There is an ongoing debate in politics as well as in the media about government funding of independent schools – and there have been a lot of misconceptions and distortion of facts. In particular The Age has been running a campaign against funding for independent schools using phrases such as “a flawed funding model” and “generous funding to independent schools”. In 2007, columnist Katherine Deveny put it more bluntly when she wrote, “private schools should not receive funding.”
What is often not mentioned is that the existence of independent schools actually saves the taxpayer money. For example, one local independent school receives almost $3,000 of funding annually per Primary student and about $3,800 per Secondary student. The average cost of educating a student in a government school in Australia is over $7,000 (Primary) and over $9,000 (Secondary).
In other words, every primary student at this local school saves the taxpayer over $4,000 a year and every secondary student saves the taxpayer over $5,000. The combined 2008 saving to taxpayers from families attending this school will be over $13 million.
What needs to be made clear is that scrapping – or reducing – government funding to independent schools will increase fees thus forcing some families to send their children to government schools and putting extra stress on the public school system. This in turn will cost the taxpayer more. It would also reduce the education options for families and penalize people of faith who desire for their children to have an education that is consistent with their religious beliefs.
I believe it is the right of every parent to send their children to a school of their choice – be it government or independent, but please let’s not buy in to some of the tripe that is being served up currently by some politicians and media commentators. It’s hard to believe they don’t have some sort of anti-faith agenda!