Last week, the Australian Education Union cited documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act to claim that over 1,000 private schools across Australia will be overfunded by billions of dollars over and above their public funding entitlement under the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS).
However, the Association of Independent Schools of NSW (AISNSW) has hit back at these claims, saying the latest data shows that just 367 of those schools are funded above their current SRS, adding that this number is reducing each year.
“This is the result of a change in the way the Government estimates parents’ ‘capacity to contribute’ which is now primarily based on income tax data,” a spokesperson for the AISNSW told The Educator.
“This change was introduced gradually from 2020 and the result was that some non-government schools attracted more funding and others needed less.”
The spokesperson pointed out that a transition period was agreed with the Government to help the latter group of schools adjust their staffing levels gradually to meet their new, lower government funding.
“You would think a union that purports to represent teachers and fight for their job security would understand and appreciate such an arrangement. It is unhelpful and misleading for the AEU to periodically attack our sector over this change.”
The spokesperson said the AISNSW also rejects the union’s claim that public schools enrol “the vast majority of Australian students and have disproportionately higher rates of students with additional needs, disadvantage and disability”, calling these “outdated myths”.
“These are outdated myths believed only by people who still think all Independent schools charge high fees and are only available to wealthy families.”
The spokesperson said more than half of private schools in Australia charge less than $5,500 a year and educate students from low to middle income families.
“Non-government schools educate more than 35% of all students and this share is rising each year. At the secondary school level, the share is around 42%, so it’s wrong to say that government schools educate the vast majority of Australian students,” they said.
“Each school sector is funded according to both the number of students they enrol and their needs, including the government school sector. Approximately 20% of enrolments in all three sectors – government, Independent and Catholic systemic – are students with a disability.”