I’ve received several interesting comments on my post Large savings for Qld Govt from shift to private schooling, including the comment below from a representative of independent schools (i.e. non-Catholic private schools such as BBC, Somerville House and the grammar schools):
…the main issue I wanted to alert you to was in relation to your suspicion/assumption about the difference in funding between the two private schools you used as examples, Brigidine and BBC.
It is true that a portion of the difference in federal funding relates to the differences in socio-economic status (SES) of the schools. The SES data, not ICSEA, is used for this funding formula.
BBC has a SES of 122, I think, and Brigidine has 115. On that basis, there would be some differential, but far smaller that the actual difference that you portrayed in your graph.
The major cause of the difference is that the Catholic schools system negotiated a special deal with the Howard government, which has been perpetuated by the Gillard government’s Gonski response. That means that all Catholic schools, regardless of their SES (and parental capacity to pay) are funded at the minimum SES level of 101 (in Qld). So Brigidine’s fairly wealthy parents get a massive federal subsidy, while BBC’s slightly more wealthy parents get a minimal subsidy. While the converse is true (that poorer catholic schools get the same level) there is an overwhelming benefit to catholic schools, most of which are above the 101 SES level.
This can be seen in the table referred to in the attached website… http://docs.education.gov.au/node/35461
The last column in the table reflects their funding, while the prior column reflects the true SES.
You will see that BBC’s SES is their actual funding level, while Brigidine’s is at the standard catholic level of 101 – a much higher level of subsidy. If you want a more extreme example, search for St Joseph’s school, Bardon, which at 125 has the highest SES in Qld (from memory), but still gets funding at the SES level of 101.
Based on the above, the current funding model appears to give highly favourable treatment to the Catholic school system compared with independent schools. Arguably, it is inequitable and confers an unfair competitive advantage to Catholic schools, and it should be reviewed.