In 2010 A Review of School Funding was commissioned to address a substantial decline in education standards. The review was the first comprehensive rethinking of education funding since the Whitlam government’s Karmel Report in 1973. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development released figures stating that there is a significant gap between the highest and lowest achieving students in Australia (See below).
A significant number of Australian students are not meeting the minimum standards of education and this low performance is heavily linked with low socio-economic and indigenous backgrounds. The majority of students with the lowest socio-economic status (represented by quarters below) are in Government schools.
The panel took in over 7,000 submissions, consulted 71 education groups and visited 39 schools. The government released the report in February 2012. It is the first revision of education funding since 1975.
The Gonski Review recommends that funding should be determined on a per student basis with $5 billion dollars is injected into schools each year, with 75% of that funding going to public schools.This is to be adjusted for schools facing additional costs based on factors such as remoteness and disability care. The report also states that Australia lacks a ‘logical, consistent and publicly transparent’ approach to school funding.
Government expenditure on schooling in Australia is relatively low in comparison to other OECD countries. The OECD estimates that public expenditure on primary, secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education in Australia was 3 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2008, compared to an OECD average of 3.5 per cent of GDP (See below)
The Gillard government recently announced the details of how the reforms were going to be implemented. In April 2013 Julia Gillard announced that the Gonski Review’s recommended reforms to primary and secondary schooling will be taken from funding to the university sector.
All images sourced from OECD Education at a Glance 2011 report, reproduced under Creative Commons License. Find full report here