Australia's most overfunded schools revealed

by Brett Henebery29 Sep 2016

Federal Education Department data shows that some private schools are receiving taxpayer funding almost three times greater than their entitlements.

The data – which was tabled as part of 2014 Senate Estimates – revealed that in 2014, more than 150 private schools across Australia received funding above their Schooling Resourcing Standard (SRS).

The SRS measures how much government funding each school is entitled to, including extra loadings to help address disadvantage.

The school that was shown to be the most overfunded in the country was Loreto Kirribilli, located in Sydney, which received 283% of its funding entitlement.

However, Peter Goss, school education program director at the Grattan Institute, told The Educator that equal attention should be paid to overfunded schools in the public and Catholic system.

“The data won’t show this, because government and Catholic schools are treated as a system, but the point holds,” he said.

“The principle is that schools should be funded on the basis of need, regardless where they are. Every dollar spent on a school that is over-funded compared to need is a dollar that can’t be spent on a school that needs it more.”

Goss added that the data shows that some independent schools are actually funded way below their needs-based entitlement.

“Parents in those schools have just as much right to be furious about the way the funding model works as a parent in an under-funded Catholic or government school,” he said.

“Yet this part of the story has not been well told.”

NSW: most over-funded private schools 

Loreto Kirribilli

Government funding to School Resourcing Standard: 283%
Annual fees (senior years): $18,675
Monte Sant' Angelo Mercy College 

Government funding to School Resourcing Standard: 277%
Annual fees (senior years):  $19,680
Saint Ignatius' College Riverview

Government funding to School Resourcing Standard: 263%
Annual fees (senior years): $25,680

Brigidine College, St Ives

Government funding to School Resourcing Standard: 197%
Annual fees $16,330

Northern Beaches Christian School, Terrey Hills

Government funding to school resourcing standard: 184%
Annual fees (senior years) $13,990

Victoria: most over-funded private schools

St Paul's College Kew, special school for students with disabilities

Government funding to School Resourcing Standard: 165%
Fees: NA

Melbourne Grammar School

Government funding to School Resourcing Standard: 144%
Annual fees (senior years): $30,360

Al Siraat College

Government funding to School Resourcing Standard: 135%
Annual fees (senior years): $2,732

Christ Church Grammar School, South Yarra

Government funding to School Resourcing Standard: 130%
Annual fees (senior years) $26,005

Insight Education Centre for the Blind and Vision Impaired

Government funding to School Resourcing Standard: 126%
Annual fees: NA


  • by Evan Hughes 29/09/2016 10:29:31 AM

    As a principal in the state system in the outer Northern Suburbs of Melbourne I find this not only appalling but offensive. Not only do these elite schools have a select entry process to 'cherry pick' the best students, there is not compulsion to address behavioural, social, learning difficulties or even students with a learning disability - this is left to the underfunded state system schools. These state schools who do a remarkable with limited financial resources should be commended for 'punching above their eight' in comparison. Private schools have their place and a choice for those that can afford the fees but when government funding outstrips state schools by 100-300% then that is obscene. Equal education for all is the mechanism to build a prosperous future for this country so how about our 3-year term incremental thinking of our federal pollies, of all persuasions, change & invest in all students equally. It would seem that the rich are getting richer not only in wealth acquisition but education too.

  • by Gail Brown 29/09/2016 10:36:50 AM

    So - if the public and catholic schools are funded by their "system" - THEN - how do we ever get to see whether there are schools in those systems that are overfunded? The WHOLE education funding model needs to be transparent, at the school level. That will be the ONLY way that an equitable comparison of all schools' funding, across systems and sectors, can be made. As well, there are some schools (across systems and sectors) where MUCH funding has been allocated, and where the changes in school culture, teaching and students' learning outcomes remain unchanged - over several years. Any comparison needs to take into account how much of both Australian Government and State Government funding is allocated. There will be NO winners as long as we continue to debate one sector or system against another - the issue is the appropriate funding of ALL schools, based on students' learning needs. The challenge is to provide an equitable and transparent system for this to happen.

  • by Anthony Edwards 29/09/2016 11:41:11 AM

    I am also a principal in the state system, a school in a significantly disadvantaged community. I agree with Evan Hughes, including the comment about selective ‘cherry picking’ and its ramifications. As difficult and appalling as that is, the ‘system’ that has allowed that to happen is at the core of a problem that will exist for a long time yet, until such time as there is national leadership that has the courage to bring key stakeholders together with one voice. That voice is about the long-term plan of moving beyond the marketisation of education, where research, economics and simple observation and the wisdom of time will tell you that there are always winners, and there are always losers. The application of the ‘Matthew Effect’ kicks in: those who have plenty gain in abundance; those who have little, lose what little they have’. Both sides of politics are equally complicit, and it is something that has sadly been embedded in our contemporary culture. It will be, therefore, forever thus until such time as long-term foresight is invoked – something that can be well and truly learnt from Finland’s model and planning, where every school is a great school, not some more than others. In the meantime, the Gonski model as a shorter term antidote developed under Labor’s watch must be applied – not selectively cherry-picked as current politicking has done – in a way that individualises student and family needs. That therefore includes fair distribution to all schools, and if that requires a correction for some, then so be it.