Funding plan prompts religion fight

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Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told David Koch that his party aims to fulfil Gonski’s vision with the Government’s plan to lift education spending by $19 billion. Courtesy: Sunrise

The Turnbull government say changes to education funding will fix longstanding inconsistencies between schools. Picture: News Corp

EDUCATION Minister Simon Birmingham has rejected suggestions Catholic schools are being singled out in a major schools funding overhaul.

Catholic schools responded angrily to the Prime Minister’s announcement yesterday that Australian schools would get an $18.6 billion funding boost over the next decade but about 4 per cent of schools would receive a reduction in Commonwealth funding.

Under the new model, which will transition Commonwealth funding for public and private schools to David Gonski’s needs-based model, 353 schools will receive less federal funding from 2018 to 2027 than they were expecting.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham has rejected suggestions Catholic schools are being singled out. Picture: AAP

Education Minister Simon Birmingham has rejected suggestions Catholic schools are being singled out. Picture: AAPSource:AAP

More than 9000 schools across the nation will receive a funding boost however.

The Turnbull Government expects only 24 schools will have a real reduction in funding and has signalled they are likely to be “overfunded” non-government schools.

It’s believed Loreto Kirribili and Monte Sant Angelo Mercy College in NSW and St Paul’s College and Melbourne Grammar School in Victoria will be among those that will receive less funding.

David Gonski welcomed the changes alongside the Prime Minister yesterday. Picture: AAP

David Gonski welcomed the changes alongside the Prime Minister yesterday. Picture: AAPSource:AAP

SCHOOLS PLAN IS ‘FULLY FUNDED’

Malcolm Turnbull has laughed off Opposition criticism that the funding proposal was $22 billion less than what Labor was proposing to pour into schools.

The Prime Minister told Channel Seven’s Sunrise program this morning the Coalition’s plan for schools was “fully funded” while Labor’s former proposal was not.

“The Labor Party never had the money,” Mr Turnbull said.

“Colin Barnett, the West Australian Premier at the time, said at the time it was obvious they didn’t have the money, it was Monopoly money.

“What we are proposing here, what we are setting out is fully funded.

“It is consistent and fair, this is the Gonski vision.”

Only a small number of private schools would receive less money by 2027 and it would not be a lot less, the Prime Minister said.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is aiming to push the schools funding changes through Parliament this year. Picture: News Corp

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is aiming to push the schools funding changes through Parliament this year. Picture: News CorpSource:News Corp Australia

CATHOLIC SCHOOLS WARN OF FEE INCREASES

After the announcement, the National Catholic Education Commission quickly warned families could expect fee increases from the funding changes.

It also slammed the Goverment for not consulting with the sector about the changes.

Speaking on ABC radio this morning, Minister Birmingham said Catholic schools were not being singled out under the new model.

“Everybody is being treated under a consistent funding model,” Senator Birmingham said.

“Non-government schools, whatever their faith, whatever their background will be treated in exactly the same way.

“Catholic schools will receive over the next four years estimated growth in funding of $1.2 billion or around 3.7 per cent per student.

“That contrasts with government schools that will receive funding growth of about $2.2 billion or 5.2 per cent per student and independent schools receiving funding growth of $1.4 billion or about 4.2 per cent per student.

The Catholic Education Commission has warned parents to expect fee increases. Picture: iStock

The Catholic Education Commission has warned parents to expect fee increases. Picture: iStockSource:Supplied

“Because of all the inconsistencies in current funding deals everyone is starting at a different point — over ten years we want to transition them to the same end point of consistency but there is absolutely real growth in funding for Catholic Education and small parish schools in this model.”

Senator Birmingham also rejected suggestions the Turnbull Government had backflipped on its funding stance after months of saying more money was not the solution to Australia’s declining standing in international rankings.

“More money in and of itself is not the answer but more money will help us to fix a broken model of funding that has so many inconsistencies and is riddled with differential treatment for sectors and special groups in different states,” he said.

He said a second report by David Gonski would focus on how Australia could turn around schools and “make sure that declining international performance in literacy, numeracy, maths and science is actually addressed and fixed for the future”.

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