As the full cost of education for an Australian school child is significant (approximately $12,000 per primary student and $14,000 per secondary student each year), most families could not meet this cost without some government support. That’s why Commonwealth, State and Territory governments provide some funding for all Australian school students, whether they attend public schools, low-fee paying Catholic schools or independent schools.
The benchmark for school funding is known as the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS). While taxpayers fund the entire SRS for all government schools, they only fund part of the SRS for non-government schools and the parents of these non-government schools make up the difference through school fees and fundraising.
The way school funding is calculated is complex. It begins with a base amount per student each year ($11,343 per primary student and $14,254 per secondary student) and then loadings are added for six types of disadvantage: disability; language background other than English; Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background; low socioeconomic advantage; small schools; remote schools.
The base amount plus disadvantage loadings make up the SRS. This amount varies for each school according to its students’ needs. An outer suburban primary school with high levels of disadvantage might have an SRS of more than $18,000 per student, while a primary school serving affluent families might have an SRS of under $12,000 per student.
Government schools receive their entire SRS in public funding regardless of the school’s location or socioeconomic status (SES). Non-government schools receive only some of their SRS in public funding, based on a means test of the schools’ parents.
Non-government school parents fund some of their children’s education according to their capacity to contribute. Based on the SES of the school, some parents are expected to contribute more, other parents less. So while the non-government schools serving the lowest SES communities attract 90% of their base funding from the government, schools serving the highest SES communities only receive 20% of their base funding from government.
The Catholic Schools Office Lismore is committed to ensuring that all our schools are well placed to support the needs of their students.