Perth College Perth 060517 AFR pic by Erin Jonasson. Perth College the private Girls School in Mt.Lawley. First use AFR please. Girls in the school grounds with folders, pencil cases, notes and books, senior and Junior private school education. winter uniform, cost of education, generic hold for files. SPECIALX 00051350 Photo: Erin JonassonFederal funding for some of Sydney and Melbourne’s most prestigious private schools – which charge fees up to $34,000 a year – will soar over the next decade under the Turnbull government’s “Gonski 2.0” changes, while others will have their funding slashed.
The Catholic school sector argues the funding increases for high-fee schools show the federal government’s school funding formula is faulty and disadvantages their schools, which tend to charge relatively low fees.
While much attention has focused on the 350 private schools that will have their funding slowed over the next decade, some high-fee independent schools will receive significant funding increases because they are currently underfunded according to the Gonski formula.
For example the King’s School in North Parramatta, which charges $34,323 a year for senior students, will receive a total funding increase of $19.3 million funding increase over the next decade.
Per student funding for King’s will rise from $4527 this year to $6849 in 2027, a 50 per cent increase over the decade.
The government has committed to funding all non-government schools at 80 per cent of their needs-based funding entitlement.
King’s currently receives 77 per cent of its federal entitlement – well below overfunded schools such as Loreto Kirribilli and St Aloysius’ College in Milsons Point that will have their funding cut.
King’s headmaster Tim Hawkes praised the government for implementing a funding model that was “sector blind, transparent and consistently applied”.
“The sweetheart deals done in the past have created a funding landscape that lacks fairness,” he said.
“For example, the wealth of independent schools in the ACT was assessed by government as being greater than that of King’s, yet a sweetheart deal has resulted in them being funded at a significantly higher level.”
Newington College in Stanmore and Santa Sabina College in Strathfield, which charge fees of $32,000 and $22,000 respectively, will also receive funding increases of $19 million over the next decade.
They will receive similar per student funding as Catholic high schools such as Gilroy Catholic College in Castle Hill and St Leo’s College in Wahroonga which have the same socioeconomic profile but charge much lower fees.
Gilroy charges $2977 a year in fees while St Leo’s charges parents $6797 a year.
Funding for Melbourne’s Caulfield Grammar School, which charges fees of $29,355 for senior students, will grow by $34.8 million in total over the next decade.
Per student funding will rise from $4658 this year to $6864 in 2027.
Wesley College in the city centre and Presbyterian Ladies’ College in Burwood, which charge fees of $30,000 a year, will receive total funding increases of $22 million and $18 million over the decade.
Presentation College, a Catholic high school in Windsor, is assigned the same “capacity to contribute” score as PLC but charges $10,000 a year per student.
National Catholic Education Commission acting executive director Danielle Cronin said the government’s socioeconomic status model did not accurately measure parents’ ability to contribute to the cost of their child’s education and was leading to “perverse outcomes”.
“It seems implausible that for schools of the same SES, one is charging $27,000 per student per year and is, for Commonwealth funding purposes, treated similarly to schools that charge fees of $3000 to $5000 annually,” she said.
“By underestimating how much high-income families can contribute, while overestimating how much lower-income families can contribute, Catholic education contends that SES scores disadvantage Catholic schools serving lower- and middle-income families.
“It falsely assumes a homogeneous population with each parent having the same capacity to pay.”
The Gonski review noted that the SES model was susceptible to a “potentially large degree of inaccuracy” and should be replaced with a more accurate measure, she said.
The Catholic sector is furious with the government for stripping it of the right to fund schools on a system-wide basis and believes private schools have received a better deal.
Education Minister Simon Birmingham said the funding data showed the government was distributing funding in a “fair, consistent and needs-based way”.
“We remain committed to delivering a reform that doesn’t involve special deals with states or provide advantage to one non-government sector at the expense of another,” he said.
He said the SES model, first introduced in 2001, had “been refined, expanded and broadly accepted as a credible way to measure capacity to contribute and is embedded in these reforms to ensure parents continue to be supported to choose what is best for their family”.
A spokesman for the independent schools sector said it supported the use of the SES model and that the data is now quite “fine grained”.
Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows Catholic and private schools enrol a similar proportion of students across all income brackets, he said.
Shelford Girls’ Grammar principal Polly Flanagan said government funding helped pay for new engineering and forensic science courses, teacher salaries, and specialised drug and alcohol sessions for senior students.
The private school in Brighton, which charges $22,145 in senior school fees, received $4306 in government funding this year per student. This will rise to $10,203 in 2027.
“We don’t go spending it on swimming pools,” Ms Flanagan said. “We don’t bank the money, we use it and we need it for day-to-day costs.
“If we didn’t have government funding, we would price parents out of the market.”
Simon Gipson, principal at St Michael’s Grammar School which will receive $5198 government funding per student in 2027 (an increase from $3460 this year), said the funding enabled the school to keep fees under control.
The school currently charges $30,168 for year 12 students.
“The reality is that if fees become unsustainable for a significant number of families, then that will precipitate a move into the government sector, and the cost to government would increase.”
Federal funding for Catholic systemic schools will grow by 3.5 per cent a year per student over the next decade compared to 4.1 per cent for private schools and 5.1 per cent for public schools according to the government.
High-fee private school winners in Melbourne under Gonski 2.0
Caulfield Grammar SchoolSES Score: 117Senior school fees: $29,355Per student funding 2017: $4658Per student funding 2027: $6864Total 10-year increase: $34.8 million
Wesley College, MelbourneSES Score: 120Senior school fees: $29,720Per student funding 2017: $3842Per student funding 2027: $5282Total 10-year increase: $22.1 million
Presbyterian Ladies’ College, BurwoodSES Score: 115Senior school fees: $29,924Per student funding 2017: $4872Per student funding 2027: $7390Total 10-year increase: $17.9 million
Methodist Ladies College, KewSES Score: 123Senior school fees: $29,700Per student funding 2017: $3148Per student funding 2027: $4435Total 10-year increase: $13.1 million
Scotch College, HawthornSES Score: 123Senior school fees: $30,528Per student funding 2017: $2904Per student funding 2027: $4309Total 10-year increase: $13.6 million
High-fee private school winners in Sydney under Gonski 2.0
The King’s School, ParramattaCurrent share of Schooling Resource Standard: 77%Senior school fees: $34,323Per student funding 2017: $4527Per student funding 2027: $7278Total 10-year increase: $19.3 million
Santa Sabina College, StrathfieldCurrent share of Schooling Resource Standard: 69%Senior school fees: $21,975Per student funding 2017: $5048Per student funding 2027: $8148Total 10-year increase: $19.1 million
Newington College, Stanmore Current share of Schooling Resource Standard: 75%Senior school fees: $31,662Per student funding 2017: $4178Per student funding 2027: $5948Total 10-year increase: $18.9 million
Knox Grammar School, Wahroonga Current share of Schooling Resource Standard: 78%Senior school fees: $30,600Per student funding 2017: $2300Per student funding 2027: $3228Total 10-year increase: $13.1 million
Sydney Church of England Grammar School, North SydneyCurrent share of Schooling Resource Standard: 76%Senior school fees: $29,940Per student funding 2017: $2029Per student funding 2027: $3423Total 10-year increase: $11.5 million
– with Timna Jacks