In the latest review of Australia's education funding, a government report has highlighted a significant issue that could see public schools miss out on $13 billion over the next five years. 

The National School Resourcing Board’s annual review, a critical assessment mandated by the Australian Education Act 2013, has scrutinised state and territory compliance with the Act's section 22A. 

This provision mandates minimum funding contributions from states and territories as a condition for receiving Commonwealth financial assistance. 

The Board's findings, supported by expert advice, revealed that while the majority complied with their obligations, the Northern Territory's funding contributions fell short, marking its third consecutive year of non-compliance. 

The shortfall primarily affected the government sector, with a reported 2.02 per cent lower contribution than required.

This review also uncovered a loophole from the Scott Morrison era, allowing states and territories to divert up to 4 per cent of public school funding towards non-school expenditures. 

This ‘accounting trick’ led to a more than $2 billion loss for government schools in 2022 alone. 

With no plans to revisit these provisions until the next funding agreement in 2030, the financial future of Australia's public schools hangs in the balance. 

The report underscores the persistent underfunding of public schools relative to private institutions and calls for a reevaluation of current funding models and agreements to ensure equitable education funding across the board.

Trevor Cobbold, convener of Save our Schools, has described the report as an “official confirmation” of the biased nature of current funding agreements against public schools. 

The Australian Education Union has echoed these concerns, highlighting the particularly dire situation in the Northern Territory. 

Meanwhile, states like Western Australia and New South Wales, which are already meeting or exceeding their funding targets, have become focal points in the debate over the need to eliminate funding loopholes and ensure a fair distribution of resources to all schools. 

This report not only shines a light on the disparities within Australia’s education funding but also ignites a conversation on the need for comprehensive reform to safeguard the quality and accessibility of public education for future generations.

The full report is accessible here.