School funding for regional and remote schools continues to grow
The Australian Government is growing its record level of recurrent funding for schools from $17.5 billion in 2017 to an estimated $32.5 billion in 2029.
The Government is investing an estimated $314.2 billion for school recurrent funding from 2018 to 2029. Of this, an estimated $70.6 billion is benefitting students in regional and remote schools.
Total Commonwealth funding for students in regional and remote Australia is growing from $4.4 billion in 2018 to an estimated $7.2 billion in 2029— this is an increase of 64.7 per cent. On average, per student funding for students in regional and remote areas will grow by 3.9 per cent per year over the same period.
The location loading recognises the higher cost of schooling in regional and remote Australia
The Australian Government recognises that it generally costs more to educate students going to school in regional and remote areas than it does for students in city-based schools. This is why extra funding—called a location loading—is provided for students going to schools in regional or remote areas.
The location loading is based on a school’s Accessibility/Remoteness Index of Australia (ARIA) score, a measure of the remoteness or accessibility of every location in Australia. Under the Quality Schools funding arrangements, the location loading in 2020 is expected to benefit approximately 749,527 students.
In addition to this loading, regional and remote students attract Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) base funding to their school or system and their school may also attract funding from other loadings depending on the student’s or their school’s circumstances.
The National School Resourcing Board is undertaking a review of funding for regional and remote schools and students provided under the SRS. The review will focus on the total level of funding provided to regional and remote schools and make recommendations on improvements to loading settings. The Board is expected to report to the Australian Government by May 2021.
Other financial support for regional and remote students
The Government works with all states and territories to ensure that students, regardless of where they live, have access to high quality education and experience the same educational opportunities as other students.
The Government provided $20 million in 2019-20 for drought affected schools and students through the Special Circumstances Funding for non-government schools. This funding supports schools and families facing financial hardship due to ongoing drought conditions. The intent is to ensure that students continue to access education during emergencies, and in the case of the drought, particularly students from rural and remote areas. The program funds schools to provide fee relief and other services. Further information can be found at keeping kids from drought affected areas in childcare and schools.
Other supports to boost education in regional and remote Australian schools
The Government has committed $21.2 million to establish the High Achieving Teachers Program to support the recruitment of high achievers into teaching, specifically in regional, rural and low socio-economic schools.
The Government has also recently committed an additional $15 million for Teach for Australia to train more high achieving teachers and high quality school leaders in rural, remote or disadvantaged schools. This includes $7.5 million under the Future Leaders Program (FLP). Teach For Australia (TFA) will design and implement a pilot program to give aspiring leaders in regional, rural and remote schools the skills to meet the specific leadership challenges in their schools. This will lift the quality of leadership in regional, rural and remote schools as well as help program participants to fill higher leadership positions in the future, including school principals. The pilot will operate for two years in 2021–22, with development of the program and recruitment of participants to take place in 2020. More information can be found at www.education.gov.au/quality-teaching.
Under the National School Reform Agreement, all Australian governments are committed to reviewing teacher workforce needs to recruit and retain quality teachers and attract teachers to areas of need. Teachers and schools in regional, rural and remote areas are a particular area of focus. The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) has been undertaking consultation and gathering evidence to develop a national teacher workforce strategy. More information is available at www.aitsl.edu.au/research/national-teacher-workforce-strategy.
AITSL is also undertaking research into best practice approaches to teacher and school leader training, professional development and support for regional, rural and remote settings. AITSL is developing a spotlight publication detailing the challenges and opportunities for teachers in accessing high quality professional learning and this will be available on AITSL’s website from 4 September 2020. Casual and relief teachers may be employed in regional, rural and remote communities. A spotlight publication is also available that focusses on professional learning for casual and relief teachers. These publications can be found at www.aitsl.edu.au/research/spotlight.