Letter to the Editor of The Age on 12 October 2016

13-OCT-2016

Your report (Funds flow to Catholic education, 12/10) proves you can prove anything if you cherry-pick the right data. Your ‘analysis’ forgets some fundamental fact about Catholic school funding.

Catholic school systems receive a single government grant which we reallocate according to individual school needs. It’s an approach that was recommended by the Gonski Report in 2011.

Interestingly, school funding data shows us that we allocate a far higher proportion of our funding to additional school and student needs loadings than the state government system; 25 per cent compared to 17.

Picking on a small school like Our Lady of Lourdes, Prahran East, indicates a lack of understanding around the concept of economies of scale, meaning the system needs to provide higher per pupil funding to smaller schools.

Your analysis also missed the higher proportion of students with disability at the school in 2014, which necessitated hiring an additional teacher. Instead of ignoring the students, we increased our per pupil amount to the school to support the cost.

The proof is in the pudding. Last month Our Lady of Lourdes was ranked in the 50 most improved primary schools across all sectors in the country. We’re not going to shy away from our approach.

I look forward to your next piece of analysis. Maybe look at how wealthy cohorts at government selective entry schools are being funded at higher levels than their local government school counterparts. I’m sure parents at Berwick Secondary College, with an ICSEA score of 1006, would like an explanation as to why the well-off students next door at the selective-entry Nossal High School (with an incredibly high ICSEA of 1135), receive more funding than their kids do.

Mr Stephen Elder, Executive Director, Catholic Education Commission of Victoria