Needs-based funding

In NSW public schools, our students and schools are not the same. Their complexity and diversity requires the flexible approach to funding that we deliver through the Resource Allocation Model (RAM). In 2014, the model was designed to deliver funding based on their student and school needs, and today it continues to ensure that funding is distributed to reduce barriers faced by students from priority equity cohorts.

The 'Review of Funding for Schooling' (2011) recommendations resulted in the implementation of needs-based funding delivered to NSW public schools through the Resource Allocation Model (RAM).

The second Gonski report 'Through Growth to Achievement' (2018) focused on what Australia’s education system and your school needs to do with the funding to make a difference.

Needs-based funding for all NSW public schools began in 2014 with equity loadings delivered through the Resource Allocation Model (RAM). It has been delivered as additional funding to your school to directly support the needs of student equity groups, and includes the 4 equity loadings for Aboriginal background, socio-economic background, low level adjustment for disability and English language proficiency.

Schools also receive targeted funding to support the provision of personalised learning and support for students with particular learning needs who will benefit from targeted individual support. Funding for this support enables your school to respond to these additional student learning needs as they arise throughout the school year.

The targeted funding supports refugee students, newly arrived students who need intensive English language support and students with moderate to high levels of adjustment for disability.

The RAM was developed to ensure a fair, efficient and transparent allocation of the state public education budget for every school. This needs-based funding model uses a base and loadings approach.

Image: Resource allocation model

The Resource Allocation Model webpage provides information on aspects of the school budget allocation.

Equity funding

Equity funding is provided to your school to address the additional learning needs of students and reduce the impact on disadvantage in student outcomes.

If your school receives equity funding, your Strategic Improvement Plan (SIP) must explicitly state the targets and/or other improvement measures related to those student groups. Funding is provided for:

Students from low socio-economic backgrounds often face additional educational challenges. The equity funding for socio-economic background provides funding to your school to address the additional learning needs of these students.

The equity funding for Aboriginal students is a funding allocation to support NSW public schools to meet the learning needs of every Aboriginal student.

To ensure the learning needs of all Aboriginal students are catered for, other equity funding such as socio-economic and low level adjustment for disability (if relevant) may be combined with the Aboriginal student funding. Your school should also use your whole school budget to progress the teaching and learning needs of Aboriginal students. Collaborative decision making is critical. Principals have responsibility, in consultation with Aboriginal parents and carers, Elders, local or regional AECGs and community members, to determine the best way to support the learning needs of your students.

The equity funding for English language proficiency (ELP) provides your school with resources to support English as an additional language or dialect (EAL/D) learners. This funding supports students whose first language is a language or dialect other than Standard Australian English and who require additional support to develop English language proficiency.

If your school receives an English language proficiency loading, you must develop an EAL/D Student Support Strategy to meet the English language learning needs of your EAL/D students. To ensure that your EAL/D students’ needs are catered for, funds from a variety of sources, including other equity funding, may be combined with the English language proficiency loading, as appropriate.

The equity funding for low level adjustment for disability (LLAD) provides all mainstream NSW public schools with access to a specialist teacher and flexible funding.

The resource is designed to support the needs of your students who have additional needs, with or without a formal diagnosis of disability, and their teachers. The resources are provided to support students with additional learning and support needs in all mainstream schools to improve student outcomes and strengthen the capacity to meet obligations to students under the Commonwealth Disability Standards for Education 2005.

The School Budget Allocation Report

Your school receives a School Budget Allocation Report (SBAR) in early Term 4 which shows the full school funding allocation. This includes equity and targeted funding, as well as staffing, location and operational costs, based on published anticipated enrolments for the following year.

The SBAR will also show the initiative funding allocations your school will receive to support activities focused on achieving excellence in teaching and learning. Initiatives include:

  • Professional learning
  • School support allocation (principal support)
  • SSP quality teaching support

The SBAR resource hub provides key advice for ensuring the purposeful use of funding and examples of effective practice for schools. It details:

  • how funding is allocated
  • how to use the funding strategically
  • examples of effective practice in using equity funding to support your students and their learning
  • resources and contact details.

The SBAR assists your school to develop their own budget and allocate funding to deliver on the strategic directions in your Strategic Improvement Plan (SIP).

Your school receives their updated SBAR in late Term 1 of the following year, based on published Actual student enrolments with many of the allocations not changing between SBAR and the updated SBAR adjustments.

The animation 'The SBAR: Getting Started' provides an overview of the structure and purpose of the School Budget Allocation Report. This animation helps school leaders to understand the elements used in the development of their School Budget Allocation Report.

Flexibility in local school decision making

Flexibility in the use of funding is about making evidence-based decisions and planning strategically to spend funding on meeting both your school and student need. The flexibility is evident in how a school links funding decisions to the strategic directions articulated in your Strategic Improvement Plan.

Principals in NSW public schools are able to manage their total school budget strategically in order to deliver improved learning outcomes for all students. Your school can create additional staffing positions by:

  • Engaging additional teaching staff to enable dedicated leadership of strategic direction implementation. For example, an additional classroom teacher is engaged to release an experienced teacher from face-to-face, to drive the implementation of your whole school wellbeing initiative.
  • Engaging your support staff to increase targeted support in addressing specific student learning needs. For example, a school learning support officer (SLSO) is engaged and trained to support the delivery of a Literacy Intervention program.
  • Creating ACIPs on a temporary or permanent basis to implement specific whole school initiatives. For example, an expert teacher is employed using flexible funds to develop classroom teacher capabilities in using the numeracy progressions, and to inform individual student learning goals.
  • Securing specialist expertise such as a speech pathologist, a physiotherapist or a technical support officer (TSO). For example, your primary school has identified significant student needs in oral language skills. Your school has targeted this as an initiative in a strategic direction and uses flexible funds to employ a speech pathologist to work directly with your students and also build staff capabilities to provide support to students in their language development.
  • Employing additional administrative staff using the school support allocation (principal support)*. For example, your school employs a 0.4 business manager to undertake the management of the school’s business functions related to administration, asset management, procurement and finance. This reduces the principal’s administrative load and allows the principal to focus on educational leadership.

* provided to schools following the 2017 Deloitte study of Principal workload.

Why do we use a RAM model?

The 'Review of Funding for Schooling' led by David Gonski in 2011 made recommendations that resulted in the implementation of needs-based funding delivered to NSW public schools through the Resource Allocation Model (RAM). In March 2018 the Review Panel presented their final report, 'Through Growth to Achievement: Report of the Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools', which, on page xii:

  • identified 3 priorities to maximise the achievements of every student
  • made recommendations across 5 areas.

The 3 priorities

Image: The report identified 3 priorities to maximise the achievements of every student

Recommendations across 5 areas

To deliver these 3 priorities it made recommendations across these 5 areas.

Image: The report recommended 5 areas where these priorities should be delivered

Learn more

Find out more about School Excellence in Action.


  • Finance and accounting
  • Teaching and learning


  • Finance
  • Leadership and management
  • Planning, budgeting and forecasting
  • Reporting and performance
  • School Excellence Framework

Business Unit:

  • School Performance – South
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