These are Australia’s 2,800 private schools — both Catholic and independent.

This private school might be in your neighbourhood. (It’s a real school but we’ve chosen not to identify it.)

It receives more public funding per student than this public school five kilometres down the road. Both teach students from similar backgrounds.

In 2009, it received more public funding than 17 public schools around Australia, all teaching similar students.

By 2016, those 17 had become 132.

It’s a trend echoed in hundreds of neighbourhoods across the country.

In 2009, fewer than 1,500 private schools received more public funding per student than a similar public school.

By 2016, that number was more than 2,100.

The billions poured into Australian schools since the dawn of the “education revolution” in 2008 carried a vision: to lift student achievement through more equitable funding.

But an analysis of school finance data compiled by ABC News shows that rather than closing the equity gap, the income divide is wider for many schools than at any point in the past decade.

The investigation uses My School data to reveal for the first time how the steep rise in government funding to private schools has left thousands of public schools with less public funding than similar private schools.

The dataset, which has only been released to a handful of researchers, provides a more detailed picture of school funding than any publicly available data.

“If pouring more money into the system actually increases inequity, then that’s astounding from a social justice point of view,” says Glenn Savage, a senior lecturer in education policy at the University of Western Australia.

“It means we’re using public money to continue the reproduction of advantage and disadvantage rather than creating more equality of opportunity, which is a major part of what education is supposed to do.”

This is the legacy of numerous concessions to the private schools sector, experts say — the latest worth $4.5 billion.

More information here. This article is a preface to a presentation on the ABC website offering a detailed analysis of the situation of funding to public vs non-public Australian schools.

Inga Ting, Ri Liu and Nathanael Scott

DATE March 13, 2019

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