The fight for fair school funding continues and is being taken to Parliament House

Victorian principals will take their fight for full and fair funding direct to the government today, meeting with the Premier and others.

More than 50 principals from public schools across Victoria will take their demands to see public schools fully funded direct to the Allan Labor government today at state parliament.

The principals will meet with around 30 Labor MPs, including the Deputy Premier and Treasurer, at meetings throughout the day to raise their concerns about the challenges in their schools and across the Victorian public school system.

Read the Term 4 edition of School News HERE

Australian Education Union Victorian Branch President, Meredith Peace, said the principals will be discussing the impacts on student learning of underfunding of public schools and the teacher workforce shortage crisis.

“Victorian public schools are only funded to 90.4 per cent of the Schooling Resource Standard, now the lowest funding level in the country,” Ms. Peace said. “In effect, one in every ten public school students in Victoria is not funded for their education and our principals, teachers and support staff have to make up the shortfall.”

This shortfall amounts to $1.7B in 2024, which is an average of $2,611 per student.

This action in Victoria is the latest in a series of campaigns from schools around the state, advocating for full and fair funding, as set out in the Schooling Resource Standard.

All Northern Territory public schools will be fully and fairly funded by the Australian and Northern Territory Governments following a historic agreement signed on March 13.  Both Governments have signed a Statement of Intent to increase funding for all public schools in the Northern Territory to 100 percent of the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS), by 2029.

This means Northern Territory public schools will reach the full and fair funding level two decades earlier than they would under current settings. It will provide more resources to schools across the Territory to provide extra support to NT students who need it most – helping to improve education outcomes. A similar agreement was reached between the Western Australian Government, and Australian Government earlier this year.

In announcing the agreement, The Federal Government acknowledged the specific challenges facing the Territory, including the significant concentrations of disadvantage, with the funding needed for a public school student in the Northern Territory almost double the national average needed.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said: “Education and equality go hand in hand, however access to quality education has been out of reach for many in the Northern Territory. My Government is committed to making sure that no Australian child is left behind.”

Under the agreement, the Australian Government will invest at least an additional $737.7 million from 2025 to 2029 in Northern Territory public schools. The Northern Territory Government has committed to investing at least an additional $350 million over the same period.

This means the Commonwealth will increase its share of funding from 20 percent to 40 percent of the SRS, contingent on the Territory increasing its funding share to reach 60 per cent by 2029. The agreement will see the most disadvantaged schools receive additional funding first.

“Providing extra funding to Territory schools means more than just being fair – it gives more resources to schools and teachers to help Territory kids be better equipped to enter the workforce,” said Northern Territory Chief Minister Eva Lawler.

“Education has the power to change lives and we’re investing in young Territorians to get the skills and knowledge they need to start their careers.

“We’re working to strengthen every aspect of our education system so our kids are work ready – this $1 billion co-investment helps to open up a new era of opportunities for Territory kids.”

This agreement follows the additional $40.4 million the Commonwealth is investing in Central Australian schools which will see those schools reach 100 percent of the SRS this year.

The Statement of Intent provides a basis for the negotiation of the next National School Reform Agreement and associated bilateral agreements, which will tie funding to reforms that will help students catch up, keep up and finish school.

The Australian Education Union (AEU) has been campaigning to ensure all Australian public schools are fully and fairly funded. President Correna Haythorpe said the current funding situation was shameful, with NT public schools receiving the lowest proportion of Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) funding, despite having the highest levels of student need.

“This funding is long overdue and will change lives in the NTThe bulk of the funding must be delivered well before 2029 because we know that teachers and students need resources now,” Ms Haythorpe said.

Northern Territory school funding
© Nuthawut, Adobe Stock

“The Albanese Government’s commitment to provide 40 percent of the SRS funding for the NT is a just recognition of its superior revenue raising capacity and its responsibility to ensure every child across the nation gets the support they need to succeed.

“The Prime Minister must also ensure that the bilateral agreement signed this year removes the loophole in the current agreement that allows the NT to artificially inflate its SRS share by 4 percent by including non-school costs such as capital depreciation.”

Independent Schools Australia (ISA) represents the interests of the Independent school sector. Chief Executive Officer Graham Catt welcomed the agreement, but reiterated that every student should be fully and fairly funded, regardless of which school they attend or where they are located.

There are 25 Independent schools in the NT, 10 of which are Majority Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Schools, including those enrolling students from remote communities. These schools educate 5863 students, 1326 of whom are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and 1650 are students with disability.

Non-government schools in the Northern Territory currently receive around five percent less from the territory government than the 20 percent share of the SRS that all other state and territories provide to non-government schools. Many Independent schools in the Northern Territory are educating some of the most disadvantaged students in Australia and have minimal or no capacity to raise private income through fees.

“We must not leave these schools behind,” Mr Catt said. “Governments must provide certainty and stability for all schools in all sectors, and ensure equitable education opportunities for students across the Northern Territory.”

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