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School education

Budget Review 2009-10 Index

Budget 2009 10: Education

School education

Marilyn Harrington

The 2009–10 Budget cements the new Commonwealth financial and policy framework for school education, as forged through the Intergovernmental Agreement on Federal Financial Relations (including the National Education Agreement (NEA) and the National Partnerships for schools), the Building the Education Revolution (BER) initiatives and, for non-government schools, the Schools Assistance Act 2008.

As a result of new indexation arrangements and increased funding for government primary schools under the NEA, the National Partnerships and the BER initiatives, in 2009–10, Commonwealth funding for government schools is set to exceed that for non-government schools, with government schools receiving 57.7 per cent of Commonwealth funding. However, by 2011–12, the balance of funding between the two school sectors is projected to return to its usual pattern, with non-government schools receiving the majority of Commonwealth funding once short-term initiatives such as the BER expire.[1] One mitigating factor may be the promised review of the socio-economic status (SES) funding system for non-government schools.[2]

It is difficult to reconcile the school education estimates in the budget papers, given these changes. The school education estimated expenses offered in Table 2.51 of Budget Paper No. 3 do not readily tally with the separate line items in Table 7 of Statement 6 in Budget Paper No. 1.[3] For instance, it is not clear exactly what is included in the government schools line item in Budget Paper No. 1 other than the National Specific Purpose Payment for government schools ($3.3 billion) and the National Partnerships (including the Early Childhood Education National Partnership). It seemingly does not include the BER initiatives which are provided in a separate line item under ‘School education – specific funding’.[4] It also would appear that all the National Partnerships money has been attributed to the government school sector, which is correct in one sense given that all the money will be paid to state and territory governments. However, non-government schools will also have access to these funds through agreements with state and territory governments.

There are some new budget measures relating to school education. These measures include the abolition of the remnant National Projects component of the Teacher Quality Program (amounting to a saving of $32.3 million over four years). This component has been overtaken by the Improving Teacher Quality National Partnership.[5] Another measure is the provision of $50 million in 2011–12 for reward payments for states that meet Year 12 or equivalent attainment rates as agreed through the Youth Attainment and Transitions National Partnership. Through this National Partnership, the Commonwealth will contribute $644 million over five years to improve young people’s education and training outcomes.[6] The Australian Education Union’s criticism that the Budget fails to provide adequately for this new Commonwealth-State initiative may be premature given that the details are still being finalised.[7]

Given the recent initiatives in school education, school sector interest groups were not expecting any further major announcements in the Budget. However, that is not to say that there are not other areas where the school sector wishes to see further investment. Chief amongst these is additional funding for students with disabilities, the subject of a lengthy lobbying effort by both the government and non-government school sectors.[8]

[1].    Australian Government, Budget strategy and outlook: budget paper no. 1: 2009–10, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, 2009, p. 6-18, viewed 18 May 2009,

[2].    A Patty, ‘Rudd to review school funding’, The Sydney morning herald, 12 February 2008, p. 2, viewed 18 May 2009,;query=Id%3A%22media%2Fpressclp%2FTMMP6%22

[3].    Australian Government, Australia’s federal relations: budget paper no. 3: 2009–10, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, 2009, p. 53, viewed 18 May 2009,; and Budget strategy and outlook: budget paper no. 1: 2009–10.

[4].    Budget strategy and outlook: budget paper no. 1: 2009–10, pp. 6-18–6-20.

[5].    Australian Government, Budget measures: budget paper no. 2: 2009–10, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, 2009, p. 180, viewed 18 May 2009,

[6].    For further information, see Council of Australian Governments (COAG), ‘Council of Australian Governments’ meeting 30 April 2009’, COAG website, viewed 18 May 2009,

[7].    Australian Education Union, Federal Budget fails to deliver adequate education funding measures, media release, 12 May 2009, viewed 18 May 2009,; Budget measures: budget paper no. 2: 2009–10, p. 177.

[8].    M Moscaritolo, ‘Investing in knowledge’, Adelaide advertiser, 12 May 2009, p. 30, viewed 18 May 2009,;query=Id%3A%22media%2Fpressclp%2FITIT6%22

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