Parents Voice in Government School Education

Cost of schooling – PV comment

The Age reports today on the large voluntary contributions some government schools are requesting from parents. According to the article, “Families are being asked to make hundreds of dollars in voluntary payments to public schools, with principals warning that without the contributions they can deliver only a basic education.”

“Schools are underfunded”

The article quotes David Zyngier, associate professor in education at Southern Cross University. Professor Zyngier said if state schools were properly funded, voluntary contributions would not be so important. “Unfortunately, public schools still have to beg, borrow and hopefully not steal from parents and the community to supply the essentials for their kids,” he said. “The reason they have to do that is … in Victoria and almost every public school in the rest of Australia, except for ACT, are underfunded.”

Our comments

Parents Victoria has long campaigned for adequate funding for government schools, so they are not forced to request large sums from parents to provide a quality education. Parents Victoria CEO Gail McHardy made the following comments on this issue yesterday:

  • Why are prices of some booklist items so high, and so variable? For example,  an A4 Binder Book is listed at $2.20 at one secondary college, $1.55 at another and only 50c at a major chain store!
  • Schools charge parents for the various school communication platforms e.g. Compass. This charge varies from one school to the next – $10 to $70 per student! Isn’t communication with parents an essential part of a child’s education?
  • PV found an example of a variance of Building & Grounds contribution being $25 for Preps, 5 & 6 students but the Year 2, 3 & 4’s it was $32 – why?
  • On some of the second-hand hand textbooks, schools charge a “reactivation code” as one mum explained on radio this morning. She assumed a year 7 textbook she bought her son in 2022 could be easily passed down to her next child starting Year 7 in 2023 without cost. She advised on air that for some of the texts there is a $20-30 “reactivation code” charge.

The broader issue

Gail also spoke more broadly about the underlying issue – inadequate funding for government schools, and inequitable funding between the government and private sectors:

  • ‘On costs’ to parents are getting more each year and this is an annual discussion when it’s back to school time
  • As we’ve been saying for many years; until the equitable distribution of school funding is addressed, public schools are missing out
  • Considering schools are to deliver the standard Victorian Curriculum, why is there such a variance in on-cost charges to families?
  • Until there is equitable distribution of school funding these rising costs are not going to change.


Read the Age article

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