Socio-economic background

Socio-economic status has a significant impact on student outcomes. The socio-economic background equity loading is to be used to meet the additional learning needs of students who may be experiencing educational disadvantage as a result of their socio-economic background.

Supporting our students

In 2024, the socio-economic background equity loading delivers funding to support approximately 400,000 students in 2,190 NSW public schools. Schools receive funding for all students in quarters 1 and 2 of the Family Occupation and Education Index (FOEI).

Key messages

The socio-economic background equity loading:

  • provides support for the school’s strategic directions in addressing educational disadvantage associated with socio-economic background
  • underpins opportunities to explore innovative practices that support continuous improvement in student achievement
  • delivers flexible funding and/or additional staff entitlement
  • provides opportunities for the benefit of students who require additional support
  • is accounted for in terms of impact on students and their learning through the Strategic Improvement Plan (SIP) and the school's annual report
  • must be used in the calendar year for which it is provided, including any associated staff entitlement.

Fund allocation

Schools receive flexible funding and/or staff entitlement. Schools that receive staff entitlement under this loading are schools with existing positions associated with former equity programs.

How is the loading calculated?

The loading is based on a combination of student and school needs using the Family Occupation and Education Index (FOEI). The FOEI measure was developed following research undertaken by the NSW Department of Education that identified parent/carer occupation and educational attainment as strong predictors of student learning outcomes.

Information on parent/carer level of school education, highest non-school qualification and occupational category is drawn from data collected on enrolment forms and recorded through the Enrolment Registration Number (ERN) system. Data is extracted from ERN in early Term 2 each year. This information is used to calculate the FOEI score for each school. Schools must ensure their data about parent/carer education and occupation levels is current.

The socio-economic background equity loading is determined by the school's average FOEI score for the past 2 years. The use of an average provides greater stability from one year to the next. The loading is allocated to schools on the basis of greatest need as identified by FOEI data. A school with a high FOEI score is a school with a higher level of need.

All students in NSW public schools are distributed across 4 socio-economic quarters. Every student in quarter 1 and quarter 2 of the FOEI is funded. Quarter 1 students are funded at double the rate of quarter 2 students, as research shows they have a higher level of additional learning needs.

For a more detailed explanation of the FOEI refer to Learning Curve Issue 5: Getting the funding right (PFD 968 KB).


  • Finance and accounting
  • School operations

Business Unit:

  • Finance
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