Rorris illuminates government overfunding of private schools

A new report authored by senior economist Adam Rorris has revealed the NSW Government is overfunding NSW private schools by almost $850 million, while choosing to underfund public schools by $2 billion every single year.

The NSW Government Public Funding of Private Schools in NSW report, which was presented to Federation’s Annual Conference, also found that the Government gave more than $40 million in extra funding to just 28 elite private schools, identified as some of the wealthiest and best resourced schools in the country.

NSW Teachers Federation president Angelo Gavrielatos said the report showed the profound inequity of the NSW Government’s school funding arrangements.

In 2021, two thirds of independent schools were overfunded by almost $100 million. Some of the richest schools in the nation are getting between $1 million and $2.5 million more per year than their government-funding entitlement. Overfunding these schools just means bigger surpluses and bigger swimming pools.

How is it that NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet can afford to give hundreds of millions a year to private schools that don’t need it, but he can’t find the money to properly fund public schools?

Right now, Mr Perrottet’s plan is to keep overfunding private schools to 2029 while indefinitely underfunding public schools, which educate two thirds of students in this state.

This funding inequity is making it harder to ensure every child gets the education they need. There shouldn’t be one rule for private schools and one rule for everybody else. The most overfunded schools are the ones who need the money the least.

A decade ago, governments agreed that there needed to be a minimum resource standard that all schools were funded to, in order to meet the needs of their students. Yet we still have this profound inequity.

If NSW public schools were funded to the resource standard agreed by governments, there would be an additional $2 billion invested in them every year.

That investment would be life-changing for children in public schools.”

Mr Gavrielatos said a new Commonwealth/State funding agreement, due to be negotiated next year, must ensure public schools are funded to the resource standard as a matter of urgency and must end the overfunding of private schools.

The report also found that the total value of the overspend by the NSW government towards the independent school sector in 2021 was approximately $96 million.

Based on a comparison of the scale of overfunding in 2021 with 2020, the annual size of the overfunding is reducing at the very slow rate of around 5 per cent per annum. If this reduction of approximately $5 million per year were to extend into the future, it will take approximately 20 years for the NSW Government to end its over-funding of private schools.