Damning report shows school funding inequity

Social hierarchy of advantaged and disadvantaged schools continues to emerge, report says

Rising inequality in schools funding drove bigger gaps in achievement between advantaged and disadvantaged schools between 2010 and 2015, a new Centre for Policy Development report shows.

Uneven Playing Field: The State of Australian Schools analyses the data available for 2010 to 2015 from the My School website.

Centre for Policy Development Fellow and co-author Chris Bonnor said: “The data shows Australia’s schools are more inequitable than they were only five years ago. A child’s background is having a greater impact on their ability to succeed at school.

“Implementing all the Gonski recommendations would have helped to offset the impact of privilege and social status. Yet a social hierarchy of advantaged and disadvantaged schools continues to emerge. Students often move to preferred public and private schools which have barriers such as entrance exams or commercial fees. A concentration of disadvantage is occurring in many of our remaining schools [where] students do not have a choice to move to other schools because of their background.

“If we truly believe an accessible, quality public education matters, we must put the Gonski recommendations at the centre of federal and state education policy.”

Co-author and retired principal Bernie Shepherd said: “We are drifting further from the goals of equity and excellence. Policymakers aren’t addressing major deficiencies, like the fact that non-government schools receive more total funding than public schools.

On current trends most Catholic school students will receive more public funding than government school students by 2020. Government schools funding is often imbalanced and misdirected, making the trends worse.”

AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe said Gonski funding was beginning to address inequalities “but two-thirds of the extra funding schools need comes in the last two years of Gonski — the years that Malcolm Turnbull plans to cut”.

“Labor and the Greens have committed to an extra $3.8 billion in 2018 and 2019 to fund the Gonski reforms in schools,” she said.

“We should not accept a situation where students at disadvantaged schools are three years behind their advantaged peers by the time they get to year 9, and where one in seven students is at risk of leaving school without the literacy skills they need for a job.” Read the full report at the Centre for Policy Development website.

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