Teacher’s Union calls on State and Federal governments to reduce gap between public and private schools capital funding

Pat Byrne.
Pat Byrne.

EDUCATIONAL inequity among public and private schools in capital project funding needs to be reduced so public students are not missing out, according to the State School Teacher’s Union of WA (SSTUWA).

The Federal Government established a $300 million fund last year, which has seen $20 million in capital funds going towards WA private schools.

As part of the Government’s Schooling Resource Standard (SRS), public schools will receive 20 per cent and private schools will get 80 per cent by 2023.

Union president Pat Byrne said the funds were only offered to private schools to upgrade school facilities that were “unfair” and “not needs-based”.

“This is part of the Australian Education Union national campaign for fair funding for public schools,” she said.

“It is supposed to be for more needy private schools but what we have seen in the data is that there are some quite wealthy schools that are receiving money for these projects.

“We had about $20 million in capital works funding that has been allocated to private schools in WA and we are saying that to have such a fund not be made available to the majority of our students who attend public schools is unfair.

“I think there has to be a funding program that addresses the schools that are in the most needy communities and have the most needy students.”

Ms Byrne said some private schools have built seminar rooms, food studios and sporting complexes by receiving more than 100 per cent of their SRS while some male students in public schools had to use female showers.

“The maintenance backlog alone is in the vicinity of about $160 million and that just continues to grow and the longer that gets put off, the worse that situation gets and the situation is compounded by a failure,” she said.

WA public schools have fastest rate of funding growth: Federal Education Minister

Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan said the Federal Government had increased funding to government schools by 78.5 per cent compared to 7.7 per cent by states and territories, from 2006-07 to 2015-16.

“Under the Government’s schools funding plan, WA gets the fastest rate of funding growth for their government schools of any state or territory, delivering significantly more funding than Labor promised Western Australia,” he said.

“Building and maintaining State Government schools has always been the primary responsibility of state governments.

“State and territory governments can spend the record Commonwealth funding they receive on students or on school buildings.

“The Capital Grants Program has eligibility criteria and a thorough selection process in place to ensure schools do not take advantage of the scheme.”

Independent Education Union of WA secretary Angela Briant said the SSTU was correct in expecting WA government schools be adequately funded for both recurrent funding and works.

“The WA Labor government is investing $460 million in government schools this year for capital works , as they should, its their responsibility,” she said.

“The Federal Government has provided $30 million to Western Australian non-government schools for capital works this year.

“Schools put their case and their need so that students in a widely diverse range of schools upgrade their facilities so that their students work and learn in quality surroundings.”

WA Education and Training Minister Sue Ellery has been contacted for comment.

Catholic and Independent schools over the 1000 ICSEA that received 2018 Capital Grant Funding:

School Name Suburb Block Grant Authority Grant ICSEA (Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage)

1. ALTA-1 College WANGARA WA Independent $1,000,000 Not listed
2. Beechboro Christian School BEECHBORO WA Independent $245,000 1087
3. Carey Baptist College – Forrestdale FORRESTDALE WA Independent $710,000 Not listed
4. Child Side School BOYANUP WA Independent $300,000 1077
5. Emmanuel Christian Community School GIRRAWHEEN WA Independent $1,100,000 1003
6. Hammond Park Catholic Primary School HAMMOND PARK WA Catholic $800,013 1082
7. Holy Cross College ELLENBROOK WA Catholic $300,134 1040
8. Langford Islamic College LANGFORD WA Independent $900,000 Not listed
9. Margaret River Independent School FOREST GROVE WA Independent $100,000 1055
10. Mother Teresa Catholic College BALDIVIS WA Catholic $1,903,542 1054
11. Our Lady of Grace School NORTH BEACH WA Catholic $299,425 1120
12. Rehoboth Christian College KENWICK WA Independent $1,000,000 1101
13. Salvado Catholic College BYFORD WA Catholic $1,700,244 1035
14. SMYL Community College ROCKINGHAM WA Independent $225,000 Not listed
15. St Columba’s School BAYSWATER WA Catholic $100,000 1122
16. St James Anglican School ALKIMOS WA Independent $1,200,000 1072
17. St John Bosco College PIARA WATERS WA Catholic $4,050,710 1061
18. The King’s College WELLARD WA Independent $1,100,000 1024
19. Yallingup Steiner School YALLINGUP WA Independent $80,000 1070
Catholic and Independent schools below the 1000 ICSEA that received 2018 Capital Grant Funding:
School Name Suburb Block Grant Authority Grant ICSEA
20. Atlantis Beach Baptist College TWO ROCKS WA Independent $331,000 984
21. Fairbridge College PINJARRA WA Independent $225,000 914
22. Fremantle Christian College HAMILTON HILL WA Independent $750,000 988
23. Purnululu Aboriginal Community Independent School PURNULULU NATIONAL PARK WA Independent $275,000 611
24. St Joseph’s School WYNDHAM WA Catholic $2,362,717 770