Labor corrupts Gonski 2.0 needs-based school funding

By Leith van Onselen

Yesterday, I derided the Labor Party for promising to undo the Gonski 2.0 needs-based school funding model by vowing to pork-barrel Catholic Schools to the tune of $250 million.

In a similar vein, the left-leaning Centre for Policy Development has joined the fray, labelling Labor’s pork barrelling of Catholic Schools a “funding horor story” that will “corrupt” fair school funding plans. From The Guardian:

Almost a year ago we thought that peace had been declared in the school funding wars. True, the Turnbull government’s “Gonski” school funding changes fall well short on many fronts but the government did try to bury the special deals that have dogged school funding for decades. After less than a year Labor has resurrected them in a planned gift of $250 million to Catholic schools in the first two years of a new Labor government.

Both sides of politics have done these deals in the past and they have always corrupted whatever fair school funding plan has been designed…

To get a picture of the chaos that has emerged all you need is a computer and an internet connection to log onto the My School website. Find your local public school and add together its combined Australian and state government recurrent funding per student. Then go to the Naplan section, find a Catholic school enrolling similar students and check their combined government funding. In a surprising number of cases around Australia it is almost as high, if not higher than the public school – the one which must be open to all students…

Around Australia the vast majority of Catholic schools receive between 90% and 100% of the recurrent public per-student funding received by public schools. In financial terms Catholic schools, and large numbers of Independent schools, have become public schools.

It might make some sense if they had to meet the same (and often expensive) obligations as public schools, but they fall well short. They choose where and who they serve, their fees ensure that in almost every community they enrol students who are more advantaged. That’s easy to check on My School. While many Catholic schools do their very best, as a system they aren’t obliged to enrol or continue serving any student who might pose an extra challenge.

And the Labor party wants to hand them an additional $250 million…

Labor has apparently not been able to learn anything new. The difference this time around is that they might get an unwelcome judgment from an electorate that has, and one that expects something better.

As I noted yesterday, the original botched Gonski program implemented by Labor would have seen non-government school students  – and those in Catholic schools in particular – receiving greater taxpayer funding than average public school students by 2020:

ScreenHunter_13296 Jun. 02 10.21

By comparison, the Gonski 2.0 package proposed by the Turnbull Government would redirect some funding from these privileged Catholic schools to public schools, improving equity and saving the Budget billions in the process.

It beggars belief that Labor opposes Gonski 2.0 and is seeking to engage in a new special deal with the Catholic School sector, corrupting the school funding system in the process.

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  1. Leith
    I know about this issue intimately and I have to say that your reporting on school funding is an embarrassment to this website. You know nothing about this issue and simply rehash biased reports and articles produced by public education lobbyists. It makes me greatly question the credibility of your other work. Stick to your knitting pal.

  2. Well first things first. Coming soon to a religious site near you will be an Oliver Cromwell like retaliation against the catholic faith. Just waiting on no tell pell case.
    If you have seen what cromwell did to churches in the UK you will have an idea
    Second. Everytime it see a group of school kids, say 15 years away from graduation, I ask myself what will it be like for them?
    Technology is moving so fast they will not need to think, maybe not allowed to think, and migrants will be doing all the domestic chores.
    Living in a highrise does not give you competitive motor skills, nor appropriate social skills.
    I dont know the value of education at all these days.
    Some serious thinking is needed to resolve this

    • well they could sign up to reparations for child abuse, that’d help us to think better of them.
      ps your other point is spot on.
      pps one of the sad failures of current Higher Ed is that it encourages the kids to hide in their bedrooms (where they develop psychological disorders). A massive surprise when they get into the workforce and find out that social skills and teamwork are pretty much the top priority of every employer…

      • On the bright side, John, the broad mental dysfunction of which you speak opens the field up somewhat to those kids who are being brought up properly. I, for one, will lose far less sleep as I get comfortable with the idea that my children are unlikely to face as much competition for top jobs as I’d originally anticipated 😉

        Thanks for raising a good point.

  3. Leith
    To build on an earlier comment (awaiting moderation), I will provide further context for one of your statements:
    “As I noted yesterday, the original botched Gonski program implemented by Labor would have seen non-government school students – and those in Catholic schools in particular – receiving greater taxpayer funding than average public school students by 2020”
    You are making this statement based on the work of two well-known public schooling lobbyists in 2016, who made some bizarre assumptions (over future state and federal funding for schools) to draw this chart. It is the work of lobbyists and completely made-up. It has nothing to do with the Gonski 1.0 funding model. Now, as it turns out, school financial data for 2016 (released earlier this year) has shown that government funding for government schools increased by more than funding for Catholic and independent schools in 2016 (as was always going to happen under the Gonski 1.0 funding model). That means the chart – which was always completely contrived, to argue that funding for govt schools urgently needed to be increased – is wrong within one year of it being drawn.
    The fact is that the Government has totally stuffed up its school funding policy. It has gone ‘all in’ on a biased measure of school need (school SES scores). School SES scores judge how much people can afford to pay to attend a school based on their neighbourhood. It is really inaccurate and is biased in favour of the wealthiest families. They massively overfund elite independent schools (like Wesley College)
    It has also switched to a new dataset to fund students with disability. The new dataset is rubbish. It is based on teachers making decision on whether students in their classroom have a disability (and will therefore receive extra $ from the government) without any independent oversight. Wealthy independent schools are claiming that >25% of their students have disabilities under the new dataset – they are clearly rorting the system. Many of these will now get massive funding increases. It’s crazy.
    And the Government has also legislated a funding model that will given independent schools that are assessed to be overfunded 10 years to transition to less funding. However, Catholic and government schools that are in the same situation will transition to a lower level of funding in just 6 years. That is blatantly unfair.
    So there is a lot more to this than you understand. When you write this sort of stuff – it really does you no credit.

    • Ronin8317MEMBER

      Thanks to MySchool, you can tell how much each school is getting for each children. It is not ‘lobbyists’ try to distort the trend, it is the facts.

      Using schools in the same area. In Westmead, Sydney. Both Sacred Heart Primary School ($10,535) and Mother Teresa Primary School($9,214) get more government funding per student than Westmead Public ($8,512). How is this fair?

      • The projections were lobbyists making forecasts using assumptions that suited their case. The latest MySchool data (2016) shows that those assumptions were wrong…they were always going to be wrong…
        Those Catholic schools get the amount of funding they are allocated by the NSW Catholic system. NSW government schools get the funding they are allocated by the NSW education department. They have different formulas, so they get different amounts. The differences for individual schools don’t reflect injustices in funding…they reflect different formulas…or different school contexts…
        Anyway in terms of those schools in Westmead – Westmead public is huge (over 1,000 students) so highly efficient, so doesn’t ‘need’ large funding (in $/student terms). The Catholic schools are both small by comparison (<400 students) so they 'need' higher funding (in $/student terms). There are huge economies of scale in schooling…The size of the schools is the main thing diving the different funding they receive.
        A more direct/relevant comparison in Westmead would be Mother Teresa (381 students) versus Westmeadows primary (446 students) – because they are similar size. In that comparison, the government primary school receives about $1,000/student more…
        So when you compare 'similar' schools, the NSW government schools receive more…

      • Ronin8317MEMBER

        Westmeadows primary is in Victoria. Also, Westmead Public is not a big school by area : it only has so many student because there are no other public school nearby, and it uses a lot of demountable classrooms.

  4. The words ‘corrupt’ and ‘government’ appeared in the same sentence.

    Shurely shome mishtake?!