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Canberra Catholic schools gearing up to fight funding cuts

By Glynis Quinlan - 8 May 2017 17

Holy Trinity Primary School

UPDATE: Tanya Plibersek and Bill Shortern live from last night’s event.

Canberra’s Catholic school communities are gearing up to fight proposed cuts to their funding with 500 people expected to attend an urgent public meeting tonight.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, Opposition spokesperson for Education Tanya Plibersek, ACT Liberal Senator Zed Seselja and Member for Canberra Gai Brodtmann are among a host of political heavyweights who have confirmed they will attend the meeting which will be held at St Clare’s College in Griffith tonight at 6 pm.

The meeting has been called to discuss the impact of Federal Government ‘Gonski 2.0’ education funding changes announced last week which the Catholic Education Office estimates could cost ACT parents an extra $3,000 a year in fees for their children.

“It’s really a kick in the guts to our dedicated teachers, our dedicated school leaders, that the Government thinks that it’s okay to reduce funding every year for every Catholic school in the ACT,” Catholic Education Office Archdiocese of Canberra & Goulburn director Ross Fox told the ABC’s Lateline program recently.

In a letter to parents and carers of Catholic school students, Mr Fox said that the funding cuts will come into effect from January 2018 and each year the gap will get worse.

He said the possible impacts could include:

  • An increase to school fees from 1 January 2018, with fees increasing by approximately $3,000 per student per year by 2027.
  • An inability to enhance dedicated programs for children with special needs.
  • No building improvements or expansion of school programs.

“As Parents and Carers in our Catholic school communities we believe that we need to unite to advocate against the Government’s new funding arrangements,” Mr Fox wrote.

Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham disputed the Catholic Education Office’s figures and claims, saying they are “misleading and fundamentally flawed”.

“I can reassure all parents in the ACT that funding for Catholic schools from the Turnbull Government will increase by $2 million over the next four years,” Mr Birmingham said.

“Nationally funding for Catholic schools increases by $1.2 billion over the next four years.

“Our Gonski plan will treat students fairly and equitably across the country, with school funding calculated purely on need and regardless of historical deals, political influence or faith,” he said.

“Why should taxpayer support for a school be more just because it is part of the Catholic school system rather than a low fee independent school?  A school that has the same children, from the same families in the same location deserves the same level of funding.”

What do you think about this issue? Are Canberra’s Catholic schools being treated unfairly? Let us know in the comments below.

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17 Responses to
Canberra Catholic schools gearing up to fight funding cuts
1
bringontheevidence 8:06 am
09 May 17
#

I don’t see what the problem is. The schools are currently over-funded according to the Gonski model, and the relative funding is being reduced over time to correct for the problem.

2
Mysteryman 11:21 am
09 May 17
#

bringontheevidence said :

I don’t see what the problem is. The schools are currently over-funded according to the Gonski model, and the relative funding is being reduced over time to correct for the problem.

True. But the same thing happens with other areas of the budget and people/organisations always whinge about receiving less money regardless of it they deserve it or not.

3
I am a Rabbit™ 11:22 am
09 May 17
#

We shouldn’t be funding private schools at all. Despite the whole “we save the government money” myth, economies of scale and the cost curve mean that private school students to end up costing the government MORE than their public peers. It’s why government funding of private schools is nearly non-existent in the OCED. We’re only joined by the likes of third-world countries which have unstable governments that can’t protect the safety of students in public schools…

Private schools survived before the 1970’s when they did not receive any government funding. They are also prevalent in nearly all OCED where they do not receive government funding. We need slowly reduce private school funding over the next decade until they receives net 0 from the government.

4
chewy14 11:23 am
09 May 17
#

bringontheevidence said :

I don’t see what the problem is. The schools are currently over-funded according to the Gonski model, and the relative funding is being reduced over time to correct for the problem.

The problem for these schools IS the Gonski model.

Under Gonski, private schools get a percentage of the full SRS funding depending on the ability of the school to raise private funds from parents based on their SES background.

So the ACT having a relatively high SES means that the government will give them less funding with parents expected to pick up the difference because they can apparently afford to do so.

Well off parents sending their children to private schools will get significantly less funding, whilst well off parents sending their children to public schools continue to pay not much, if anything.

5
Garfield 11:32 am
09 May 17
#

bringontheevidence said :

I don’t see what the problem is. The schools are currently over-funded according to the Gonski model, and the relative funding is being reduced over time to correct for the problem.

I found an article online from May last year that said total government funding (Fed + State) to public schools was more than $16,000 per student while total government funding to private schools was $9,300 per student. That means private school parents already need to provide $7,000 a year for each kid in order to reach the same level of financial support as public school kids. Reducing or freezing government funding to private schools will force more parents to send their kids to public schools because they won’t be able to afford the increased fees. This would actually drive up the cost of education to the taxpayer – but those extra costs would mostly fall on state governments, so the federal budget would be stronger.

While that article didn’t specifically address funding to different types of private schools, I remember some stats from a few years ago that showed the average Catholic primary school was operating on less money per student than public primary schools after school fees were taken into account.

If I recall correctly, government funding of private schools originally started because Catholic schools didn’t have the funding to carry out repairs & maintenance, and so they temporarily closed the schools and told the parents to send their kids to their local public school. The increased costs that would have hit the public purse due to that massive influx of students forced the government’s hand, and some government funding started flowing to private schools. I wouldn’t be surprised if doing something similar was being considered as an option for the near future. Given that about 35% of students across the country attend private schools, I wonder how the public system would cope with a 50% increase in the number of kids they have to teach?

6
Mysteryman 12:03 pm
09 May 17
#

I am a Rabbit™ said :

We shouldn’t be funding private schools at all. .

I disagree with you entirely. Every student should receive funding from the government, regardless of if their parent’s choose to contribute financially to their children’s schooling.

7
JessP 1:46 pm
09 May 17
#

A small number of schools will be worse off – a majority will be better off. If the schools are already over funded according to the Gonski model why the issue?

I also find the statement “An increase to school fees from 1 January 2018, with fees increasing by approximately $3,000 per student per year by 2027”. I would fully expect that fees would increase by that amount anyway.

This is scaremongering by the Catholic Church and is totally abhorrent. Would they prefer a low socio economic area school who doesn’t have the additional resource of parents able to pay fees to forgo funding so they don’t have to? Give us a break.

For family spooked by the thought of rising fees – send your kids to the public schools. That’s what they are there for.

8
wildturkeycanoe 7:18 pm
09 May 17
#

Private schools should not get any government funding, full stop. By definition, private schools should be funded by the parents or whoever funds the running of the organisation running them. Church organizations already get wonderful tax breaks, then they cry out for more! If the parents can not afford the money to keep them in private school when funding stops, why is it my burden to provide their child with a top notch education. They can put up with mediocrity like the rest of us poor people.

9
Garfield 8:44 am
10 May 17
#

JessP said :

A small number of schools will be worse off – a majority will be better off. If the schools are already over funded according to the Gonski model why the issue?

I also find the statement “An increase to school fees from 1 January 2018, with fees increasing by approximately $3,000 per student per year by 2027”. I would fully expect that fees would increase by that amount anyway.

This is scaremongering by the Catholic Church and is totally abhorrent. Would they prefer a low socio economic area school who doesn’t have the additional resource of parents able to pay fees to forgo funding so they don’t have to?

Give us a break.

For family spooked by the thought of rising fees – send your kids to the public schools. That’s what they are there for.

Have you had a look at the Dept of Education School Funding Estimator? All but 3 ACT private schools are set to receive less funding in 2027 than they’re receiving now, but only a few are over resourced according to the model. That means that parents with kids in schools that are not over resourced will have to find the reduction in government funding plus the entire increase in costs over the next 10 years. As to parents sending their kids to public schools to save paying fees, that will lead to a massive blow out in state education costs while the feds will save money.

10
Garfield 9:04 am
10 May 17
#

wildturkeycanoe said :

Private schools should not get any government funding, full stop. By definition, private schools should be funded by the parents or whoever funds the running of the organisation running them. Church organizations already get wonderful tax breaks, then they cry out for more! If the parents can not afford the money to keep them in private school when funding stops, why is it my burden to provide their child with a top notch education. They can put up with mediocrity like the rest of us poor people.

Don’t you understand that if those kids move to public schools, you’ll have to pay more to support their education than is currently the case? Total government recurrent funding to private schools averages only 58% of the amount per student for government schools. On top of that the private school parents/organisations pay for the construction of new buildings.

11
shadow boxer 10:45 am
10 May 17
#

I had to laugh when my year 9 twins got home yesterday and said the only topic of conversation at school was all the kids asking their friends if they were going to be “Gonski” next year.

12
John Moulis 11:54 am
10 May 17
#

wildturkeycanoe said :

Private schools should not get any government funding, full stop. By definition, private schools should be funded by the parents or whoever funds the running of the organisation running them. Church organizations already get wonderful tax breaks, then they cry out for more! If the parents can not afford the money to keep them in private school when funding stops, why is it my burden to provide their child with a top notch education. They can put up with mediocrity like the rest of us poor people.

When I was at school I was a member of the Melrose Lifting Club. One of the former science labs was a small gym with a few weights and a barbell.

Around ten years ago Marist next door opened the Marcellin Hall and the gym looks like Club Lime with dumbbell racks and a full compliment of gym equipment.

In 2010 Melrose held an open day and reunion and the small gym was gone. There was a new sports building which was just a huge basketball court. I asked the teacher where the gym and weights were and she said “We wanted to put one in but the funding ran out”.

13
bj_ACT 1:34 pm
10 May 17
#

This is such a complex issues of funding and school performances that it is impossible to answer the problem easily. The Government gives a school extra funding if they have a student from a low Socio Economic ABS SA1 (note that every school students address is geocoded by the federal department to determine this score – I think a school needs roughly 80% of address data to be geocoded to a SA1 level to be able to reliably determine a score and appropriate funding per student).

The lowest 25% of SEIFA Disadvantaged areas are considered low SES. But….. The issue for the ACT is that very very few areas qualify under this model, as SEIFA scores are generally very high right across Canberra. This means that a student from Harrington Ct Kambah or Langdon Ave Wanniassa is roughly funded by ACT & Federal Government to the same dollar amount as a kid from Mugga Way Red Hill or Empire Circuit Yarralumla. Surely people can see the issues with the way this model works for Education in Canberra.

The outcome is that schools in Tuggeranong (both Public and Private system) are performing under NAPLAN and PISA much worse than schools in other parts of Canberra. But these underperforming schools only get limited extra funding per student because only a few kids live in Australia level low SES pockets in these suburbs.

A much better model for Canberra that would help reduce the gap between poor School performances in Tuggeranong & West Belconnen (up to the well performing schools in wealthier areas) would be for the ACT Government to adjust funding based on the 25% most disadvantaged kids at the ACT level (not against the most disadvantaged 25% at the Australia level). This may slightly hurt some well performing public schools in rich inner city Canberra but would certainly help poorer performing schools in struggling areas.

Needs based funding is a fair system at the Australia level (The Greens are right on top of this issue I believe, and good to see they are supporting it), but the vagaries of Canberra socio demographics means the model doesn’t suit the ACT student population properly. I imagine Marist will have more kids from Kambah & Wanniassa than Grammar will but won’t be funded extra for them. I also imagine the parents of many Marist Private school kids from Tuggeranong are more middle class than rich, but don’t want to send their kids to the worst performing public schools in Canberra.

14
gazket 6:27 pm
10 May 17
#

I have no problem giving money to Catholic schools. Catholic schools were the only schools to get value from the BER while very state school got shafted.

Case in point – Have you seen the cold steel industrial COLA at Evatt Primary school and how it fits in with its surroundings . Go down the road to the catholic school and look at the beautiful new building they got with their BER money.

15
sportsmum 7:43 pm
10 May 17
#

The Catholic Church is one of the wealthiest in the world. How much of Catholic School funding comes from the Church itself?
Private schools fill a necessary role in the community and even though they are funded, they are also a massive saving to the government because less funding is provided to private school students than to public school students.

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