The facts about Catholic school funding
Executive director of schools in Diocese of Parramatta, Greg Whitby said recent claims made by the Australian Education Union (AEU) that non-government schools, including Catholic schools, receive the majority share of federal school funding are misleading.
'Such claims are not new and continually misrepresent the facts about government funding of schools,’ said Greg. ‘The reality is that state governments are the primary source of recurrent funding for schools and provide approximately 93* percent of public school costs but only about 17 percent of non-government schools costs.’
He said the federal government provides top up assistance of approximately 7 percent to public schools and about 53 percent to non-government schools resulting in the need for non-government schools to charge school fees to address the gap.
In real terms, Catholic schools on average receive $7,685 per student in government funding (both state and federal) per year. This is more than 30 percent less than the $11,874 per student funding allocated to public schools by state and federal governments.**
Greg said the collection of school fees by non-government schools is commonly used as an argument against government funding.
‘In Catholic systemic schools, school fees are kept as low as possible to ensure Catholic education is affordable for our families, and as such, only partly contribute to the funding gap,’ he said.
In Parramatta Diocesan schools tuition fees for 2010 range from $1,110 per year for primary schooling to $1986 per year for upper secondary schooling. Catholic school families contribute to the building levy to assist with capital works and major refurbishment projects. School-based fees may also be charged for additional resources and school supplies.
Catholic schools offer substantial discounts for siblings attending Catholic schools. A 25 percent discount is offered for the second child attending; a 50 percent discount for the third child attending; and no fees are payable for the fourth or subsequent children attending.
‘Catholic schools rely heavily on government funding,’ said Greg. ‘Without the state and federal government’s financial support, Catholic schools would simply not exist. We are grateful for the support of both the Australian and New South Wales governments for their continuing support of Catholic schools, which is vital if we are to continue to serve the church’s mission to provide quality Catholic education to our families, now and in the future.’
*Source: Dowling, A (2007) Australia's School Funding System, Camberwell: Australian Council for Educational Research.
** Source: Productivity Commission figures (2009)
« Return to news list