No govt favouritism of private schools, says principal

by Brett Henebery02 Feb 2015

Do private schools really have it better than public schools?
An article published on Save Our Schools’ (SOS) website last week argued that the government’s school funding increases favoured the private sector, citing ACARA data as evidence to support this argument.
Sholto Bowen of Huntingtower co-educational boarding school is one private school principal who strongly disagrees with Cobbold’s assessment, saying the data that SOS presented did not factor in the various expenses that private schools must foot.
“We cannot have a balanced debate about funding when those with a vested interest in reducing funding to non-government schools do not present an honest picture.”
“Non-government schools have had to increase their fees because government funding does not keep pace with the education index and teachers’ salaries and other expenses go up every year,” Bowen told The Educator.
Bowen went on to say that Government favouritism of private schools over public schools does not exist when funding allocations are cross-examined with SES (Socioeconomic Status) rankings.
“The amount received is based on the school’s SES ranking.
“Those with the highest SES will receive only 18% of what a state school receives. Non-government schools in the lower SES areas may receive as much as 70% of the Average Government School Recurrent Cost.
“To include the amount paid by parents after tax [in these figures] and suggest that the government is giving more to non-government schools is untrue and divisive,” Bowen added.
The SOS article’s suggestion that higher fees helped private schools boost their income lacks context, says Huntingtower School’s principal.
“To suggest that the $17,900 per annum in private school fees compared to $12,400 for state schools is because of government funding increases to non-government schools is simply a misrepresentation of the facts,” Bowen said.
The amount of money being saved by the Government due to the way private schools are funded was highlighted.
“A non-government school with an SES of 112 might receive $4,000 per student from the government and must get the rest from school fees.
“Non-Government schools are therefore saving the government $8,000 for every student that attends a non-government school with that SES. Over the country this amounts to a saving of many billions every year,” Bowen explained, adding the importance of more Government funding for both private and public schools. 
“The government needs to invest far more in education. All state schools and non-government schools must have the resources they need to provide a quality education.”

HAVE YOUR SAY: Do you think a disparity exists between public and private schools? 


  • by RayR 3/02/2015 10:42:56 AM

    Wasn't there a well respected panel led by Professor Gonski that recommended a system of funding for schools that was based on equity, regardless of the education sector? All schools regardless of sector (public, private, Catholic systemic) would recieve a base allocation and those schools with a demonstrated greater need would get loadings to promote equity and excellence regardless of postcode.

    In the NSW Department of Education & Training, this concept is working well. The better off public schools get "enough" but the disadvantaged schools get relatively more per student. I think that's fair. It's certainly transparent. I think the Gonski formula is fair too! No public-private divide, just equity and fairness for all schools in an Australia that believes in a "fair go for all".

  • by Stu 11/02/2015 9:37:26 AM

    He fails to explain why "Private" Schools should be funded by the government at all. There is public benefit in public schools and that is why it is in the best interests of all Australians that every child should receive a high quality education regardless of their parents income or social circumstances. Schools that have unjust entry barriers (such as thousands of dollars in school fees each year) don't provide access in an equitable way. There is a difference between equality and equity.

    The argument that private schools need more funding doesn't stack up when you drive past their glimmering Olympic swimming pools, polo grounds and manicured lawns. It is a question of priorities.