Australian Government funding for schools

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Australian Government funding for schools

Posted 18/11/2010 by Marilyn Harrington

A recently published Background Note from the Parliamentary Library shows that Australian Government funding for schools will increase in real terms (in 2008–09 dollars) from $6.9 billion in 1999–00 to $11.5 billion in 2011–12. This means that funding for government schools will increase from $2.8 billion to $4.4 billion and, for non-government schools, from $4.2 billion to $7.1 billion.
Usually, most of the funding increases for schools are the result of indexation. The remainder is from increases in student numbers and new money as the result of government policy initiatives. However, the Building the Economic Revolution (BER) economic stimulus measures, (amounting to $16.2 billion), has resulted in a considerable injection of new funds.
The Australian Government provides most of its funding for schools to non-government schools (and state and territory governments provide most of their funding to government schools). In 2011–12, the government school share of Australian Government funding will be an estimated 38.4 per cent, compared to 39.8 per cent in 1999–00. From 2000–01 to 2004–05, government schools’ proportionate share declined significantly, reaching its lowest level (32.5 per cent) in 2004–05 before starting to rise again. This decline coincided with, first, the introduction of the Socioeconomic Status (SES) system of general recurrent funding for non-government schools in 2001; and, second, the movement of Catholic systemic schools into the SES system in 2005.
The BER has significantly changed the historic pattern of Australian Government funding for government and non-government schools. About two-thirds of total BER funds will be provided to government schools. As a result, in 2009–10, government schools received 51.0 per cent of the Australian Government's funding for schools. In 2011–12, when the BER stimulus spending is almost over (an estimated $496 million remains to be spent in that year), the funding share reverts to its usual pattern.
The Background Note explains Australian Government funding for schools by answering some commonly asked questions. In doing this, it provides: a brief history of the Australian Government’s funding for schools, explains the system of Australian Government funding for schools, and examines expenditure trends.
See: M Harrington, Australian Government funding for schools explained, Background note, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2010.
Image source: 'Hindsight', Minnesota 2020 blog,

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