Budget Fails to Deliver for Public Schools

The Federal Budget fails to deliver the funding that public schools need and will widen a $30 billion capital infrastructure divide between public and private schools. 

AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe said it was deeply disappointing that this year’s Federal Budget had failed to increase the Commonwealth share of the Schooling Resource Standard to 25%, despite widespread support across the nation for this increase, from principals, teachers, parents, unions, community groups and six state and territory governments. 

“This is a missed opportunity to deliver a nation-building investment for our children and our country. The issue of full funding of public schools is unfinished business for the Albanese Government and must be resolved this year.”

“We recognise that funding negotiations between the Albanese Government and state and territory governments are still underway, and we are united in our resolve to campaign to achieve full funding. Our members know that fully funding public schools is the only way to ensure that every child gets every opportunity to succeed, and that teachers and education support staff are backed with the resources they need to deliver high quality education for all. 

“The public knows that there is deep inequity in how public schools are funded when compared with private schools in Australia. If the government can find $2.5 billion to overfund 40% of private schools they can find the money to meet their election commitment to end the underfunding of public schools. This commitment will only be realised when the Albanese Government puts the dollars on the table. 

“Right now, only 1.3% of public schools are funded at 100% of the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS), which is the minimum level governments agreed a decade ago was required to meet the needs of students. 

“The challenges are too great and the cost of inaction too high for governments to continue to fail on funding. There are unacceptable achievement gaps between children from different backgrounds and locations, acute teacher shortages and alarming declines in student wellbeing and engagement.” 

Ms Haythorpe said the government’s decision to not continue with Capital Works funding for public schools beyond this year, while giving private schools $1 billion in funding for new buildings and facilities over four years is unacceptable and must be reconsidered. 

“By failing to even continue the modest capital funding it is providing this year for public schools, the Albanese Government will only worsen the $30 billion capital spending divide that exists between the sectors,” she said. 

“Public schools have had one year of dedicated capital funding since 2017, worth $216 million. For schools which have benefitted from this funding, it has meant new facilities such as toilets and outdoor learning areas.” 

“At the same time private schools have raked in $1.25 billion, some of which went to the richest schools in the nation. Private schools will now get an additional $1 billion over four years and public schools will get nothing.” 

“The Albanese Government should be leveling the playing field between public and private schools, not tilting it further in favour of private schools. 

“There is a huge unmet need for new and upgraded public schools where teachers and principals can meet the increasingly diverse needs of students in safe, modern, purpose-built classrooms, libraries and learning spaces.” Ms Haythorpe said. 

Ms Haythorpe said the positives in the budget were paid practicums for students studying to become teachers, funding for the second round of teaching scholarships and the First Nations Teacher Strategy. 

“We welcome the Albanese Government’s commitment to mechanisms which support initial teacher education students as they are developing their teaching craft.”