The federal education minister has given his strongest indication that some rich schools will lose government money under a new deal he’s working on with the states.
“If some schools under formulas that have been grandfathered for years and years are getting more than their fair share, then we ought to have a look at an adjustment process,” Simon Birmingham told ABC radio on Monday.
He quickly noted that other schools – including some in the private sector – were getting less than their fair share and should have funding boosted.
The comment is sure to be seized upon by Labor, which has sought to create a school funding bogeyman for the government, when its deputy leader Tanya Plibersek fronts media later on Monday to mark the first day of the new school year.
The previous Labor government ordered the Gonski panel make sure no school lost a single dollar of funding in its new model, although the panel noted that meant inequities with schools in rich areas that had been given special deals under the Howard government.
Senator Birmingham says the 27 school funding deals now in place mean schools in some states will get up to $2,000 more per student than equivalent schools elsewhere.
Federal education department data has shown 150 private schools are getting more money than the per-student standard, with some getting close to three times more.
“I absolutely want a school funding model for the future that is consistent and fair,” Senator Birmingham said on Monday.
The nation’s leaders are expected to sign off on a new funding deal at the next COAG meeting, likely to be in April.
Ms Plibersek labelled the government’s school funding policy “vague and in the never-never”.
She called on the minister to produce a list of schools which would have their funding cut.
“If the federal government is proposing that some schools should have their funding cut more than others, Simon Birmingham should be clear about that,” she told reporters at a Sydney Catholic primary school.