A surge in the number of Catholic and independent schools on the back of increased Federal funding is “fracturing our society”, according to Western Australian Secondary Schools Executives Association president Armando Giglia.
Mr Giglia said increased Federal government funding, such as Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s announcement in September of an extra $4.6 billion pledged over the next decade including a $1.2 billion “Choice and Availability Fund” designed to keep fees affordable, had led to an increase in non-government schools to the detriment of public schools.
School funding is shaping up as an election issue, with an Australian Education Union poll revealing 83 per cent of respondents said public school funding was important to how they would vote.
The Australian Education Union claimed the funding for non-government schools disadvantaged public school students and failed to rectify cuts to public school funding.
In response to the Government’s funding announcement, Labor pledged to increase funding for public schools, promising the investment of $14 billion over 10 years, including an additional $300 million to support students with disabilities.
Mr Giglia said while debate had focused on who the money was going to and how much was spent, the real focus should be on what the money was being spent on.
He said spending was not going to the right places and the increase in non-government schools was resulting “fracturing our society, separating it and causing some problems.”
City of Bayswater councillor and high school teacher Michelle Sutherland, who ran for Liberal pre-selection in Stirling, said she believed “all schools needed the same amount of money” and she noticed more money was being spent on infrastructure at schools.
Mrs Sutherland said “isolated schools needed more money” than they currently received and Federal spending should be “more strategic and targeted”
She also called for State governments and education departments to have more control over where Federal money was spent.
The WA government announced in 2017 it would invest $465 million in school infrastructure.
In Stirling, Balcatta Senior High School will be undergoing a $50 million rebuilding project with construction starting soon. Mount Lawley Senior High School received $4 million to upgrade their facilities and Yokine Primary School received $350,000 to construct a new administration building.