Spend it - new budgeting rules for schools

A new policy introduced this week requires all public schools to spend their education funding within the year it was allocated to drive student outcomes.

New rules introduced this week for NSW public school principals will mean they must spend all of their record education funding on the students it is intended for.

Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell said the move is being supported by additional training and tools to simplify school budgeting so that every dollar allocated is being invested in the current cohort of students.

“We know there are some principals who need more support to effectively spend the funding they are receiving on the students it is intended for,” Ms Mitchell said.

“Our schools are required to plan and spend each year’s budget allocation within that calendar year using new tools and a simplified budgeting system.

The school funding model is student focused, schools receive amounts depending on their student cohort.

“Public schools in NSW are better funded than at any point in history. It is imperative that this money is actually spent on the current student cohort. Gonski funding is there to lift student outcomes - it’s not there to be saved for a rainy day,” Ms Mitchell said.

“The NSW Government’s commitment to record funding in schools has always been student focused. Every dollar allocated must be spent on providing the support and services to the students it was intended for, within that year.”

The Carry Forward Policy was developed in consultation with school stakeholders over a 12-month period and is part of a renewed focus on school success to ensure the necessary supports are in place to drive student outcomes.

The policy will apply to the annual State and Federal budget allocations but does not affect funds from local school and community sources.

“We have fought hard to achieve a needs based, sector blind funding model and we must ensure the necessary system-wide tools are in place to deliver this investment to support the current student cohort.”

In 2021, NSW public schools will receive $10.1 billion to invest in students. Currently $1.49 billion remains unspent from previous years. The changes introduced through this policy will no longer allow schools to rollover funding year to year.

“Principals will no longer be able to rollover funds across years, and measures will be put in place to provide additional support to invest the funding in current students. This may take the form of guidance on teaching practice and learning programs, or extra staff and resources in areas of need,” Ms Mitchell said.

“Introducing this policy also provides our schools with clarity to spend the balances that they have accumulated from past budgets. Schools will be supported to spend these balances evenly over the next four years in alignment with school Strategic Improvement Plans.

“Under the new School Success Model introduced this year, a range of individual targets have been set for schools to meet.

“Schools that have ‘underspends’ who are not meeting targets will receive instruction on how to spend their unspent funding to lift their results.”

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