Public schools get $3.5b less than original Gonski plan intended

But if the four per cent loophole had not been introduced, NSW’s contribution would actually be 67.3 per cent.

New federal government figures obtained from Senate estimate hearings show that deal will save NSW $3.56 billion over the five-year life of the agreement. The total amount saved by the states over five years will be more than $11 billion.

Adam Rorris, an education economist and Manager of the National Schools Resourcing Taskforce, said the SRS was designed to cover school-level actual spending, not nominal costs such as depreciation. “It’s a sleight of hand, here,” he said. “How can you just take four per cent off for notional costs?

“I don’t think public school parents understand what happened.

“I don’t think a lot of teachers and commentators understand the injustice of applying a capital depreciation tax that is out of scope of what was considered when the schooling resource standard was set. [Comparing funding before and after the deal] is actually mixing apples and oranges.”

Mr Rorris said the deal also applied only to public, and not private schools’ SRS, even though the NSW Education Standards Authority’s work also covers the non-government sector. If the deal had applied to the private sector, “[they] would have, quite rightly, had a fit,” he said.

After the deal was revealed by the Herald in 2018, federal Labor described it as an accounting trick that allowed states to inflate the amount of money they were spending on public education, when they were actually just moving existing spending into a different budget column.

On Friday, Labor’s education spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek said; “Labor remains concerned about this, and in government, it’s something we would deal with in future school funding agreements.” A federal election is due by May 2022, and the bi-lateral funding agreements expire in 2023.

NSW Teachers Federation President Angelo Gavrielatos said NSW public school students were being short-changed. The federation, which is campaigning for better wages and conditions for teachers ahead of award negotiations, is calling for the loophole to be closed and the additional funding committed to schools.

“There is a $600 million shortfall in the money they are spending on schooling,” Mr Gavrielatos said. “Rather than short-changing public school students, this money must be immediately translated into educational programs.”

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However, Ms Mitchell said the NSW government’s school funding was already student-focused. “Every dollar allocated must be spent on providing the support and services to the students it was intended for.”

Geoff Newcombe, the head of the Association of Independent Schools NSW, said governments only part-fund the SRS of non-government schools, which can be as little as 20 per cent of the government funding a public school in the same suburb receives.

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