Fair funding for public schools needs immediate action

State Education Ministers have called on the Commonwealth Government to increase the Schooling Resource Standard to 100 per cent in Tuesday's Budget.

The NSW Government logo overlaying a photo of an empty classroom. The NSW Government logo overlaying a photo of an empty classroom.

The public education sector is united in urging the Federal Government to fairly fund public schools in next week’s Federal Budget.

Education Ministers, the Australian Education Union, and principals’ associations are standing shoulder to shoulder and urging the Federal Government to bring the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) up to the full 100 per cent.

A fair funding agreement would result in billions of dollars flowing to schools that desperately need it.

Public schools are currently funded below the SRS, which is the minimum level governments agreed to more than ten years ago following a Commonwealth-initiated review by David Gonski that identified 100 per cent was the minimum amount required to meet the needs of students.

This contrasts with non-government schools, which currently receive above 100 per cent of the SRS.

The needs of our students have become more complex during that time, and coupled with a national teacher shortage crisis, outcomes for students depend upon receiving the funding they deserve.

State and Territory Education Ministers have been urging the Federal Government to lift its public school funding by five per cent, which would close the gap to 100 per cent of the SRS. This will go towards ensuring every child gets the support they need to succeed, including recruiting additional teachers, allied health professionals and support staff in schools.

Next Tuesday’s budget is the opportunity for the Federal Government to deliver its election commitment to get every school to 100 per cent of its fair funding level. Anything less than full funding would be unacceptable to the millions of families who attend public schools.

The Commonwealth only provides 20 per cent of funding for public schools, with states and territories responsible for 75 per cent. This funding inequity is despite public schools educating twice the proportion of students from disadvantaged backgrounds and more than three times the proportion of First Nations students.

It comes as the Federal Government’s review in December 2023 warned that the underfunding of public schools is ‘undermining other reform efforts with real implications for student educational and wellbeing outcomes, teacher attraction and retention’ and the need for full funding was ‘urgent and critical’ as a prerequisite for student learning and wellbeing improvement.

State and territory ministers stand ready to promptly sign a new National School Reform Agreement once fully funding is committed.

Quotes attributable to South Australian Minister for Education, Training and Skills Blair Boyer:

“The funding inequity between public schools and private schools is alarming, which is why I have been standing shoulder to shoulder with NSW, ACT, QLD, TAS and VIC, calling on the Federal Government to fund the full 5 per cent on the SRS.

“In South Australia, the 5 per cent is worth as much as $190m of extra funding for public schools every single year. That would go directly into school supports so that teachers have the time, resources and support to help students achieve the best academic outcomes.

“We are seeing levels of disadvantage rise in the public system – and that has been the case for many years now. We need this money now more than ever before so in the future we can actually look students and staff in the eye and say we are contributing the amount of money they need to make sure they get the same opportunities that students in private schools do as well.”

Quotes attributable to New South Wales Deputy Premier and Minister for Education and Early Learning Prue Car:

“State governments are facing unprecedented pressure as our public schools do the heavy lifting when it comes to educating growing populations, and supporting students with increasingly complex needs. As the largest state in the Commonwealth, NSW is no different.

“We are doing this while tackling a teacher shortage and an infrastructure backlog in high-growth areas – and we cannot continue to go it alone.

“We cannot look parents, teachers and students in the eye any longer and tell them it is OK that the government funds them below what they need.

“The Commonwealth needs to close the gap by lifting its funding by 5 per cent.”

Quotes attributable to Victorian Deputy Premier and Minister for Education Ben Carroll:

“We all want what is best for government school students and our nation’s future leaders.

“Federal Labor changed the course of education funding with the Gonski Review, the biggest reforms in 40 years. Today, we have a collective opportunity to change course after the inequities delivered by the Federal Coalition to the school system.

“We stand ready to work with the Commonwealth Government to deliver fair and full funding to government schools.”

Quotes attributable to Queensland Minister for Education Di Farmer:

“Every student, no matter where they live in Queensland, deserves access to a first-class education.

“We have more disadvantaged schools in regional, remote and rural communities than anywhere in the nation.

“There is no way I can explain to them or any other Queensland school that they don’t deserve 100 per cent funding. The 5 per cent equates to more than $2 billion over five years for Queensland State Schools.

“Education is the greatest opportunity we can offer to our students. If they do not receive a good opportunity then we are changing their chances in life.”

Quotes attributable to Tasmanian Minister for Education Jo Palmer:

“The Tasmanian Government recognises we all share the same vision to deliver the best education and learning outcomes for ALL Australian students.

“We want to work with the Federal Minister and Federal Government to ensure fair and equal funding for all students.

“We must see 100 per cent funding for Tasmania's public schools. Anything less is unacceptable.

“We will continue to participate in constructive discussions to achieve this outcome.”

Quotes attributable to Australian Education Union Federal President Correna Haythorpe:

“Our principals, teachers and support staff are doing an extraordinary job, but they are being asked to do too much with too little and there just aren’t enough of them.

“The challenges in schools have never been greater – more diversity and complexity in student need, increasing wellbeing and mental health issues and acute shortages of teachers due to unsustainable workloads.

“Fully funding public schools is the only way to ensure every child gets the support they need to succeed, and we can recruit and retain sufficient numbers of teachers.

“There needs to be additional teachers and counsellors in schools, along with more support staff and specialist staff such as speech therapists.

“Principals, teachers, parents, unions, community members and governments across Australia all believe the Commonwealth should lift its SRS share from the current 20 per cent to 25 per cent.”

Quotes attributable to Australian Primary Principals Association President Angela Falkenberg:

“APPA believes that every child in Australia should have access to the appropriate support, curriculum, resourcing, and assessment to learn and be well. Full funding of every school is essential to delivering this.”

Quotes attributable to Australian Government Primary Principals Association President Pat Murphy:

“When it comes to education there is no bigger elephant in the room than why government school students are not funded at 100 per cent of the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS). Since 2012 when the Gonski report identified the minimum funding a student should receive, we see only 3 per cent of public school students in Australia receiving this minimum standard.

“The clock is ticking – for the sake of every Australian student this needs to be done.

“The question has to be asked if the Federal Government can’t afford to fund public schools at 100 per cent of the SRS, how do we have the funding for catholic and independent schools to receive 100 per cent?”

Quotes attributable to Australian Government Secondary Principals Association President Andy Mision:

“The Australian Secondary Principals’ Association (ASPA) hopes the Federal Government will honour its election commitment and deliver full funding to all of Australia’s public schools.

“This is not a routine budget line item, it’s a rare opportunity for a hinge-point investment in the future of our nation.

“Fully funded schools mean manageable class sizes, more targeted support for students, and access to much needed technology and resources. This translates to improved learning outcomes, enhanced student wellbeing, and ultimately, a brighter future for millions of young Australians. We urge the government to act now and fulfil the promise to our children and our country.”

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