Taxpayers forking out too much cash to private schools


Teachers have slammed "overfunded'' elite private schools, in an election showdown over education funding.

 Australian Education Union president Correna Haythorpe said taxpayers were handing too much cash to high-fee private schools that charge parents more than $25,000 a year.

 "What's very clear is that private schools are overfunded,'' she said.

 "Over the last decade, private school funding has grown twice as fast as public school funding, per student. 

"There've been private school handouts and special deals.''

 Ms Haythorpe said two thirds of Australian children attend state schools, which enrol the most children from poor families or with disabilities.

 "The greatest need is in public schools and the vast majority of children from disadvantaged backgrounds come from public schools,'' she said.

 "With the federal election this year or next, we want to make sure school funding is on the agenda.''

Australian Education Union President Correna Haythorpe.
Australian Education Union President Correna Haythorpe.

The AEU will today (Tuesday) launch a campaign to fight for $19 billion more in federal funding over the next four years for state schools, which are operated by state and territory governments.

A YouGov survey of 1256 Australian voters, conducted for the AEU this month, shows that for 37 per cent, increased funding for public schools would be a "top priority'' when voting at the next federal election, with another 46 per cent making it "a priority''.

Three quarters of voters who send their kids to private schools said higher public school funding would be a priority or top priority when voting. Half of all voters felt federal funding for public schools was too low.

Private schools receive little, if any, state government funding so rely on federal funding and tuition fees.

Public schools receive a total of $14,189 per student, on average, in funding from state and territory governments.

Catholic schools receive $12,037 per student while independent schools are given $10,190.

The funding varies widely between schools, depending on the level of need.

 See the list of Queensland's richest schools.

In Brisbane, White Hills State College principal Andrew Beattie wants more money for high-tech teaching, including virtual reality headsets for students.

"Instead of just learning from a textbook, imagine them using VR headsets and being embedded in the middle of Rome at the high of the Empire, seeing and walking through the Colosseum virtually,'' Mr Beattie said.

"Technology has the ability to bring learning to life.''

Mr Beattie said integrated design and manufacturing systems, and the latest IT software and hardware. would prepare students for work in technology, innovation and manufacturing.

Victoria Road Primary School principal Lisa Branch said she would use any extra funding to provide targeted support to students who need more help with reading, numeracy and literacy at her Yarra Valley school.

 "We could also expand on the work we do to extend our students already achieving above expected levels,'' she said.

Queanbeyan Primary Principals' Council president Danny Scott called for more funding for professional development, to stop teachers leaving the profession.

"To say we've got a critical shortage of teachers is an understatement,'' he said.

 "Because of the current shortage, I don't know of any school that is able to put enough teachers in schools at this particular point in time.

 "My first priority is to get a teacher in front of a class.''


Originally published as Taxpayers forking out too much cash to private schools

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