View From the Hill
School Funding: Can We Ever Have Fair Comment?School funding is such an important issue for parents of independent schools that I like to publish any comment that presents the facts of the matter in a fair and balanced manner. The same cannot be said for some media outlets which present an unfair and even inaccurate view to create division and presumably drive sales from the misplaced concern of readers. There was an article in today’s Sydney Morning Herald which was so unfair and even inaccurate that it deserves an immediate response. The Association of Independent Schools of NSW (AISNSW) is our peak body, representing the interests of parents and schools within the independent sector. This response from the CEO of AIS Dr Geoff Newcombe presents the facts of school funding as they really are and it deserves to be read by all parents.
Fair schools funding is what we have – but not fair reporting
The Association of Independent Schools of NSW (AISNSW) said the article published in today’s Sydney Morning Herald about the government funding of Independent schools was misleading, lacked balance and is clearly designed to create a false impression among readers.
The article, “Sydney’s top private schools getting millions from taxpayers”, quotes the total recurrent funding received by schools from Federal and State governments and deliberately presents the figures in a misleading manner designed to create division.
If the Sydney Morning Herald was interested in presenting a balanced perspective, it would have clearly identified the amount of funding each school received from state and federal governments in 2016 on a per student basis.
This would show that for 2016, in combined state and federal government funding, Turramurra High School received $11,746 per student; Knox Grammar School received $3,287 per student; The Scots College $3,676 per student; and Loreto Kirribilli $8,303 per student.
The article also fails to acknowledge that the 2016 funding figures from the My School website relate to the previous funding arrangements, and not the new arrangements introduced by the Australian Government which commenced this year. This will see funding for many independent schools, including some of those mentioned in the article, transitioning downwards over the next ten years to a lower rate.
In identifying the amount spent by some independent schools on previous and future capital projects, the article omits the fact that these projects are funded entirely from parent contributions and other private sources, at no cost to the taxpayer. These schools do not receive any government funding for these projects.
The omission of this important fact suggests either a deliberate attempt to create division between school sectors and the community with respect to school funding, or simply lazy journalism. The comment that these schools use government recurrent funding to ‘offset’ their capital project costs is simply wrong.
The implication of today’s article, and numerous others published previously by this media outlet, is that children attending non-government schools are somehow undeserving of any taxpayer support for their education simply because of the school their parents have chosen. Yet the fact that 47 per cent of high income families choose a government school for their child, at full cost to the taxpayer, is never questioned.
It is unfortunate that the Sydney Morning Herald continues to wage an ill-conceived war against non-government schools, which educate 35 per cent of all Australian children, by presenting a lop-sided view of school funding that only ever tells part of the story.
Dr Geoff Newcombe
I need to remind all parents that school attendance is both compulsory and necessary for each child’s intellectual and emotional growth. Please note the following in recording any absence for your child:
• Notify reception by 9.30am of absence either via phone, email firstname.lastname@example.org or SchoolStream
• Medical certificate is required for 2 or more days sick leave
• Late arrivals or early departures need to be advised of in writing via email to email@example.com e.g. If late due to medical appointment we require a note/email.
• If travelling during term time you must apply for extended leave – application will be reviewed by Head of School and only granted in special circumstances
• If you are uncertain about attendance or leave contact the administration team firstname.lastname@example.org
I have attached a parent information sheet from the NSW Government about Compulsory School Attendance which has some useful information for parents about attendance HERE.