This article explores the formula-based school funding system in the state of Victoria, Australia, where state funds are directly allocated to schools based on a range of equity measures. The impact of Victoria’s funding system for education in terms of alleviating inequality and disadvantage is contentious, to say the least. It is difficult to adopt the belief that equity funding can alter the unequal levels of capacity that pupils bring into the classroom as a result of their varied socio-economic backgrounds. This study highlights a number of contextual factors that challenge the equity considerations of the Victorian school funding system. Among these factors include: the ability of individual schools to raise their own funds; allocation of a significant proportion of formula funding for staff salaries without directly addressing educational disadvantages; and the unnecessary complexity of formulas and limited community access to funding information. Nevertheless, the formula-based school funding system in Victoria presents a model in which funding is tied directly to the needs of both students and schools; a uniform criteria to apply impartially to each school; an increased level of accessible information on how the funds have been deployed; a reduced level of complexity presented compared to overlapping funding models from state, district and local authorities in other jurisdictions; and an opportunity for meaningful analysis generated on the school level to explore the impact of funding and incorporate improvements in a single funding system.
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