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Quarter more income for independent school pupils

Date

Josephine Tovey, Amy McNeilage

<i>Illustration: Rocco Fazzari</i>

Illustration: Rocco Fazzari

The average income per child in an independent school in Australia is more than 25 per cent higher than their public school counterparts and nearly 40 per cent higher than those in the Catholic system, new data shows.

The average net income for a student in an independent school was $15,182 in 2011, the most recent year available, surpassing the average $12,034 that is received per child in the government sector and $11,079 that is received per child in the Catholic sector.

The latest financial data and NAPLAN results were made public on the MySchool website on Wednesday, the fourth year the information has been published.

The national average net recurrent income per student across sectors in 2011, which includes public funding, fees and other contributions, was $12,337, up 4.9 per cent on the 2010 figure of $11,757.

The national average figures, provided by the government, did not include a breakdown of what percentage of the funding came from government sources or fees.

School-by-school breakdowns are available on the MySchool website.

For example, independent girls school SCEGGS Darlinghurst had a net recurrent income per student of $27,025 in 2011. The majority of that funding, $24,396, came from parent fees and contributions, while there was $3018 in contributions from state and federal governments, before deductions.

Castle Hill High School, a public school in the north west, had a net recurrent income of $10,496 a student, of which $9704 came from governments, before deductions.

President of the Australian Education Union Angelo Gavrielatos said the Gonski review had highlighted the need for a more equitable funding system.

''The case for funding reform has been made, the urgency has been established,'' he said.

Mr Gavrielatos said the higher proportion of public funding received by public schools reflected the fact they did the ''heavy lifting'' when it came to educating poorer students, indigenous students and newly arrived migrant students, and others who required extra assistance.

''The government school figure reflects the higher cost of education provision and maintenance to schools for low SES students, students with disability and those living in remote and isolated settings,'' he said.

Sydney's other most well-funded schools include Sydney Grammar School, which had a net income of $29,681 a student, St Joseph's College at Hunters Hill, which received $28,646 a student and PLC Sydney, which received $26,617 a student.

In 2011, Ascham School at Edgecliff had a net income of more than $30 million - about $30,000 a student. The school received almost $3 million in state and federal government funding, while more than $25 million came from school fees and parent contributions.

The NSW Association of Independent Schools declined to comment.

Chairwoman of the National Catholic Education Commission Therese Temby said Catholic schools operated ''effectively and efficiently''.

Ms Temby said an income per student that was about 9 per cent or 10 per cent lower than the government system was consistent with previous years.

''In terms of the school funding debate at the moment we really are relying on the government being able to deliver on its promise to deliver a funding increase for all schools,'' she said.

''We certainly also wouldn't want the school funding rules and regulations to change too drastically.''

The MySchool website has received about 5 million hits since it was launched in 2010.

School Education Minister Peter Garrett said while the MySchool data showed improvement in many areas, there were still big gaps in performance between lower socio-economic students and their well-off peers.

The net income figures represent the gross income, minus deductions, which are generally for capital expenditure.

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135 comments

  • Mr Gavrielatos have you ever wondered why parents pay those high fees at schools like Sydney Grammar School, it is because they want a decent education for their kids and decent teachers.
    Instead of whingeing all the time why don't you get rid of the teachers who are not doing the job.

    Commenter
    thepres
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    March 14, 2013, 8:34AM
    • You're kidding aren't you. The parents aren't paying for better education outcomes, otherwise they would send their kids to selective government high schools.

      They pay for prestige, old school ties and the like. Nothing more.

      Commenter
      ST
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      March 14, 2013, 9:24AM
    • Well said "thepres", you have succinctly stated the thinking of Tony Abbott, Christopher Pyne and the LNP.

      Commenter
      howardp
      Location
      Yass
      Date and time
      March 14, 2013, 9:39AM
    • @thepres, I live in the eastern suburbs of sydney where more kids go to private schools than probably anywhere else in the country. I cannot believe the ridiculous waste of money. The local high schools are good. Very good. No they don't have $20 million gyms and libraries, but they have good teachers and wonderful students. They teach the kids well. I hate my daughter going to private school parties because they are full of unsupervised screw ups who I would prefer my kids don't hang out with.
      When they compete against each other in Rock Eisteddfod or Theatresports, public schools frequently beat private schools that have huge funding resources, simply because the public school kids are just as smart, just as talented and their teachers are just as good.
      And they all end up in public universities (except the dim private school kids whose parents have to pay for them to go to Bond). Universities have none of the luxurious facilities of private schools. At uni, like at public schools, it is real education - the teacher, the student, and a library. There are no $4 million theatres for kids who aren't even any good at drama, or $10 million sporting facilities for kids who are never going to be sports people. Private schools are a completely unrealistic bubble that provide students with excessive facilities that no child actually needs.

      Commenter
      Sally
      Date and time
      March 14, 2013, 9:48AM
    • I sent my sons to an academic private school (Sydney Grammar) because I wanted them to have a first rate but balanced educational experience. Both boys received offers to go to James Ruse in the selective school examinations (which was the backup choice if they failed admission to Grammar).

      The quality of their education, the quality of their peers and the way I saw them developing into young gentlemen was extremely satisfying. My oldest has entered law school and my youngest has entered medical school. I feel like it was money well spent and I am extremely grateful that there are such options available for inclined parents.

      I might add that a great many of my juniors at work hale from many of sydney's elite selective schools. Whilst being extremely bright, I still feel that they tend to be more insular/introverted and purely academic people which is not the environment I wanted for my children.

      Commenter
      Dr K
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      March 14, 2013, 9:48AM
    • Yet public schools such as North Sydney Boys or Girls are ranked higher than Sydney Grammar. How does that fit into your theory?

      Commenter
      Bob Brown
      Date and time
      March 14, 2013, 10:03AM
    • But my step-son's public school NAPLAN results bettered that of a nearby Grammar school with twice the per-student funding ($8000 vs $16000). His individual scores in some categories were higher than the highest achieved at the Grammar school. My aneathestist neighbour sends his kids to another public school which performed even better than the Grammar school. So go figure.

      Commenter
      Ray
      Location
      Hunter Valley
      Date and time
      March 14, 2013, 11:38AM
    • @Sally - As a former Bond Uni student (on an academic scholarship) I can say that your flippant comment about Bond being just for rich people to send their underperforming children is a myth. The vast majority of students are hard working and deserve their qualifications. I would take Bond over the government run institutions in the area every time and I have experience of a number of them as my brother did a double degree at UQ and I also attended QUT after Bond. My Bond education was far superior to both.

      Commenter
      Mikka
      Date and time
      March 14, 2013, 11:43AM
    • I agree with you and also Dr K. It is not just who finishes first as James Ruse always does. It is about turning these kids into well rounded adults. My two children attended an independent school from preschool and absolutely loved going there. Then, due to some events beyond our control that greatly affected us being able to afford to send them there, they had to leave and go into the public system, the older one going into Year 10 and the younger into Year 7. Both went from kids that were up, dressed and begging to go at 7.00am to kids that had to literally be dragged out of bed and forced to go, even to the point that I had to take days off without pay to make sure they went. They went backwards big time academically. The older one just scraped through the HSC (but not enough to go to Uni) and the younger has just finished Year 10. He now hates school so much that he refused to go back and do his HSC. All of this in 4 years. This public school said it was one of the best in NSW, wow, if that was one of the best, I would hate to see the worst. My two had some (not all) very poor teachers (and teaching). I regret every day our change in circumstances, not for us, but for our two children who have lost out in the biggest way. If we could have afforded it, I know which education system I would choose every time and I wouldn't ever hesitate in telling anyone who asked me. Sure there are some good public schools out there, just not sure where they are.

      Commenter
      Jorbren
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      March 14, 2013, 11:44AM
    • @BobBrown And have you looked at the types of kids who attend and graduate from such selective schools? Hardly a well-balanced lifestyle. Schools like Sydney Grammar can provide the best of both worlds.

      Commenter
      Milkman
      Date and time
      March 14, 2013, 11:58AM

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