Waiting for Gonski: the Federal Budget, schools and VET

The recent Federal Budget did herald a major bit of good news, with the federal government agreeing to extend the Literacy and Numeracy National Partnership for a further 18 months.

However, there were few other new education initiatives in the Federal Budget brought down by Treasurer Wayne Swan on 8 May. Except for $5.8m to further explore its recommendations, the Gonski Report’s recommendations were ignored. In the absence of a new schools funding regime, funding for non-government schooling is projected to continue to outpace funding for government schools. VET funding, depending on how you define it, is projected as stagnant or declining.

Schools

 

Table 1: Expenditure on Education, Estimates and Projections ($m)

 

2011-12

2012-13

2013-14

2014-15

2015-16

NGS

7,734

8,311

8,977

9,691

10,457

GS

4,574

4,561

4,510

4,777

4,939

School Education – Specific Funding

1,940

1,522

738

713

1,396

Source: Table 7 Budget Paper No. 1, Statement 6

 

Table 1 shows estimated and projected expenditure for government schools (GS) and non-government schools (NGS) from 2011-12 to 2015-16. The major components of the school education – specific funding section in table 1 are the national partnership agreements on Building the Education Revolution, Digital Education Revolution, Improving Teacher Quality, Trade Training Centres, Empowering Local Schools, Reward for School Improvement, Rewards for Great Teachers and Youth Attainment and Transitions, and a number of elements of the Closing the Gap package. This includes both government and non-government school expenditure.

The variation in expenses between years is predominantly attributed to the terms of these national partnerships. In particular, the estimated reduction in expenses from 2011-12 to 2014-15 is due to the winding up of a number of national partnerships, including Youth Attainment and Transitions, Digital Education Revolution, Improving Teacher Quality and the completion of Building the Education Revolution projects by the end of 2011-12. The increase in expenses from 2014-15 to 2015-16 is due to the rollout of new national partnerships, including Empowering Local Schools, Reward for School Improvement and Rewards for Great Teachers.

 

Table 2: Expenditure on Education, Estimates and Projections – Expressed as a % of Total Government Expenditure (%)

 

2011-12

2012-13

2013-14

2014-15

2015-16

NGS

2.1

2.2

2.3

2.3

2.4

GS

1.2

1.2

1.1

1.1

1.1

Total Education

7.8

7.9

7.5

7.5

7.7

Source: Tables1 & 7, Budget Paper No. 1, Statement 6

 

Table 2 shows that while funding for government schools and for education generally decline as a proportion of all government funding over the period 2011-12 to 2015-16, funding for non-government schools steadily increases. Table 3 shows that the non-government sector’s share of schools funding will increase from 63 per cent to 68 per cent over this period, in the absence of a new schools funding system.

 

Table 3: Funding Share (%)

 

2011-12

2012-13

2013-14

2014-15

2015-16

NGS

62.8

64.6

66.6

67

67.9

GS

37.2

35.4

33.4

33

32.1

Source: Table 7, Budget Paper No. 1, Statement 6

 

National partnership payments constituted the majority of federal schools expenditure in 2009-10, but have been shrinking in comparison to strategic partnership program (SPP) funding since then.

 

Table 4: Total payments for specific purposes by sector and category, 2011-12 to 2015-16($m)

 

2011-12

2012-13

2013-14

2014-15

2015-16

National Schools SPP

11,344

12,188

13,125

14,161

15,269

National Partnerships

2,435

1,664

512

583

1,090

Total education payments

13,778

13,851

13,636

14,744

16,360

Source: Table 2.3, Budget Paper No. 3

Literacy and Numeracy National Partnership

As noted above, the government has announced that the Literacy and Numeracy NP would be extended for 18 months at a cost of an additional $243million. There was no information about this funding in the main Budget papers,  but the DEEWR Portfolio Budget Statement does contain allocations until 2015-16, although no details about how this funding will be delivered.

Other new initiatives

Budget Paper No. 2 sets out new and changed funding programs. There are no major initiatives listed in the “Education” section. Measures of note include a number of cost-saving measures such as:

  • postponement of funding for the development of an Australian baccalaureate
  • postponement of funding for national trade cadetships
  • early termination of funding for the digital education revolution
  • revision of arrangements for the proposed teacher bonus payments
  • revision of arrangements for the Teach Next program
  • reduction in reward payments for school improvement
  • reduction in funding for the student resilience and well-being program.

Additional funding has been allocated for the Teach Remote program.

The other major education-related Budget initiative, listed under the “Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs” heading, is the new Schoolkids Bonus.

The government will provide $2.1billion over five years to provide guaranteed support to families with the costs of their children’s education. This will replace the education tax refund (ETR), which is currently available as a refundable tax offset. The Schoolkids Bonus will be made in two equal instalments in January and July each year, commencing January 2013. Every family with a child at school will be guaranteed $410 per annum for each primary school student and $820 per annum for each secondary school student.

VET

 

Table 5: Expenditure on Vocational Education & Training ($m)

 

2011-12

2012-13

2013-14

2014-15

2015-16

Vocational and other education

1,997

1,889

1,929

2,096

2,091

Vocational and industry training*

1,982

1,719

1,706

1,703

1,677

Total

3,979

3,608

3,635

3,799

3,768

*This is not classed as ‘educational expenditure’; it is reported under ‘other economic affairs’.

Source: Tables 7 & 16, Budget Paper No. 1, Statement 6

 

Table 5 shows estimated and projected VET expenditure from 2011-12 to 2015-16. Table 6 breaks down the major components of the “vocational and other education” category.

 

Table 6: Trends in the major components of vocational and other education sub-function expenses

 

Estimates

Projections

2011-12

2012-13

2012-14

2014.15

2015-16

$m

$m

$m

$m

$m

Assistance to the states for skills and workforce development

1,363

1,389

1,415

1,443

1,471

National partnership payments - vocational and other education

421

279

283

415

377

Adult Migrant English Program

213

221

231

238

243

Total

1,997

1,889

1,929

2,096

2,091

Budget Paper No.1, Statement 6

 

A more detailed summary of the Budget is available at www.qtu.asn.au. The Budget Papers in full are available at: www.budget.gov.au/2012-13/index.htm

John McCollow
Research Officer

Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 117 No 4, 1 June 2012, pp12-13