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Government to spend $3.75 million to grow capacity at five private schools

Lachlan Roberts 26 July 2019 58
private school funding

The ACT Government has allocated $3.75 million to upgrade infrastructure at five private schools. File photo.

ACT Council of Parents and Citizens Associations have questioned the Government’s commitment to public schools in the Belconnen region which are at breaking point after the government announced it will spend $3.75 million to grow capacity at five private schools.

The ACT Government has allocated $3.75 million to upgrade infrastructure at Emmaus Christian School, Holy Family Primary School, St Thomas Aquinas Primary School, Taqwa School and Blue Gum Community School as part of its infrastructure grant program.

Emmaus Christian School has been allocated a $781,682 grant to assist with the relocation and upgrade of its Design Technology Centre, Gowries’s Holy Family Primary School will receive $582,816 to construct a two-classroom block while Blue Gum Community School has been allocated $500,000 to refurbish and extend two existing preschool classrooms.

Taqwa School in Spence will receive $885,502 for the construction of a new preschool building while St Thomas Aquinas Primary School in Charnwood has been given $1 million to assist with the construction of a new three-room early learning centre.

ACT Council of Parents and Citizens Associations executive officer Terry Sanders said there is a growing need for another primary school in Belconnen and believes increasing capacity at three Belconnen private schools will not abate the issue.

“The money that is being given to these schools is all well and good but the issue in the Belconnen area and most other areas in Canberra is the growing demand for more capacity in public schools,” Mr Sanders told Region Media.

“There is a growing need in the private sector but the public sector is the one that is growing the fastest. A lot of these schools are at capacity.

“The need for a new primary school in the Belconnen area has been identified and we need a boost in the Belconnen area. The majority of public funding should go towards public schools.

“We believe that any spare funding that is available should be going into putting in more public schools.”

During the 2016 election, the ACT Government committed to providing $15 million for infrastructure grant funding over four years for non-government schools, consistent with needs-based funding principles. The grant is on top of the ACT Government’s $85 million investment for public school infrastructure upgrades that were funded in the 2017 Budget.

ACT Education Minister Yvette Berry said applications were assessed with a focus on upgrades that increase capacity and amenity of schools and which improve accessibility to disadvantaged groups.

“These grants will provide support to non-government schools to increase capacity and improve facilities for the next generation of students in the ACT,” Ms Berry said.

“The ACT Government is committed to continuing to improve accessibility and quality of school facilities across the Territory to provide good educational outcomes to all students in the ACT.”


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58 Responses to Government to spend $3.75 million to grow capacity at five private schools
2manyquestions 2manyquestions 6:29 pm 30 Aug 19

Government investment in ACT schools, whether private or public, is good for ACT kids. Yet, reading recent news reports about alleged governance issues in private schools – such as at Brindabella – for the government to ensure it spends tax payers’ money well, they could consider explicitly linking any funding to good governance practices (for eg. legislating for at least 2 independent members on school boards).

LanyonRegis LanyonRegis 8:46 am 02 Aug 19

The private school system should be tolerated but not indulged. This funding should have been given to ACT government schools.

Paul Paul 5:56 pm 01 Aug 19

One simple point and please investigate this yourself.
With the Catholic schools that we are talking about here, ( not exclusive expensive high fee private schools) tax payers still save a substantial amount of money per student attending non government schools.
Approx 40% of the overall cost is saved per student in taxes as parents cover this with their school fees.
It’s an inconvenient truth to many people and in the ACT, more than most areas, there are many families just as well off as others with the choice of school they attend (especially mainstream non government schools)

Hamish Sinclair Hamish Sinclair 1:07 pm 30 Jul 19

Its really proving hard to spot the difference between ACT labour govt an liberal philosophy these days

Victoria Robertson Victoria Robertson 6:12 am 30 Jul 19

Wow...the government has responsibility for all schools regardless of whether it’s public or private. The kids at these schools need infrastructure just like everyone else’s kids. I also think the use of private school in this article might be a bit misleading and triggering people. These schools are small and not in the same league the much larger, better funded private schools. I drive past one of these every day - I’ll be glad to see the little school grow.

Daniel Duncan Daniel Duncan 8:22 pm 29 Jul 19

Why not put that $ to public schools?

Bron Robertson Bron Robertson 8:21 pm 29 Jul 19

Cody Catherine St Thomas ELC

    Catherine Nilsson Catherine Nilsson 9:09 pm 29 Jul 19

    They told me about this at our interview :)

Craig Neiberding Craig Neiberding 6:14 pm 29 Jul 19

Great outcome for Canberra kids :-)

Dory Johns Dory Johns 5:52 pm 29 Jul 19

Oh that's right, Barr shut down all those public schools and now ...

    Ryan Daniel Ryan Daniel 8:18 pm 29 Jul 19

    Dory Johns presumably because more and more people moved to private schools. It saves the ACT Government a lot of money that way.

Cheryl Gay Cheryl Gay 5:46 pm 29 Jul 19

That’s not the ACT government’s responsibility. Their responsibility is to the public schools in the ACT.

Anthony Grice Anthony Grice 3:43 pm 29 Jul 19

Just to be clear, we as tax payers are accepting that upgrading the buildings of privately owned business's is OK to be funded by us? Drop the class warfare B.S just for this once, it's not about supplementing education of your child due to the lack of public school funding, it is about infrastructure.

Gabi Kuta Gabi Kuta 2:57 pm 29 Jul 19

Private schools should not be getting government funds.

    Simone Woods Simone Woods 3:35 pm 29 Jul 19

    Gabi why not? I work hard and pay my taxes. I also send my children to a catholic school. Why don’t my kids deserve any government funding towards their education?

    Gabi Kuta Gabi Kuta 3:36 pm 29 Jul 19

    If you want the government to pay for their education, send them to a public school.

    Ryan Daniel Ryan Daniel 8:12 pm 29 Jul 19

    Gabi Kuta should Simone be allowed a refund on her portion of taxes paid that would otherwise have gone to her kid then? If not, why not?

    Gabi Kuta Gabi Kuta 8:15 pm 29 Jul 19

    Why should my taxes pay for her kid while it attends private school?

    Ryan Daniel Ryan Daniel 8:43 pm 29 Jul 19

    Gabi Kuta significantly less so. Both of u pay taxes right? Both of u have kids. She’s paying more towards your kid than you are hers, right? So what’s the issue?

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 6:23 pm 30 Jul 19

    Ryan Daniel With that logic, people without children, or with children no longer attending school should get a refund too. Bad logic.

    Peter Hatfield Peter Hatfield 8:29 pm 30 Jul 19

    Nor should public schools. Why should I pay for your kid to attend a government school that costs more to run and teaches values I do not agree with.

    Gabi Kuta Gabi Kuta 9:05 pm 30 Jul 19

    Taxes are for providing education, health and infrastructure.

    But a for profit school has no business getting government funds when it already charges parents stupid amounts of money for the privilege of sending their kids there.

    Ryan Daniel Ryan Daniel 9:09 pm 30 Jul 19

    Julie Macklin I was extending her own logic out actually, to prove a point. She’s saying she doesn’t want her tax dollars going to someone else’s kid, just because they choose a different type of school for them. They both pay taxes and both have kids. Simone gets less benefit out of those taxes than Gabi does. Simone isn’t the one complaining here, Gabi is. So you agree then that it’s fair that our taxes go to both school types in the manner that they already do? Glad I could paint the picture for everyone and we all now agree to just get over it because it makes sense to do it this way.

James Forge James Forge 2:54 pm 29 Jul 19

Australian politicians like to use the mantra “the (US, UK) does this so we should also do this”

Except when it comes to funding private schools

Why is this so? Probably because very few politicians send their kids to public schools

Private schools getting government funding is a form of subsidising the more wealthy people in our community at the cost of the less wealthy

Yo can’t say that public schools will be overwhelmed if government funding is ceased for private schools when there have been so many public school closures in the ACT in the last 30 years

Reduce the private school funding by 5% a year until it is all going to government schools in 20 years to reduce the shock

    Peter Hatfield Peter Hatfield 8:27 pm 30 Jul 19

    In the UK the private school system is largely elite; in Australia we have a mix of elite expensive schools and a lower cost Catholic system that saves the state money and has since its inception served very well lower socio economic Catholic Australians, helping them to compete for work, and ensuring Catholics did not succumb to entrenched inter-generational poverty. If you phased out state-aid you would have a higher tax burden, or more likely, under-funded state schools overcrowded with former Catholic kids, with a UK-style elite minority affording the full fees. And you would deny Australians public support for an education for their kids that is not based on your secular values.

    The reality is those Australians who do value private schools vote and pay taxes - that is why politicians respond and put some public funding into private schools. People who do not like it can go and live in UK or the US if that is what they want, and enjoy the social harmony of those countries.

    James Forge James Forge 8:31 pm 30 Jul 19

    Peter Hatfield It works in Britain and as I said reduce it by 5% per year and divert it straight to government schools so that they don't suddenly get overcrowded by former private school students thus making the change gradual.

bj_ACT bj_ACT 2:48 pm 29 Jul 19

I just wonder how much better education, social equity, city design and Canberra’s demography split would be if the ACT Government had managed the school closures better and provided location based incentives for young families.

They closed three primary schools, two pre schools and a High School in the suburb of Kambah. It’s been an Education and social disaster for the area.

Some Belconnen schools that like Kambah were slated for closure, got a last minute political reprieve and stayed open. These Belconnen schools are now at full capacity.

If Mr Barr had developed incentives and infrastructure for young families to move to Kambah and other parts of the city that had schools close, then he wouldn’t have to be doing this kind of private school funding for the full schools in Belconnen.

We need to learn how to better manage the demography of our city and ensure an even spread of services, support and facilities right across the Canberra. There’s seems to be no long term vision for canberra outside of the central spine.

Jodie SB Jodie SB 2:19 pm 29 Jul 19

Geez some real Einsteins out and about today.... Daniel R Burns

    Daniel R Burns Daniel R Burns 2:38 pm 29 Jul 19

    Jodie Burns $3 million for us is quite a lot but for a school it’s peanuts and a drop in the ocean.

    Jodie SB Jodie SB 2:41 pm 29 Jul 19

    Daniel R Burns Some of the arguments on here are ridiculous.... ALL children are eligible for funding for education, those in Private school pay extra for the extra benefits.... that doesn’t mean their children aren’t entitled to government funding. I read a lot of salty people who can’t afford the benefits of a private education...

    Ryan Daniel Ryan Daniel 8:17 pm 29 Jul 19

    Jodie Burns I think people imagine everyone at a private school has millionaire parents just raking it in and somehow automatically get gifted with amazing grades. So they think the whole thing is unfair because they think they can’t afford private schooling. None of that is true however.

    Jodie SB Jodie SB 7:45 am 30 Jul 19

    Ryan Daniel I’d believe that....

Jackie Fuller Jackie Fuller 1:10 pm 29 Jul 19

I just love how all the public parents have a hissy fit when something is given to the private schools .....you won't pay for your kids education and you want stuff for free and you cry when our school gets it.....🤣🤣🤣 thanks government....for putting my tax money to good use!.

    Gabi Kuta Gabi Kuta 2:58 pm 29 Jul 19

    Jackie Fuller what's the point of a privately funded school getting government funds?

    Cheryl Gay Cheryl Gay 5:48 pm 29 Jul 19

    Jackie Fuller that is what public schools are about. Private schools get plenty of Federal government support, in fact generally more than the public sector gets.

    Melissa Agius Melissa Agius 5:53 pm 29 Jul 19

    Jackie Fuller I agree with you. And the comment we get more funding is a croc clearly people don’t understand where the money goes from the govt. I have a child In a Catholic school who is struggling and so he can get the additional assistance he needs we are contemplating public school because we can’t access the same services in our school.

    Ryan Daniel Ryan Daniel 8:10 pm 29 Jul 19

    Gabi Kuta as someone mentioned above, it costs 40% less per kid to keep the kids in private education than it does in public. So unless you want to pay more in taxes, why not let people put their kids in private schools for less? Leaves more money for public schools and saves others money. Win win? What’s the down side?

Nate Jennings Nate Jennings 11:30 am 29 Jul 19

Stop funding private businesses

Peter McArdle Peter McArdle 10:40 am 29 Jul 19

The per capita contribution by government (federal and territory) to the education of a child in a systemic Catholic school in Canberra is about 60% of the per capita cost of a child in a government school. Do the maths. Each child in a Catholic school saves the government (and thus the taxpayer) 40% of the cost of their education.

This whinging about funding non-government schools is a throwback to the sectarian bigotry of a bygone era. Australia in 2019 should be better than that.

    Mitchell Whyte Mitchell Whyte 10:55 am 29 Jul 19

    I have been trying to tell people the same thing!

    Lexie Donald Lexie Donald 11:22 am 29 Jul 19

    And sending your kid to catholic school when u dont go to mass or church or even identify as christian is what in 2019? A chance to show off your suv???

    Warwick Penn Bradly Warwick Penn Bradly 11:58 am 29 Jul 19

    Peter McArdle I’m happy for us to put in extra for public education for the percentage that would move across from private to public after public funding of private was cut.

    Peter Hatfield Peter Hatfield 12:08 pm 29 Jul 19

    That's a discussion between the school and the parents.All parents who use the systemic system save government's money. What they believe is no one else's business.

    Peter Hatfield Peter Hatfield 12:15 pm 29 Jul 19

    Daniel Königs I do not see your point. Peter has pointed out systemic Catholic schools save money and that allows more funding to prop up the inefficient government schools. Criticising private schools that deliver a public benefit andwithout disbenifits is divisive and ideological. We deserve a better informed public contribution from representatives of a group that wants to be accepted as professionals.

    Peter Hatfield Peter Hatfield 8:43 pm 30 Jul 19

    Warwick Penn Bradly You might be happy to pay more tax for a poorer outcome but the rest of Australia has the sense not to. How about we start means testing government education and then you can pay the extra your so keen to pay.

Daniel Königs Daniel Königs 10:17 am 29 Jul 19

It’s a pretty simple concept right? Send your kids to public school if you want public funding. If you think public school isn’t good enough for your kids, then their private education should be privately funded.

    Tony Morris Tony Morris 10:36 am 29 Jul 19

    Daniel Königs You need to some research. The public sector couldn't cope nor afford to have all the students in the private schools in the public system.

    Warwick Penn Bradly Warwick Penn Bradly 11:59 am 29 Jul 19

    Tony Morris it used to. No reason it can’t again.

    Mary Kingsford Mary Kingsford 1:02 pm 29 Jul 19

    Warwick Penn Bradly there has at all stages of this country been private schooling.

    Tony Morris Tony Morris 6:15 pm 29 Jul 19

    Warwick Penn Bradly Pardon? Geez I'm 50 and I can recall private/Catholic schools around when I was in primary.

Amanda Evans Amanda Evans 10:02 am 29 Jul 19

Don't we have a homeless problem in Canberra that could do with that funding?

    Gwg Heldon Gwg Heldon 10:06 am 29 Jul 19

    Amanda Evans the homeless, road, public schools, sporting grounds, lack of footpaths..........

    Francisco Antonio Vega Francisco Antonio Vega 11:48 am 29 Jul 19

    well think about it this way, a quality education leads to a quality life. Increase in education decreases the chances of people being homeless

    Jasper Roo Jasper Roo 3:20 pm 29 Jul 19

    Amanda or...you know, educate children? 🙄

    Ryan Daniel Ryan Daniel 8:15 pm 29 Jul 19

    Amanda Evans it’s not like these kids would somehow magically educate themselves for free without any funding. Look at where all the private schools are. Most aren’t filled with kids with super rich parents like people seem to assume. So they’d be straight into the public system, costing 40% more to educate. So there’d be less funding for other things, not more.

    Peter Hatfield Peter Hatfield 8:31 pm 30 Jul 19

    We do not fund housing out of education funding. If we did why not take it from government schools?

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