Funding boost for non-government sectors

Close to $5 billion will be pumped into Catholic and independent schools over the next 10 years following an announcement by Prime Minister Scott Morrison and education minister Dan Tehan.

Tehan’s predecessor, Simon Birmingham, spent months negotiating the recent deal after the Coalition’s offer last year was rejected by the Catholic education sector.

The three major elements of the $4.6 billion arrangement are:

  • Interim funding to the tune of $170.8 million in 2019, including guaranteed three per cent funding growth for independent schools
  • From 2020-2029, $3.2 billion will be committed to schools with a new direct measure of parents’ income, replacing the socio-economic score of communities’ capacity
  • From 2020-2029, $1.2 billion will be allocated to government priorities (diversity, regional, rural and remote education) from the Choice and Affordability Fund.

Over the next four years, $1.1 billion of the $4.6 billion will be spent.

The outcome was well received, naturally, by the Independent Schools Council of Australia and the National Catholic Education Commission, with the latter’s acting executive director Ray Collins praising the government for “recognising that the 2017 changes had jeopardised the future of low-fee, low-expenditure schools in areas where they’ve served families for generations”.

What people said…

Former New South Wales education minister Adrian Piccoli described the deal as “pathetic”, claiming the government is “throwing money at the powerful and well-connected”

Australian Education Union federal president Correna Haythorpe labelled the package “a cynical attempt by the Morrison government to buy votes at the next election at the expense of students in our public schools”

Labor’s education spokesperson Tanya Plibersek said it was “a completely inadequate response to the $17b cut from skills over the next decade”

Morrison defended the decision, claiming the government "has always been the principal funder of non-government schools", and believes the additional funding will be reconciled at the mid-year economic and fiscal outlook in December.

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