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PISA2018-2.2 The Cost of Independent Schools

Bonnor and colleagues point out, “If the additional non-government school students had enrolled in the government sector the annual cost to governments over the seven years would have been $460,722,320 rather than the actual cost of $581,207,940. This represents an overspend, by governments, of $120 million each year. Private schooling cost — rather than saved — taxpayers’ dollars over this period.“But there is a catch, which is revealed if state and federal recurrent funding is considered separately.

“It cost the states around $2850 each year for every additional student in a government school. If those students had attended a non-government school the figure would be much lower, at $929 per student. The states did save money. It is hardly surprising that they have been willing to provide funding to the non-government sector, especially if they also reduced funding increases to their public schools.

“This odd situation helps explain the current tardiness of the states in bringing their school funding up to the agreed 80 per cent of the Schools Resourcing Standard, or SRS. It also undermines the push for schools in each sector to be funded to their SRS entitlement. As one analyst has revealed, public schools across Australia can’t and won’t get there.”