Recent trends in school recurrent funding strongly suggest that over 40 per cent of students in Catholic schools next year will average as much, if not more, public funding than their peers in similar government schools. Two years further on an additional 40 per cent will most likely join them. Half the students in Independent schools are on track to get as much, if not more, than government school students by the end of the decade.
This finding emerges as one of the most significant to date from the authors’ analysis of My School data. They have previously shown that changes in school funding in recent years – increasingly favouring students who are already advantaged – has done little for student achievement and nothing for equity. Earlier this year they pointed to a $3 billion over-investment in better-off students, without any measurable gain in their achievement. Now they find that state and federal governments, within four years, will be funding the vast majority of private school students at levels higher than students in similar government schools. Concerns about funding equity should now be joined by concerns about effectiveness and efficiency in how we provide and fund schools.
This report shows how funding has changed and how familiar claims about the relative cost of schools have become obsolete and misleading. It addresses questions that arise about our schools: what is public, what is private, what should be the difference between them, what obligations do and should fully-funded schools have to the public which pays to run them? Such questions have to be answered if schooling is to provide access and equity combined with effectiveness and efficiency.