Media Releases | Feb 23, 2024

Unions receive an “F” for school funding mathematics

Catholic Schools NSW has today couriered calculators* to the offices of the Australian Education Union and the NSW Teachers’ Federation after the massive failure of arithmetic in today’s reports on capital expenditure in Australian schools.

Claims from the unions are embarrassingly wrong and are the result of either poor scholarship or deliberately misleading propaganda – perhaps both. Here are the facts on school funding:

  • The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) reports. By comparison, capital funding from the NSW and Commonwealth Governments for non-government schools in NSW reached a total of $83 million in 2021 and $74 million in 2020.
  • The Australian Education Union claims governments’ spent only $175.4m on capital works in a single year for half of the nation’s government schools (3,372). This figure is grossly inaccurate, and would mean state and Commonwealth governments have distributed only 3% of capital funds to 50% of government schools, with 97% to the remaining half of government schools in Australia.
  • It is wrong and misleading to compare the top-funded non-government schools with the bottom-funded government schools. However, a like-for-like comparison reveals the top five government schools in NSW and Victoria had a total capital expenditure of $248.2m in 2021, $72.6m more than the amount quoted for the top five non-government schools in the same year.
  • The claim that the Commonwealth Government helped private schools “divert” $2.5 billion is false. This term is deliberately used to imply that this money is being misused. The reality is that non-government school parents pay for 80-90% of capital works in non-government schools, and all funds are heavily scrutinised, audited and acquitted in accordance with legislation.

The CEO of Catholic Schools NSW, Dallas McInerney, said it was a shame, but unsurprising, that union members were again misled on funding and that members deserved better.

“It is telling and disappointing to see the Unions fight endless self-interested funding wars rather than focus on improving student’s results. Union members deserve better value for their dues than false and misleading advocacy. These union officials would be at the bottom of the class for this effort.”

“Hardworking parents of non-government school students contribute to 80-90% of capital works, but this fact is conveniently omitted.”

“The NSW Catholic school sector wants all school sectors to receive appropriate funding without the constant funding myths and misinformation peddled by the Unions. Catholic Schools NSW is happy to host a sit-down lesson with the Unions and explain how school funding works.”

*Calculators are solar panelled noting the union’s commitment to renewable energy.

Catholic Schools NSW represents the state’s 592 Catholic schools and their 268,000 students.




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