Schools and the School Resourcing Standard report also found that elite private schools in NSW continue to be showered with millions of dollars of Government money. A total of 36 private schools received between $1 million and nearly $7 million in extra funding.

Federation President Angelo Gavrielatos said the Morrison Government has led the way when it comes to the cash splash for wealthy private schools while public schools remain severely underfunded and with no pathway forward to meet the minimum needs of their students.

“If this was a report card on school funding, then the Morrison Government would get an ‘F’ for fail,” Mr Gavrielatos said.

The federal Shadow Minister for Education Tanya Plibersek and Greens’ spokesperson on Education Senator Mehreen Faruqi addressed the conference on their respective party’s policies.

Ms Plibersek addressed the funding public schools, committing to getting every public school to 100 per cent of its Schooling Resource Standard (SRS).

Noting the current funding agreements expire in 2023, Ms Plibersek said: “This is something that we need to do together with states and territories. Our commitment is there to get every school to 100 per cent of its Schooling Resource Standard. Our leader Anthony Albanese has said that publicly, you can take it to the bank.”

Ms Plibersek also said a Labor government would deliver $440 million to schools across 2022 and 2023 for better ventilation, building upgrades, and mental health support as part of the ALP’s plan to help school kids bounce back from COVID-19.

Dr Faruqi spoke of the disparity in funding caused by federal “slush funds” for private schools noting the inequity directly correlates to education outcomes.

“That’s why the Greens have made by far the largest and most profound commitment of any party,” she said. “I am proud to say the Greens are the only party committed to public schools receiving 100 per cent of their SRS by 2023. And under our fully costed plan … the Commonwealth contribution to SRS will increase to 25 per cent.

“Public schools are suffering under ailing infrastructure, and demountables are becoming more the norm rather than the exception and that’s why the Greens want to see an investment of $400 million a year in schools to build a safe and modern learning environments and also to be able to access what we want to set up, which is a $5 million green education infrastructure fund.”