Socio-economic background

The equity loading for socio-economic background is a funding allocation to support NSW public schools to meet the additional learning needs of students from low socio-economic backgrounds.

In 2021, the equity loading for socio-economic background loading will deliver funding to support approximately 413 ,000 students in 2,192 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 low socio-economic background equity loading:

  • provides support for the school’s strategic directions
  • provides maximum opportunities to explore innovative practices that support continuous improvement in student achievement
  • delivers flexible funding and/or additional staffing allocation
  • opportunities for the benefit of students in this equity group
  • is accounted for in terms of impact on students and their learning through the Strategic Improvement Plan (SIP) and the Annual Report
  • is to be expended in the calendar year in which it is received.

Fund allocation

Schools receive flexible funding and/or a staffing allocation. Schools that receive support under this loading in the form of staff entitlement are schools that have existing positions associated with former equity programs.

Schools that have not previously held staff entitlement under an equity program allocation receive flexible funding.

How is the loading calculated?

The loading is based on a combination of student and school need using the FOEI. The FOEI measure was developed following research undertaken by the NSW Department of Education that identified parent/carer education attainment as a strong predictor of student and school performance. If parent/carer occupation is added to this, the predictive power is further enhanced.

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 loading is determined by the school's average FOEI score for the past two 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 four 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.

Why do FOEI scores change?

After the FOEI was introduced in 2014, many schools took the opportunity to update the data they collected from parents through ERN. As a result some schools' FOEI scores changed significantly. The FOEI scores for schools reflect the fact that there is now better quality information about students in our schools and their families.

In 2021, the socio-economic background loading was again determined by the school's average FOEI score for the past two years. The use of an average provides greater stability from one year to the next.

For a more detailed explanation of the FOEI refer to Learning Curve Issue 5 Getting the funding right and the technical paper Family Occupation and Education Index (PFD 968 KB).

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