Media release - Local Schools, Local Decisions: needs-based equity funding
The Auditor-General for New South Wales, Margaret Crawford, released a report today examining the Department of Education’s (the department’s) support and oversight of school planning and use of needs-based funding under the Local Schools, Local Decisions reform.
The report found the department has not had adequate oversight of how schools are using needs-based funding to improve student outcomes since it was introduced in 2014.
The department had not set measures or targets for needs-based equity funding. It had also not been clear enough in how it expected schools to report on the outcomes of additional funding. This means it has not been able to effectively demonstrate the impact of funding at a school, or state-wide level.
To assist with the transition to greater local decision-making, the department provided schools with guidance materials, additional resources and systems support. However, guidance material was not clear enough on the purpose of funding, school budgeting systems were not fit-for-purpose when initially introduced, and support for schools was spread across different areas of the department.
The department has recently increased executive oversight of progress to improve educational outcomes for Aboriginal students and students from a low socio-economic background. It has also developed a consistent set of school-level targets to be implemented from 2020. This may help the department more reliably monitor progress in lifting outcomes for students with additional learning needs.
The report makes eight recommendations aimed at clarifying requirements of schools, better coordinating support and strengthening oversight of the use of needs-based equity funding.