The ACT branch of the Australian Education Union is calling on the ACT Government to cut its funding to Canberra Grammar School after it received a hefty $20 million donation from old boy Terry Snow.
On Saturday morning (26 October), the Australian Education Union ACT branch council, which represents more than 3,700 teachers, unanimously carried a motion calling for the government to cut funding to the private school.
The motion said the Commonwealth and ACT Governments should immediately recall the millions of dollars of funding that the school receives from taxpayers and ratepayers each year.
It said Snow’s recent donation is a “perfect vignette of the intolerable inequity that exists”.
“Council requests that any planned future government funding earmarked for Canberra Grammar School be immediately repurposed to directly support the education – preferably the music education – of the ACT’s disadvantaged students, the overwhelming majority of whom are in public schools,” the motion reads.
“Council remains outraged that Australia’s school education system is one of the most socially segregated in the world and that the funding of Australian schools is becoming increasingly inequitable. It is a national scandal.
“Nobody can or should control how Terry Snow donates his money, but governments have a responsibility to provide financial subsidies and support to Australians who need it and to not waste precious tax expenditure on those who do not need it.”
The secretary of the ACT branch, Glenn Fowler, believes private schools should not receive money from the government.
“In this country, there is a sense of entitlement around private school funding,” Mr Fowler told Region Media. “It doesn’t matter what they have, they continue to get millions of dollars a year of money that could be better spent on public schools.
“I would say there is a strong consensus in the Australian public that funding is not fair, that public school kids need more and private school kids have enough.
“It is an absolute waste of taxpayers money going into that school. They don’t need it. They have no entitlement to it. There is no justification for it.”
The union believes that the school receives more than $34 million per year in fees paid by parents and $7 million a year in government funding. Mr Fowler said both the ACT and Federal Governments need to reassess its need-based funding for schools.
“There have been attempts by various governments to address the issue of needs-based funding in Australia but what they have landed on doesn’t cut it,” he said. “There is still massive inequities.
“The money going to Canberra Grammar from governments has nothing to do with need but rather a sense of historical entitlement. It should be immediately rethought.
“The most important question to ask is why are some children in this country seen as more important than others?”
The Canberra Airport owner donated $20 million to his former school for a 1,400-seat auditorium, a music centre and a 450 square-metre library in the heart of its campus. The complex will also include a formal entryway, four music classrooms, up to 20 music tuition rooms and a staff room.
It is believed the donation is the largest endowment to a school in Australian history.