NSW Private Schools with Wealthy Families Among the Most Overfunded

Median family taxable income was $304,000 for one private school receiving handsome govt funding.
Jun 25, 2024
Confusingly, the wealthiest schools in NSW remain over funded.

The Federal Government is spending $350 million on elite private schools in NSW that educate children from wealthy families, meanwhile every public school is underfunded.

The most overfunded include some of the richest schools in the nation. Loreto Kirribilli, where the median family taxable income was $418,000 in 2023, is being overfunded by $11.6 million between 2022 and 2028. Newington College, where the median family taxable income was $371,000, is being overfunded by $13.4 million. St Augustine’s College, where the median family taxable income was $304,000, is being overfunded by $22 million.

There are 98 NSW Independent schools where the median taxable income of families was $200,000 or higher in 2023. The school with the highest median taxable family income in the nation in 2023 was SCEGGS Darlinghurst ($495,000).

52 of those 98 schools are funded above their entitlement by the Federal Government at a cost to taxpayers of $353 million between 2022 and 2028. (It is unclear whether a further 21 of the schools are overfunded because the available funding information is incomplete).

The new analysis comes after an inquiry, ordered by Education Ministers, warned in December that the underfunding of public schools is “undermining other reform efforts with real implications for student educational and wellbeing outcomes, teacher attraction and retention”.

The Expert Panel that conducted the inquiry said the need for the full funding of public schools was “all the more urgent because of the full funding arrangements that already exist in the non-government sector”.

NSW Education Minister Prue Car said in May: “We cannot look parents, teachers and students in the eye any longer and tell them it is OK that the government funds them below what they need.”

AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe said the new figures exposed the inequity in school funding.

“Across the nation, Department of Education figures show 40% of private schools are overfunded by the Federal Government at a total cost to taxpayers of $3.2 billion between 2022 and 2029.

“That means lifting its contribution to NSW public schools from 20% of the SRS to 25%. The NSW Government needs to deliver the remaining 75% of the SRS, free of the accounting tricks that currently inflate its share by 4% through the inclusion of non-school spending such as capital depreciation.

“Fully funding public schools is the only way to ensure every child gets the support they need to succeed, and we can recruit and retain sufficient numbers of teachers. There needs to be additional teachers and counsellors in NSW schools, along with more support staff and specialist staff, such as speech therapists.

“The challenges are too great and the cost of inaction too high for governments to continue to fail on funding.

Image by Towfiqu Barbhuiya