Principal, teacher and parent representatives are joining together in Canberra today for the first time to call for the Prime Minister to keep his promise and deliver full funding of public schools.

joint letter to the PM, signed by the leaders of the seven organisations, says new funding agreements with states and territories, due to be signed this year, represent an opportunity for a “historic, national building-investment” that will help achieve the national goals of excellence and equity in schooling.

The letter states that funding all schools to 100% of the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) is urgent and is needed to address the teacher shortage crisis, the decline in student wellbeing and mental health and close unacceptable achievement gaps between students from different backgrounds and parts of Australia.

The organisations are calling for full funding of public schools by 2028, at the latest, with the Commonwealth contributing a minimum of 25% of the SRS, along with the removal of loopholes in the current agreements that allow states and the NT to artificially inflate their SRS share by 4%.

AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe said only 1.3% of public schools are funded at the SRS compared to 98% of private schools. The SRS is the minimum amount of funding a school needs to meet the needs of its students.

“Inequality in funding is driving inequality in outcomes between students from different backgrounds and locations,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“Those unacceptable gaps can be as large as six years of learning between students of the same age.

“New figures from the Productivity Commission shows public school funding increased by 20.3% (or 2% per year) in real terms between 2012-13 and 2021-22. Private school funding from governments increased over the same period by 37%.

“This is despite public schools educating the vast majority of students with higher needs including those from disadvantaged backgrounds, rural and remote areas, students with a disability and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. 

“With full funding principals and teachers can change the lives of students across the nation. It will mean more help for children at risk of falling behind and more support for teachers inside and outside of the classroom to cut their workloads and help address the growing needs of students.

“There also needs to be a significant investment of capital funding in new bilateral agreements struck this year.”