Budget pledge needed

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SCHOOL funding has been the big news story over the past fortnight.

Just before last week’s Federal budget, the Turnbull Government announced a new funding model that would take effect from the beginning of 2018.

The Prime Minister also announced another education inquiry – Gonski 2.0 – which will explore the best ways to use government funding to get the best outcomes for students.

Overall, the new model provides an increase in funding over the next 10 years.

However, Catholic education leaders have been critical of the announcement for a couple of reasons:

Funding for Catholic schools will increase at a slower rate compared to government and independent schools; A new mechanism is being introduced that will result in some low-fee paying Catholic schools receiving less funding than currently; There was no consultation with Catholic leaders about the changes.

The lack of detail in the new model has created a great deal of confusion and fear that some Catholic schools may have to increase their fees in the years ahead to meet what some modelling suggests will be a major funding shortfall.

It is disappointing that we are once again back arguing about how much funding each education system should receive. A school’s postcode or the suburb that a student lives in should not determine how the school is resourced – funding should be based on need. School funding should always be about equity, not politics.

The Diocese of Parramatta educates around one in four western Sydney students. I am well aware of the sacrifices that our parents make to give their child a Catholic education. We have no desire to increase fees, outside of the normal annual cost of living increases.

What we need right now is a clear commitment from the Federal Government that students in low-fee paying Catholic schools will not be negatively impacted by any new funding model. Then we can get on with doing what we do best – educating young people. Is it too much to ask?