The Australian Government (the Commonwealth) provides recurrent funding for every student enrolled at a school. Over 2018 to 2029, recurrent funding for schools will total $323.9 billion. This includes $126.9 billion to government schools, $109.7 billion to Catholic schools and $87.2 billion to independent schools.
Over this period, funding will increase by 91.9 per cent (from a 2017 base) and funding for each student is projected to increase on average by 4.7 per cent every year.
The amount of recurrent funding provided by the Australian Government is available in various reports. To see those reports, go to the reports on school funding page.
Australian Government recurrent funding arrangements
The Department of Education calculates a school’s Commonwealth recurrent funding entitlement each year in accordance with the Australian Education Act 2013.
A key element of the recurrent funding arrangements - the Schooling Resource Standard – is an estimate of how much total public funding a school needs to meet its students’ educational needs. To find out more about the Schooling Resource Standard, see the Schooling Resource Standard.
These arrangements are reviewed from time to time by the National School Resourcing Board.
Note: Transitional funding arrangements can exist for new schools. Information about new schools is provided at: What is a new school?
Commonwealth recurrent funding is transitioning to the target Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) shares
Under the recurrent funding arrangements, the Commonwealth pays a prescribed percentage of each school’s Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) each year. This percentage is known as the Commonwealth SRS share.
These Commonwealth SRS shares reflect the established responsibilities for school funding. State and territory governments provide most of the public recurrent funding for government schools. The Australian Government provides most of the public recurrent funding for non‑government schools.
Most schools are attracting increased funding under the SRS funding arrangements. The Commonwealth SRS shares are transitioning each year from 2017 funding levels to the Commonwealth target SRS shares, which are:
- 20% of each school’s SRS for government schools (an increase from the national average of 17.5% in 2018)
- 80% of each school’s SRS for non-government schools (an increase from the national average of 77.0% in 2018).
In 2023, all schools attract Commonwealth recurrent funding calculated using, at a minimum, the Commonwealth target SRS share for their sector.
Schools funded above the target SRS share for their sector – due to their funding levels under previous funding arrangements – will be smoothly transitioned to the target share by 2027 (for government schools) and 2029 (for non-government schools).
A small number of non-government schools are expected to have their recurrent funding reduced as they transition to the SRS target share. There are transition funding arrangements in place to help these non-government schools to adjust to their new funding levels in a manageable way.
Recurrent funding is paid to approved authorities
The Australian Government pays recurrent funding to each school’s approved authority. Approved authorities are approved by the Minister under the Australian Education Act 2013. For government schools, the approved authority is the relevant state or territory government. For non-government schools, the approved authority is the body corporate approved by the Minister for the school.
An approved authority can be responsible for one or more schools.
An approved authority for more than one school can redistribute the Commonwealth recurrent funding it receives to its schools using its own needs-based funding arrangement. This means approved authorities can pool their funding from all sources – government and private – to best meet the needs of their students.
Approved authorities that redistribute their recurrent funding are known as approved system authorities. They must make their needs-based funding arrangements publicly available and transparent. To find out more about these arrangements, see How is Australian Government funding for schools distributed according to need?
What recurrent funding can be used for
Recurrent funding must be used to provide school education at a school. Funding can be used for a school’s day-to-day operations, including for teacher and other staff salaries, professional development, development of teaching materials, building maintenance, purchasing capital equipment for the school and other general operating expenses.
Government schools, special schools, special assistance schools, majority Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander schools and sole provider schools can also use recurrent funding for capital purposes.
These and other requirements about the use of recurrent funding are set out in the Australian Education Regulation 2013.
How recurrent funding supports students within each school
The Department calculates a school’s Commonwealth recurrent funding entitlement based on the characteristics of students enrolled at each school and the schools themselves. Schools are not required to spend specific amounts of their recurrent funding on individual students. Instead, schools are expected to prioritise their spending to meet the educational needs of all their students.
This approach recognises schools are best placed to understand the individual needs of students and provides schools flexibility to respond to policy changes occurring as part of the national school reform agenda.
The National School Resourcing Board provides oversight of the SRS funding model
The National School Resourcing Board provides independent oversight of the Schooling Resource Standard funding model. Its responsibilities include:
- Reviewing parts of the funding model
- Assessing the compliance of states, territories and other approved authorities with their obligations under the Act.