More Government Spending Does Not Produce Better Educational Outcomes

Written by:
6 March 2024
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Key Findings

On 31 January 2024, the federal government announced a new education funding agreement with the State of Western Australia to ‘build a better and fairer education system’. The agreement would mean an additional billion dollars in state and federal government funding to WA schools over a five-year period, and if replicated in all states, could mean an additional $3 billion each year in federal spending on schools.

More government spending on schools will not build a better education system. This research note reveals government funding to Australian schools almost doubled between 2012 and 2022, while student learning outcomes continued to decline.

  • Between 2012 and 2022, the federal and state governments have spent a cumulative total of over $716 billion on the schools sector.
  • Between 2012 and 2022, federal government funding to the education sector increased from $14.4 billion to $25.1 billion (+75 per cent) while state government funding increased from $40.6 billion to $55 billion (+32 per cent).
  • Government funding to education has increased by 43 per cent since, while education results have declined by 3 per cent, according to the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment of 15-year-olds in mathematics, reading, and science.
  • This 3 per cent decline indicates an average 15-year-old in 2022 is more than half a year behind in learning compared to an average 15-year-old in 2012.

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