Discussions are continuing to clarify significant justice issues which remain around the recent Coalition government’s ‘Gonski 2.0’ funding model. Education Minister, Senator Simon Birmingham in his most recent letter to schools states “we believe that every student deserves fair funding support…” and so “the Australian Government’s Quality Schools funding reforms will give every student in every school Commonwealth funding on a genuine needs-basis” (1 June, 2017).
In view of his stated commitment to fair funding, we are disturbed by the apparent disparity in allocations across schools, including significant variation within our own region, which leads us to question the way in which the SES defines any community’s capacity to contribute. And while our funds are distributed via the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria, overall it remains the case that the sector will experience a significant decrease over the next ten years. While every effort will be made to further contain our costs, this represents a serious challenge for parents seeking access to Catholic education.
Furthermore, we are very concerned at the changes in how the disability loading will be calculated. In his own words earlier in the year, Senator Birmingham disputed the reliability of the data from Nationally Consistent Collection of Data on Students with Disability (NCCD) stating that ”there’s much more work to be done …..to ensure that (the NCCD data) truly is nationally consistent.” (ABC News Report, 16 Feb. 2017).
While the National Catholic Education Commission paper of May 2017 recognises worthy aspirations within the current funding proposal, it notes fundamental issues not only in the SES methodology but in the base funding index which will apply after 2020.
We all need a higher degree of confidence in this new funding model, and so, I look forward to discuss these with our federal representative Jason Wood, MP when he visits our College the week after next. In the meantime, I encourage all members of our community to register their concern and support efforts to negotiate a fairer deal for our schools.
Mary Fitz-Gerald, Principal