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Article Title

Easy as pie? It's time we fixed our school funding system

Abstract

Public funding to non-government schools is a 'highly political exercise', according to a report from the Australian Council for Educational Research. Private schools will receive $2.7 billion in overpayments over the next four years under the current Commonwealth funding system - and the Commonwealth government is determined to keep its promise to maintain the funding model it inherited from the previous government, despite revelations that half of Australia's 2,700 non-government schools receive more funding than they should. Commonwealth Education Minister Julia Gillard has proposed that disadvantaged public schools be identified and targeted for extra funding, but critics doubt whether this will address fundamental problems with the existing system. How has such a funding model come to exist - and, with calls for reform from all quarters, how can a more equitable model be applied? According to a recent policy paper, 'Australia's School Funding System', by Dr Andrew Dowling of ACER, the answer lies in greater consistency and transparency of process, and greater co-operation between state and Commonwealth governments, and between government and non-government sectors. Dowling argues that the current model of school funding must be dropped in favour of a national and transparent model based on comprehensible measures of need applying equally across the sectors. The development of such a model will not be easy, but only when the funding system is consistent and transparent will governments, schools and society be able to evaluate whether or not it is fair. [Author abstract, ed]

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