CATH NEWS REPORT: Data to be released today by the Productivity Commission suggests that public funding for each student at private schools has declined over recent years, once state government funding is taken into account, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.At the same time, public funding per student at government schools has risen over the same period, the data suggests.
The figures challenge popular perceptions and are likely to be seized upon by Catholic and independent schools as they argue their case to the federal government's review of school funding, being chaired by the businessman David Gonski.
The commission calculated that federal, state and territory government recurrent expenditure per student in government schools was $13,544 in 2008-09. This represented an average annual increase in real terms of 1.2 per cent since 2004-05.
The commission said total government expenditure per student in non-government schools was $6850 in 2008-09. This represented an average annual decrease in real terms of 1.6 per cent since 2004-05.
But Trevor Cobbold, a former Productivity Commission economist and the head of the public education advocacy group Save Our Schools, questioned the commission's figures.
''Items unrelated to the classroom largely account for the increase in government school expenditure in comparison to expenditure on private schools,'' he said. ''The user cost of capital and depreciation for government schools increased by 34 per cent between 2004-05 and 2008-09. These items are excluded from government expenditure on private schools. Without these items, government school expenditure may well have declined.''