More private school pain to come as luxuries the first to go in tough times – Michmutters

More private school pain to come as luxuries the first to go in tough times

Or perhaps it’s doing a little research on the genuine benefit of tithing a handy chunk of our weekly income to a faith-based school whose faith many parents don’t even practice or really share.

Victoria’s parents are drenched in the guilt so heavily marketed at them about how they’re doing their child harm by not paying to send them to the school advertising their privilege on Eastlink. What if they discover the truth about the supposed educational gains made by paying all that money, and they don’t find a lot of return?

What if they discover that, by multiple measures, our government schools clearly outperform their fee-clawing counterparts?

I feel for our private and independent school leaders. They’ve found themselves on a fiercely competitive playing field and are forced to spend spiraling amounts of parent- and taxpayer-provided funds on marketing and facilities, not on education, every year.

It’s not why they got into teaching, but that’s not where the pain ends either.

The second whammy private schools are facing could well come from our new federal government.

Credit:Matt Golding

Despite including education policy in its own “small target” approach to the election campaign, the Albanese government won’t be able to hide from its commitments to fair and needs-based funding for long.

The current funding agreement, which Labor has chosen not to challenge, ends next year. Education unions, teachers and families invested in government schools will be watching closely.

They’ll be looking for puffed-up, statistically over-funded private schools, such as the obscenely wealthy Essendon Grammar (over-funded by $23 million), Haileybury ($22 million) and Ivanhoe Grammar ($10 million), to be brought back to the pack.


Of course, as it is when petrol prices bite, the Porsche drivers aren’t the ones who’ll be hit hardest. And I expect very few of the aforementioned schools to experience an enrollment crisis.

It’ll be schools you’ve probably never heard of whose parents are working two jobs to sustain this low-return life choice that we can predict to be leaving the lower fee-charging private options.

These potential new additions to government schooling, alongside the existing public education enlistees, will be looking for their own schools to be funded – at least to the Schooling Resource Standard that the former Morrison government set, and then chose to forget, for a decade.

And if Jason Clare really does choose meaningful education reform as the hallmark of his time in this portfolio, the pain of less money for private schools to spend on billboards, orchestra pits and Olympic-sized swimming pools is coming.


Reform of a transparent nature, where funds will be allocated to schools based on need and potential for improvement, rather than by the school’s glittering alumni of government ministers or their proximity to a marginal electorate is a significant threat to the private school sector.

I expect that those with the biggest stake in this fight won’t cop it quietly. But I also suspect that we haven’t yet heard the last sad Colmont School story either.

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