Australia’s top 50 private schools hold $8.5 billion in assets and spend millions on extravagant new buildings. At the same time, many public schools struggle to fund heating and cooling, and battle with a shortage of teachers and educational resources. Yet government funding for private schools in many cases exceeds that for government schools.
If Australia wants to maximize talents and create a more equitable society, all our children should have access to the best quality education we can provide.
Is Australia’s hybrid public/private system delivering inequality ahead of achievement?
What do other progressive social democratic countries such as Finland and Canada tell us about a more equitable education system? Could our current system be modified to ensure educational equality? Or should we bring all private schools into the public system?
Tom Greenwell teaches history and politics in the ACT public education system. He writes about Australian education policy for Inside Story and The Canberra Times. He has explored a wide range of topics including growing segregation in Australian schooling, the history of Australian education, and contemporary trends and challenges. He previously worked as a research officer with the Australian Education Union.
Chris Bonnor AM is a former teacher and secondary school principal. He was a previous head of the NSW Secondary Principals’ Council and is co-author, with Jane Caro, of The Stupid Country and What Makes a Good School? He has contributed to a range of publications and media, and has jointly authored papers on Australia’s schools in association with the Centre for Policy Development and the Gonski Institute for Education.