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WA school funding  ineffective
Too much focus: WA high school students. Picture: Sharon Smith/The West Australian

The way WA public schools are funded is unfair and ineffective, a long-awaited review commissioned by the State Government has found.

The University of Melbourne report, which has been kept under wraps for more than a year, said WA's funding model was outdated, overly complex and weighted too heavily in favour of high school students.

Lead researcher Richard Teese said a new model should deliver a uniform price for each student based on individual needs instead of funding schools based on how many teachers they employ.

The current model did not do enough to lift poorer students out of a cycle of disadvantage because it enhanced disparities between schools.

Secondary schools had historically always received more funding, even though research showed intervention in the early years had a more lasting effect on student achievement.

The report said WA had the biggest gap between funding of primary and secondary students out of all Australian States and Territories.

It also suggested more effort should be put into funding lower secondary instead of Years 11 and 12.

Education Minister Peter Collier said though he agreed that funding should be targeted to ensure resources were used to best effect, he stopped short of saying the State Government would adopt the Teese model.

He said work was being done to develop a fairer model which would take the Teese review into account.

"It is clear from this comprehensive review that the current funding mechanism has passed its use-by date," he said.

WA is refusing to sign up to the Federal Government's funding scheme based on a separate review headed by businessman David Gonski.

Professor Teese said his model was consistent with Gonski in that it was based on student need, but it placed more emphasis on correcting the imbalance between funding primary and secondary students.

WA Primary Principals Association president Stephen Breen said he hoped the report's findings would be implemented.

WA Secondary School Executives Association president Rob Nairn said implementation should be done without compromising the quality of education in high schools.