What is the Quality Schools package and what does it mean for my school?

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The Australian Government is delivering record and growing funding for schools

On 23 June 2017, amendments to the Australian Education Act 2013 (the Act) successfully passed through the Federal Parliament to give effect to the Australian Government’s Quality Schools package.

The Australian Government is delivering a record $314.2 billion in total school recurrent funding from 2018 to 2029. Recurrent funding for schools will grow from a record $17.5 billion in 2017 to an estimated $32.5 billion in 2029.

Funding will grow faster than broader economic growth, with total Australian Government recurrent funding growing at 85.3 per cent to 2029 and funding per student growing at an average of 4.2 per cent each year (from a 2017 base).

At the national level, funding per student for all sectors will continue to increase in real terms.

While maintaining the historic role of the Australian Government as the majority funder of non-government schools, the new needs-based funding model will see the Australian Government continue to increase its share of funding for government schools. From 2018 to 2029:

  • on average, funding for government schools will grow by 97.4 per cent (from a 2017 base), with total Commonwealth recurrent funding for government schools of $127.8 billion;
  • on average, funding for non-government schools will grow by 77.6 per cent (from a 2017 base), with total Commonwealth recurrent funding for non-government schools of $186.4 billion.

This funding growth means schools will be able to continue and expand successful programs such as specialist teachers or targeted interventions for children falling behind.

Funding will be consistent, transparent, and needs-based

For the first time, Australian Government school funding will be truly needs-based. Australian Government funding is based on the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) which provides a base amount per student and additional funding to support disadvantaged schools and facilitate achievement of priority cohorts as recommended by Mr David Gonski AC’s 2011 Review of Funding for Schooling. Students with the same need within the same sector will attract the same support from the Commonwealth, regardless of the state where they live. Students with greater needs will attract higher levels of funding from the Commonwealth.

The Commonwealth will contribute a consistent share of the SRS for each school. The Commonwealth's share will increase to 80 per cent of the SRS for non-government schools and 20 per cent for government schools by 2029.

A majority of schools currently are funded below their target Commonwealth share of the SRS and will transition to the target by 2023.

Schools that are currently funded above their target Commonwealth share will transition to it by 2029 at the latest.

States and territories will be required to contribute their share

Alongside the Commonwealth’s increased investment, state and territory governments are also required to deliver their share of total public funding. Further information about state funding contribution requirements is available at: How are schools funded in Australia.

Funding is indexed each year

To give education authorities certainty, the Government is honouring its 2016 Budget commitment to grow the SRS at 3.56 per cent from 2018 to 2020, which is higher than real cost growth.

From 2021, the SRS will grow at whichever is the higher:

  • three per cent, or
  • a rate derived of 75 per cent Wage Price Index and 25 per cent Consumer Price Index.

Accountability and transparency will be strengthened

The Government has established the National School Resourcing Board to provide greater independent oversight of funding arrangements, in line with the recommendations of the 2011 Review of Funding for Schooling.

The Board will review elements of the funding model under the Act and the Australian Education Regulation 2013 (the Regulation), and assess compliance of approved authorities with the requirements of the Act.

The Board’s first priority was to undertake a review of the socio-economic status (SES) score methodology and current capacity to contribute arrangements for non-government schools. The Board presented their report in June 2018. The Board’s work includes the annual review of state and territory funding contributions under section 22A of the Act, future examination of approved authorities’ compliance with requirements under section 78 of the Act and the SRS indexation arrangements.

The Minister for Education will consult with states via the Council of Australian Governments’ Education Council, and with national representative bodies for Catholic systemic schools and independent schools, on the work of the Board.

Funding is tied to reforms

From 2018, the Australian Government is delivering a funding model which is simple, transparent and based on need which will tie funding to reforms that will boost education outcomes.

Working together, all Australian governments developed the National School Reform Agreement that came into effect from 1 January 2019. The National Agreement is a joint commitment between the Commonwealth and the states and territories to lift student outcomes across Australian schools. The overarching aim of the National Agreement is that Australian schooling provides a high quality and equitable education for all students.

The National Agreement has been informed by the findings and recommendations of the Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools, the Independent Review of Regional, Rural and Remote Education and the Optimising STEM Industry-School Partnerships report of the STEM Partnerships Forum.

The National Agreement sets out eight national policy initiatives in areas where national collaboration will have the greatest impact.

Direct Measure of Income of Capacity to Contribute

The Government strongly supports the right of parents to choose the best school for their child and provides funding for each child, regardless of the school system their parents choose. Where parents choose non-government schools, taxpayer funding is discounted by the school community’s capacity to contribute.

Prior to 2020, capacity to contribute was based on the average SES of the communities where the students of the school live. From 2020, the new Direct Measure of Income (DMI) will be used to determine capacity to contribute. The DMI is based on the income of parents and guardians of a school’s community. This is based on the findings of the National School Resourcing Board and ensures the measure is the fairest, most accurate and transparent available.

Over 2020 to 2021, to support a smooth change from current arrangements to the DMI, schools will receive the financial benefit of the 2011 Census SES score, 2016 Census SES score or the DMI. The DMI will apply to all schools by 2022. The department will advise approved authorities of whether a school would financially benefit from the use of DMI arrangements in 2020, 2021 or 2022. This, and other arrangements will provide schools with time to plan as change is gradually introduced over time.

This new more targeted measure, in combination with the broader Quality Schools package, is anticipated to deliver record funding levels.

National average Australian Government recurrent funding

  Avg. annual per student increase 2018-2029 (from 2017 base) 2018 per student funding ($) 2029 per student funding ($) 2018-2029 per student increases (from 2017 base) ($) Avg. 2018 CW share of needs based funding
Government 4.8% $2,914 $4,762 $2,039 17.5%
Catholic 3.8% $9,272 $13,852 $4,997 78.6%
Independent 3.7% $7,743 $11,400 $4,070 74.9%

Further details on the impact for each state and territory is detailed in: How much Australian Government funding is provided to schools in each state and territory?