Analysis of school funding data reported yesterday gives a false impression that government schools attract less public funding than non-government schools, says the National Catholic Education Commission.
An ABC News investigation published online yesterday revealed more than a third of private schools received more public funding that similar public schools in 2016.
“Comparing schools with similar socio-economic characteristics using ‘per-student’ funding data is fraught with problems because it ignores variables such as school size and teacher salaries,” NCEC acting executive director Ray Collins said.
“The data on the MySchool website does not represent the funding governments provide to system schools, but the funding that school systems allocate to meet schools’ needs, based on size and student disadvantage. Systems must reallocate funding from their larger schools to their smaller schools to address student need and cover costs.
“The key point here is ‘Do government schools attract more public funding (state and federal combined) than Catholic schools?’ and the answer is ‘Yes, they do’. That has always been the case and remains the case today.”
In its report yesterday, the ABC compared per-student funding outcomes for two western Sydney schools but failed to take into account their respective sizes – a major factor in the per-student cost. Greystanes Public School has 753 students while St Mary’s Primary School in Rydalmere has 336 students.
“Schools have many fixed costs, therefore mathematically the cost of running a smaller school is higher; the cost of the principal, for example, will be double on a per-student basis in Rydalmere because it has half the number of students,” Mr Collins said.
“There are economies of scale in operating large schools that are not present in smaller schools.”