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1. School Funding and Educational Outcomes: The Equity Gap in Australia

Public schools educate more than 80 percent of students in our lowest socioeconomic strata and face the highest proportion of systemic disadvantage. Some estimates suggest that the achievement gap for such students has tripled, as indicated by the decline in academic performance in Australia. To address the disparities in educational outcomes between advantaged and disadvantaged students, we urgently need to fully fund public schools to the School Resource Standard. Currently, only 1.3% of public schools meet this standard, which is well below the OECD average. Every young person in Australia deserves the opportunity to succeed.

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Summit Responses

Several common threads emerge from the responses of summit attendees regarding "School Funding and Educational Outcomes" :

  • Equity in funding and resources for public schools

  • Transparency and accountability in funding allocation for schools

  • Addressing the specific needs of disadvantaged and remote schools

  • Improving teacher retention and well-being

  • Reassessing the purpose and measures of education success

  • Collaboration between schools, government, and community

Summit attendees proposed 'Best Next Steps':

  1. Increase public awareness of the "equity gap" and make it a voting issue

  2. Ensure funding matches the reality of schools' needs and is directed to schools rather than consumed by the system

  3. Establish minimum standards for school infrastructure, staffing, and resources

  4. Centralise HR, maintenance, and repairs for public schools to reduce principals' workload

  5. Strengthen relationships between schools and TAFE to support VET delivery

  6. Review funding metrics to address the needs of the most disadvantaged students

  7. Provide incentives for teachers working in the public sector and remote areas

  8. Assess non-government schools' funding based on their adherence to the same rules as public schools

  9. Improve access to mental health support and ensure an inclusive school culture

  10. Engage student voice in discussions about educational needs and priorities

  11. Develop a national plan to elevate the status of teaching and address workforce issues

  12. Implement a uniform approach to supporting students with disabilities across all states

  13. Establish a national council of students to ensure their voices are heard

  14. Encourage bipartisan support for long-term educational outcomes, independent of election cycles

  15. Balance quantitative and qualitative measures of success, considering diverse pathways and well-being

ASPA's Best Next Steps

1. The 2024 Better Fairer Schools Agreement must ensure every school is funded to 100% of the SRS by 2026, at a minimum

2. The full funding quantum should go to schools, without the 4% loophole for capital depreciation, and spending on school transport, regulatory authorities, and other costs

3. Increase the additional loadings for disadvantaged schools to catch up and develop a plan for effectively resourcing inclusive education in our public  secondary schools.

4. Amend the School Upgrade Fund as a broader School Infrastructure Fund, that includes a priority for the provision of reliable high speed internet access for all secondary students.

5. For all school sectors the Australian Government Schools Funding Report must:

  • Measure and report on social segregation between schools and its effect on student wellbeing and achievement

  • Assess and report on the accessibility and affordability of Australian schools

  • Assess and report on the fiscal impacts of government funding of non-government schools

Guest Articles

Related Links and Resources

Review to Inform a Better and Fairer Education System - Summary Report 2023

School Autonomy Reform and Social Justice in Australian Public Schooling

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