Returning for Term 2

24-APR-2017

I hope that your Easter celebrations were full of joy. As Christians we celebrate our belief that, beyond all expectations, God raised Jesus from the dead. Love and life have triumphed over evil and death. While we are bombarded in the media with images and stories of suffering and death, of malice and evil, Easter reminds us to hope. Christ is risen! This hope and joy continue as we celebrate the Easter season over the 50 days until Pentecost. It is a time for deepening our understanding that we are a resurrection people, people of the light, people of hope and love and joy. As Archbishop Hart wrote in his column, ‘The Final Word’: ‘Let’s pray that we “catch joy” and spread it throughout our Archdiocese and beyond!’

Another AEU report, another attack on Catholic schools

In early April, the Australian Education Union (AEU) released analysis of the My School data for all Australian schools. As reported in The Age, it will come as no surprise that the analysis found that ‘mid-range Catholic and independent schools received more federal and state government funding per student than similar state schools in 2015’. As I told reporters at the time, the analysis does not compare apples with apples.

The AEU’s analysis overly simplifies the My School data to appeal to its own bias. Where the analysis is most misleading is that it only compares schools by ICSEA score. It does not compare them based on whether schools are primary schools or secondary schools (secondary students cost more, so attract more government funding). Nor does it compare them based on their enrolments of students with disability (SWD) (which increase school costs and funding – but this is not measured in ICSEA).

Simply put, comparing Catholic secondary schools with government primary schools if they have similar ICSEA scores is misleading.

This also makes the trends from 2009 to 2015 misleading. From 2009 to 2015, secondary enrolments increased faster in Catholic schools than in government schools. In addition, there was higher growth in the number of students with disability in Catholic schools than in government schools from 2009 to 2015. Because secondary students and SWD both attract additional funding, these trends caused funding (per student) in Catholic schools to rise faster than in government schools. The analysis deliberately hides these facts to further the agenda of the AEU.

It is true that some Catholic schools might receive more money than ‘similar’ state schools, but AEU only needed to look at school ICSEA scores to understand why. As a system we have decided, in consultation with you, to allocate more funding to these schools because they have high needs. Catholic schools with high ICSEA scores receive less funding than ‘similar’ state schools.

What the AEU analysis has uncovered is that our funding formula is more ‘needs-based’ than the funding formula used by the Victorian Government for state schools.

At the time of the report, the state and federal education ministers were coming together to discuss school funding. All the AEU has left the ministers with is a deeply divisive issue without any clear direction of where they need to be heading.