8 December 2010

The DOGS received the following letter from Seaford Park Primary School to Minister Garrett with regard to Public School Funding. It is a very good letter and has been read out on our 3CR program. We now offer it to our readers for their perusal.


18 November 2010

Mr Peter Garrett,

Re: Public School Funding

We the members of the Seaford Park Primary School Council write to you regarding out concerns over the current state of funding provided to the nation’s public schools. We are a small school of approximately 170 students in the suburb of Seaford on the outskirts of Melbourne.

Due to demographics, numbers at the school are in decline; however this is compounded by the current funding model used to ‘support’ public schools. Even a small drop in numbers has a dramatic impact on teachers, students and availability of programs. Another contributing factor is losing possible enrolments to the local private school under the guise of choice. But what choice are parents really being offered? A poorly funded, resourced and maintained public school becoming unviable in size; or a well resourced private school funded by public money. Public money which drains the public system of resources and therefore the vicious cycle continues.

Mr. Garrett, in September 2010 you told ABC radio, Öur goal is to make every school a great school. “However in reality the Labor Party ( after initially promising change if elected) instead extended the current inequitable funding arrangements until 2014. A funding model which leads to such situations as written in The Age in September.Scotch College, which boasts facilities including a diving pool, 18 tennis courts and an observatory, had a profit of $14 million last year. It received $4.7 million in yearly government grants.’ Private schools with exorbitant facilities and a plethora of programs receiving millions of dollars in grants, which prop up excessive profits. Let’s compare this to our little public school. Seaford Park )PS buildings are all portables, the ceiling contains asbestos, the roof leaks in numerous places and the façade desperately needs painting. Along with the run down facilities our programs such as Music, Science and Physical Education are at risk of being scrapped because of a shortage of money. Is this really choice? Is this the Federal Government helping make our school a great school?

I’m sure you would be aware that Australia ranks third lowest amongst OECD nations in terms of the public funding it gives to government schools and fourth highest in terms of its public expenditure on private schools. How can such a system be defended and then extended by your government? The Howard government SES funding formula is also only applied to private schools tghat are advantages, and not for schools it would reduce funding. This formula has been maintained by the Rudd/Gillard governments. A no-loser clause providing private schools with subsidies that can only go u0p. Whilst many public schools; our included; struggle on with inadequate, fluctuating or decreasing funds. Private and church run schools throughout the nation are utilizing government funds to accumulate wealth and build expensive facilities. This continues to widen the gap between resources available in government and private schools.

Since the latter half of the 19th century Australia has had a public education system based on the principles of free, secular and compulsory education. Until then, churches and private organisations had supplemented an inadequate public school system. If the current state of funding is not rectified then early 19th century arrangements may return.

Canadian commentator Heather-Jane Robertson is quoted as saying that ‘Public Education is the zenith of democracy’. In that case the current public education funding would be the nadir of our democracy.

We the councillors of Seaford Park Primary School implore you and your government to rectify the current funding provided to the nation’s schools. Act to fix a faltering public system, caused by poor funding and poorer policy both of the current and former governments. Make public education the government’s top priority for educating our nation’s future, its children.

School Council President

On Behlaf of Seaford Park Primary School Council.






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