It is important and sensitive Funding to estimate how much parents are able to afford for their children’s education. Government funding is much lower for non-governmental schools that have well-off parents. The school’s socio-economic score or SES is one element of the way government estimates it. This was review recently by the National School Resourcing Board, (NSRB), which was establish by Australia’s Gonski 2.0 funding legislation.
The NSRB recommend that a direct measure based upon pre-tax income be use to determine how much non-governmental school families can contribute towards school fees. This in contrast to the current method, which is base primarily on where families live. This board demonstrate how smartly existing data can be use without compromising privacy and forcing schools to collect tax file numbers from parents.
This is why it should win, despite the opposition of some Catholic education leaders and the assertion from the peak body representing independent schools that the current method is acceptable.
How Funding Works Today
Both the Labor and Coalition Gonski versions two components that make up the funding target for each school. Base funding, Amount for each student. It is a sum that parents are able to afford. This also known as their capacity for contribution. Loadings based on needs: An additional amount for students with higher need, regardless of parents’ ability to contribute.
Most non-governmental schools’ government funding depends on the amount of their per-student base funding. The school’s SES score determines the discount. Schools with wealthy parents receive higher base funding per student and have higher SES scores. With lower SES scores are more financially secure and get more. Schools with lower income parents receive less. The average SES score for a school is 100. 97% of the scores are between 85-125.
The SES scores are calculate every five year using census data on the average income, education, and occupation levels in each area. This was the most efficient approach at the time. However, not all families live in the same area. It would be more accurate to determine family wealth or income directly.
This chart shows that accuracy in the SES score is crucial. Even small changes can make a big difference. A single point reduction in the SES score of a school with moderately high income would result in an increase of A$300 per student each year in government funding.
The total Catholic funding in 2018 would increase by approximately A$90 million if every Catholic school had a lower SES score. This is a 1% increase over current government funding. A one-point increase in the SES score for every independent school would result in a reduction of their aggregate government funding of around A$100million, or approximately 2%.
It Is Important To Remember The Past Funding
The contentious nature of the SES score methodology can explain by a quirk in history. Schools systems are a part of many non-government schools in Australia. These schools include Catholic schools but also Anglican, Lutheran, or other religious schools. These schools receive funding from the government in one lump sum and then distribute it according to their needs.
School systems had the option of funding according to the average SES score for all schools. This was known as the system-weight mean. This approach is more common than the linear base funding discount formula in the chart. Systems that use this approach receive more government funding.
This approach was most beneficial to Catholic primary schools with high-SES. They were not funded as high-SES schools and were therefore able to charge significantly lower fees than independent schools that have similarly wealthy parents. This was in keeping with the Catholic belief that primary school fees should be kept low regardless of financial ability.
The Need To Review The SES Score
As part of Gonski 2.0 funding reform, Simon Birmingham, Education Minister, removed the system-weighted mean. The change alone has reduced the projected Australian government funding for Catholic schools by several hundred billion dollars over a decade. This is in addition to an estimated A$90 billion.
Catholic school leaders weren’t happy with the SES score formula. They claimed that it was not only inaccurate, but also biased against Catholic schools. The Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission was captivated by the Catholic advocacy in Victoria’s recent Batman By-election.
High SES Catholic schools suffered the most, precisely because they were most affected by the old model’s distortions. Media scare stories regarding fee increases were focused on the parish primary schools in leafy suburbs and not the battlers in inner-suburban Catholic schools. Many low-SES Catholic schools will be better off under Gonski 2.0.