Two out of every three dollars of commonwealth school funding go to private schools: one of the highest levels of private school funding in the Western world. With substantial assets and yearly income in the millions, these schools clearly need some extra help for their pool renovations, large-capacity theatres and new rowing sheds.
All this was supposed to change with the Turnbull government’s Gonski 2.0 funding plan, announced last year. Under the new plan, commonwealth funding is meant to be redistributed from private to public schools, resulting in an immediate decrease in funding for 24 elite schools.
But figures obtained by the Guardian reveal that, for all 24 of these schools, government funding has actually increased, as has the overall proportion of federal funding going to private schools.
This is thanks to a $7.1 million fund established to top up schools that stand to lose funding in the first year of the new arrangement.
Money from the fund has gone to such disadvantaged schools as Loreto Kirribilli on Sydney’s North Shore and Melbourne Grammar in South Yarra. Loreto Kirribilli received $381,274 from the federal government this year, despite being slated for a $200,000 decrease in funding.
Some schools are getting the money despite being able to recoup the shortfall through private sources. William Clarke College in Sydney actually raised its 2018 income by $100,000 by increasing student fees and receiving donations from parents. Yet the college still got $252,000 from the government.
This isn’t the only handout being given to the nation’s wealthy young students. The National Adjustment Assistance Fund, $40 million set aside for “disadvantaged or vulnerable schools”, is also accessible to private schools.
Who gets the cash? The government won’t say, but the Australian Education Union says “secretive special deals” mean that money which should be going to disadvantaged public schools is being channelled to the private sector.So while Gonski 2.0 has been sold on the basis of reducing massive handouts to private schools, behind the scenes, the Turnbull government ensures that no such reduction takes place and that the creeping privatisation of the school system continues.