20 Aug 2012
The Government has yet to give details of the new funding model based on the Gonski Review but in keeping with earlier promises, the PM has reiterated her promise that independent and private schools will not lose funding under the reforms.
Instead, she insists, her Government will provide the same funding for all school students, regardless of the type of school they attend and will not only recognise the diversity and uniqueness of Australian schools, but will support the choices parents make about the best school for their child.
In an address to the Independent Schools Council this morning, Ms Gillard insisted that all students, regardless of school, would be funded on a consistent basis for the first time and that every independent school in Australia would see their funding increased.
"This plan will lift school standards, not school fees,"" she said.
However the Prime Minister did not give any details on how or where the extra funds will be found.
Dr Croke welcomed the Prime Minister's announcement that funding of non-government schools would increase, not decline and believes this means the full-cost of annual indexation for all schools will be preserved under the new funding model.
One in three Australian children currently attend non-government schools with one in every five educated at a Catholic School. This number rises in Years 11 and 12 when there are one in three Australian students educated at Catholic schools.
Under the present system, Catholic along with independent and private schools receive 70% of their funding from the Commonwealth Government, while State and Territory governments are responsible for 90% of the funding of public schools.
But under the Gonski Review, modelling showed that many of these schools could lose significant funding. When modelling using retrospective data from 2009 found that funding might be reduced by as much as a third, and while this would vary from school to school, reductions in funding at some schools could be as high as $4 million.
However the Prime Minister has now assured independent and private schools that they will not be worse off with promises of increased funding to compensate for any shortfalls under the proposed funding reforms.
Under the Gonski Review an additional $6.5 billion will be needed from state and federal governments. As yet it is unclear where these extra funds will be found as Canberra as well as states and territories battle to get their budgets back into surplus.
"Precisely how the projected extra Commonwealth funds foreshadowed by the Prime Minister will be allocated across non-government and government schools is also unclear," says Dr Croke and makes clear that work on the Government's proposed funding reforms by the National Catholic Education Commission are continuing on behalf of all Catholic schools.
"The Commission is closely involved in all the national committees and advisory structures which are assisting in developing the new funding model," he says.
SHARED FROM ARCHDIOCESE OF SYDNEY