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Funding private schools a public good

By Stephen Elder - posted Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Watching students, teachers and parents enjoy the annual celebrations of Catholic Education Week has reinforced the short sighted nature of recent criticism of our system.

A report detailing the need for Victorian schools to accommodate an extra 100,000 plus students over the next 10 years to meet the effect of a 2008 baby boom claimed that Catholic schools would not be able to shoulder their share of the demand, placing even more pressure on government schools.

This is patently untrue.


Catholic education is well down the path to further improve existing facilities and build more new schools in Melbourne’s growth corridors because record numbers of families are already turning to Catholic schools to provide for their children’s future.

Another reason those growth plans are in play is the confidence and certainty that came with a commitment last year for guaranteed Victorian Government funding.

To those associated with the sectarian discourse surrounding a vote to forever legislate Catholic school funding at 25% of the cost of a state school education I say, stop looking for an argument and study the facts.

Both major parties took this policy to the polls at last year’s election in the interests of parents seeking a high quality and affordable educational choice.

Premier Daniel Andrews and Opposition Leader Matthew Guy have stood by those commitments because it is not only right, it is fair and it is reasonable.

Overlooked in the blinkered stance of some commentators is the fact that without a strong Catholic system many public schools would buckle under the strain of larger class sizes while increased teacher workloads would inevitably lead to a decrease in results.


The latest MySchool data shows that if government was forced to pick up the cost of educating the one in four  students who attend the 493 Catholic schools in Victoria the bill would be huge. Based on current figures, close to $3billion over the school-life of a child who began prep this year.


And that brings us to the 25 per cent figure the Catholic-state school linkage agreement is built on.

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About the Author

Stephen Elder is the Executive Director of Catholic Education.

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