Private schools will be required to reveal their annual income and taxpayer funding but not wealth stored in assets such as foundations, shares and investment properties, in a new version of the MySchool website.
The omission of assets from the new financial section of the My School website could deceive parents and taxpayers about the extent of private schools' wealth, and therefore their entitlement to government grants, which are now under review, said a report in The Age.
''It's an incomplete picture that will distort just how needy a school actually is,'' said Australian Education Union head Angelo Gavrielatos.
Changes to the website, which rates schools according to their performance on national literacy and numeracy tests, should be formally approved by state education ministers at a meeting on October 15.
The exact format of the new financial section is unknown, but the agency responsible for the website, the Australian Curriculum and Reporting Assessment Authority, told The Sunday Age information about school assets would not be included.
That means the My School profile of a school such as Geelong Grammar could contain details such as the total earned in fees in 2009 ($52.6 million), government grants ($5.3 million), and donations received ($3.8 million). But it will leave out the school's assets, including investment properties last year valued at about $1.2 million, and about $16 million in shareholdings.
While schools such as Geelong Grammar are incorporated and must provide these details in reports to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, the reports cost about $50 to access and are hard to interpret. Many Catholic and Uniting Church schools, such as Xavier and Wesley colleges, are unincorporated and therefore do not report full audited financial accounts to ASIC, the report adds.
The My School update is intended to make it easier for parents to assess how well a school performs with its available resources.
Site revamp lets private schools shield their assets (The Age)
Screenshot from the government's MySchool website