The Australian Government is delivering new school funding and reform arrangements. To explain the reforms, some frequently asked questions are available.
Table of contents
How does the Australian Government fund schools?
From 2018, the Australian Government is providing school funding that is based on the need of students and schools, so that funding goes to where it is needed the most.
From 1 January 2018 amendments to the Australian Education Act 2013 (the Act) took effect. The Commonwealth will contribute a consistent share of the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) for each school. The Commonwealth’s share will increase to 80% of the SRS for non-government schools and 20% cent for government schools by 2029.
A majority of schools currently are funded below their target Commonwealth share of the SRS and will transition to the target by 2023. Schools that are currently funded above their target Commonwealth share will transition to it by 2029 at the latest.
By 2029, all schools will attract consistent shares of the SRS from the Commonwealth.
Under the new arrangements, state and territory governments are also required to deliver their share of total public funding. State and territory governments can decide to fund above their minimum contribution requirements and continue to have the discretion to allocate state funding to schools according to their own funding distribution models.
Further information about state funding requirements is available on the How are schools funded in Australia page.
When did the Quality Schools funding arrangements take effect?
The funding arrangements commenced on 1 January 2018 and schools have started moving to consistent shares of the SRS.
These arrangements will provide an additional $44.7 billion in recurrent funding for schools over 2018 to 2029, on top of the 2016–17 Budget settings. The Australian Government is also providing additional financial support to help non-government schools that may find it difficult to adjust to funding changes.
What does this mean for my school?
The majority of schools and systems will see increases in their Commonwealth funding. On average, per student funding from the Australian Government will grow by 4.0% each year from 2018 and 2029 (from a 2017 base).
Read more funding for each state on the factsheet: How much Australian Government funding is provided to schools in each state and territory?
Is the Quality Schools package really delivering 'record funding'?
The Australian Government will deliver a record $315.2 billion in total school recurrent funding from 2018 to 2029. Recurrent funding for schools will grow from a record $18.7 billion in 2018 to $32.7 billion in 2029.
This funding will grow faster than broader economic growth, with total Commonwealth recurrent funding growing by 86.6% from 2018 to 2029 (from a 2017 base) and funding per student growing at an average of 4.0% each year (from a 2017 base).
At the national level, funding per student for government, independent and Catholic schools is expected to continue to increase in real terms, exceeding projected growth in enrolments and inflation.
Read more about school funding on the factsheet: How are schools funded in Australia?
Will any schools lose funding?
A small number of non-government schools are expected to have recurrent funding reduced. This is as a result of the transition to consistent Commonwealth shares of the Schooling Resource Standard and the use from 2020 of a direct measure of income to calculate capacity of a non-government school community to contribute to the costs of schooling. This is because these non-government schools have historically received more funding than similar schools with students with similar levels of need.
The funding reduction will occur in a manageable way, with most affected schools set to have only a small reduction in Commonwealth funding.
To provide schools with funding certainty and to support a smooth transition, the Australian Government is providing a number of financial support measures designed to assist non-government schools to adjust to new funding levels. Further information is available at: How and when will schools move to new funding arrangements?
What is the National School Resourcing Board?
The Australian Government established the independent National School Resourcing Board (the Board) to undertake reviews of different parts of the funding model under the Australian Education Act 2013 (the Act).
These reviews will help ensure public confidence in the funding model and ensure states, territories and other approved authorities comply with their obligations under the Act.
Over time, the reviews undertaken by the Board will help show how school funding is improving educational outcomes, as well as making sure funding is used in line with the Act.
For more information see our webpage on the National School Resourcing Board.
What further refinements are underway to implement the government's funding arrangements?
From 2020, the Australian Government is introducing a Direct Measure of Income for calculating the anticipated capacity of a non-government school community to contribute towards the operating costs of their school. The Direct Measure of Income will be applied based on the median income of parents and/or guardians of students at a non-government school.
The new measure will be used for all schools from 2022 and in 2020 and 2021 for schools that would financially benefit.
Under current arrangements capacity to contribute is calculated using the socio-economic status (SES) score of the area(s) where the students reside. This was the best available data when the measure was implemented in 2001. Recent innovations mean that a more direct measure of a school community’s capacity to contribute is now available. This approach will ensure more funding flows to the schools that need it the most.
How is funding for students with disability being improved?
From 2018, the Commonwealth's student with disability loading is based on the Nationally Consistent Collection of Data on School Students with Disability (NCCD).
The NCCD captures all students with disability receiving adjustments to support their access and participation in learning.
Students with disability who are counted in the top 3 levels of the NCCD (supplementary, substantial and extensive) attract additional funding through the student with disability loading. This enables funding to be better targeted to student need as identified through the NCCD.
To ensure this data is of the highest possible quality, the Australian Government is providing an additional $20 million over four years (2017-18 to 2020-21) to strengthen and quality assure the NCCD across all sectors. Further information is available at: What is the Australian Government is doing to support students with disability?
How will the Australian Government's plan improve student achievement?
Mr David Gonski chaired the Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools (the Review). The final report was delivered to Government on 28 March 2018. The Review's recommendations and findings have informed the National Schools Reform Agreement between the Commonwealth and state and territory governments.
By signing up to the Agreement, governments commit to a sustained reform effort that will drive improved student outcomes and excellence in our classrooms.
The Review made a number of recommendations in relation to learning progressions and tailored teaching to support student achievement. To further explore these recommendations, the Australian Government established an expert reference panel that developed the concept paper Growth to Achievement: on-demand resources for teachers. The paper sets out a clear vision, expected benefits and outcomes of these recommendations as well as the key considerations and high-level options for development and implementation.
What is the National School Reform Agreement?
The National School Reform Agreement is a joint agreement between the Commonwealth and state and territory governments aimed at providing the best opportunities for students and support for teachers.
The Agreement builds on existing national and local initiatives in each state and territory and ensures that funding is invested in programs that will have the biggest impact on student outcomes.
The Agreement operates from 2019 to 2023.
What are the reforms in the National School Reform Agreement?
The Agreement sets out 8 national reforms against three reform directions.
The 8 national reforms are based on evidence of what works, in areas where national collaboration will have the greatest impact on driving improved student outcomes.
The first reform direction is all about supporting students, student learning and student achievement. It includes initiatives to enhance use of the curriculum and online resources to assist teachers to identify individual student needs and their next steps in learning.
- Reform 1: Enhancing the Australian Curriculum to support teacher assessment of student attainment and growth against clear descriptors
- Reform 2: Opt-in and on demand student learning assessment tools to assist teachers monitor individual progress
- Reform 3: Reviewing senior secondary pathways into work, further education and training
While recognising that Australia already has some of the world's best teachers, the second reform direction strengthens our nation's ability to train, recruit and retain the best. This includes a national teacher workforce strategy that ensures supply and demand are met, regardless of sector or location.
- Reform 4: Review teacher workforce needs of the future
- Reform 5: Strengthening the initial teacher education accreditation system
The third reform direction is focused on enhancing the national evidence base. These reforms will help build capability to track student progress, inform teacher practice and improve data quality.
- Reform 6: Designing and implementing a national unique student identifier
- Reform 7: Establishing an independent national evidence institute to inform teacher practice, system improvement and policy development
- Reform 8: Improving national data quality, consistency and collection to improve the national evidence base and inform policy development