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School funding shake-up could leave parents no choice but to leave the Catholic sector

Carmel Nash

Funding concerns: Queensland P&F Association executive officer Carmel Nash. Photo: Emilie Ng.

CATHOLIC students may be forced into Queensland’s state school system if the Federal Government goes ahead with a 10-year plan to shake up funding for schools.

Executive officer of the Queensland Catholic schools Federation of Parents’ and Friends’ Associations Carmel Nash expressed concern the shake-up could take away choices for families.

“Parents are the end bearers of the cost,” Mrs Nash said.

“If there is to be a fee increase, it has huge impact on families.

“I think Australian education has been built on choice.

“Families already make sacrifices to pay school fees, and make the choices to do without other things, so if they take away that choice then that’s difficult.”

The Quality Schools Initiative unveiled by Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham on May 2 will increase the Government’s recurrent funding for schools by 75 per cent nationally over the next decade, with schools receiving $18.5 billion in funding next year.

However details of the plan have not been rolled out, leaving many education sector professionals critical.

Mrs Nash, who sent three children to Catholic schools, said the major shake-up was unprecedented and came without consultation.

“Nothing. (There was) not only no consultation with the National Catholic Education Commission but no consultation with families whatsoever,” she said.

Mrs Nash said the proposed would not only raise difficult choices for parents, but it would end up costing the Government more money because they fund government schools at a higher rate than Catholic schools.

Under the current schools funding model, federal funding is received by state and regional Catholic systems to distribute to meet local needs.

“It is a system which allows some outback schools to remain open,” Mrs Nash said.

“I am not saying we are going to close schools, I am just saying that our group funding system works really well in Queensland.

“Every Catholic school is in group funding in Queensland and so it really is a system that is for the good of all.

“Barcaldine, Quilpie, Blackall, Cunnamulla – all of those smaller schools obviously cost more to run and those parents who have chosen a Catholic education, we want them to maintain that choice.”

Details of the new federal funding model are expected to be presented to the National Catholic Education Commission which will meet later this month.

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