AEU delivers sky high message on school funding

The Australian Education Union today used skywriting above Parliament House in Canberra to deliver a message to the Prime Minister about the need to keep his promise to fully fund public schools.

The message Fund our Schools PM appeared at 11.30am as a reminder of how urgent it is to address the unacceptable situation that sees only 1.3% of public schools fully funded.

AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe said the need for full funding was underlined by new figures that show private schools had 25% more total income per student than public schools in 2022. That is despite public schools educating the vast majority of students with higher needs, including over 80% of low SES, First Nations, remote and very remote students.

Ms Haythorpe said the income gap was fuelled by inequitable government funding with the Productivity Commission reporting public funding for private schools increased at almost twice the rate of public school funding between 2012-13 and 2021-22.

“Only 1.3% of public schools are funded to the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS), which is the minimum level governments agreed a decade ago was required need to meet the needs of students,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“By contrast, every private school outside the NT is funded at or above 100% of its SRS entitlement. Instead of levelling the playing field for children, government funding is entrenching inequity.

“Making our education system fairer starts with fairer funding. The Prime Minister needs to reach agreements with state and territory governments this year that fund every public school at 100% of the SRS by 2028, at the latest.

“For each state, the Albanese Government must increase its contribution from 20% to 25% of the SRS. 

“The Prime Minister was right when he said on the weekend that education “is the single most powerful weapon we have against disadvantage and the single best investment we can make in our nation’s future productivity and prosperity.’”

“The challenges are too great and the cost of inaction too high for governments to continue to fail on public school funding.”

The schools Expert Panel that reported to education ministers in December said the full funding of public schools was “urgent and critical” and a prerequisite for student learning and wellbeing improvement. The panel said the need for full funding was all the more urgent because of the “full funding arrangements that already exist in the non-government sector.”