What is the Student Centred Funding Model (SCFM)?
The new funding model allocates money to schools based on the number of students they have, as well as their size and location. Extra funding is allocated for students with learning disabilities, low socio-economic status, are Aboriginal, or have English as a second language. Funding is allocated to schools based on student need.
Do we support the SCFM?
The SCFM is based on the findings of a report by Professor Richard Teese into WA school funding and is strongly linked to the findings of the Gonski report. We support the idea of a needs-based funding model, for which we have been advocating for many years. We therefore support, in principle, the introduction of the SCFM.
Why introducing the SCFM on the back of funding cuts a bad idea?
While we support the idea of a needs-based funding model, our concern is that the government is trying to implement it on the back of savage cuts to school budgets. This completely flies in the face of what this new funding model is trying to achieve.
A student centred funding model as recommended by both David Gonski and Professor Richard Teese, does not go hand-in-hand with funding reductions. Gonski recommended a funding model which sees all students resourced at a benchmarked standard, requiring a significant injection of funding across the country ($6.5 billion nationwide). The Abbott government has reneged on its pre-election promise that it was on a “unity ticket” with the ALP in relation to school funding and now refuses to commit more than one third of the total required.
Teese, the architect of WA’s new funding model, has publicly queried “whether introducing these savings measures at the same time as bringing in a substantial change in the funding formula is a good idea.” Parents and teachers in WA overwhelmingly support the concept of a needs based funding model, but not in the context of $200m in cuts from public schools and certainly not at the expense of secondary schools.
What does it mean for schools in 2015?
Colin Barnett’s new SCFM doesn’t include any new money for public schools. It is simply a redistribution of current funding, on the back of $200 million already cut from education in 2014. Barnett is just taking money from one unlucky student to give to another.
Overall, secondary schools will lose around $45 million from their budgets over a five year transition period. 60% of schools will be worse off, compared to 2013. Thirteen secondary schools will lose more than $1 million each.
The fact is, education spending is increasing in real terms at a rate of 1.2% this financial year, while the student population is increasing at a rate of 3.4%.