The parents of 765,000 school children are watching with interest

The Federal Government has just released the Terms of Reference for its review into the way it calculates funding for non-government schools.

The review of the socio-economic status (SES) score methodology – by the newly minted National School Resourcing Board – will be significant for the Catholic sector, the largest non-government provider of schools in the country. One in five Australian children attend a Catholic school.

At stake is a foundational principle of Australian public policy – school choice for parents.

The NSRB therefore needs to produce a more accurate way to assess the capacity of families to contribute to the running costs of their schools – the basis on which the Commonwealth decides how much public funding each non-government school receives.

We all want a fairer system; the current system assigns each non-government school an average SES score based on factors such as parents’ postcodes and their educational level. The problem with this approach is that it treats high and low income families at the same school as though they are able to contribute equally.

The 2011 Gonski report highlighted the shortcomings of this methodology. Even the architect of the model, Professor Stephen Farish, has said it’s not working and needs to be made fairer.

The Commonwealth is the major funder of Catholic system schools and therefore the main reason our schools are able to provide quality, affordable education for most families. Catholic school parents, therefore, have a major stake in the outcome of the review.

The parents of Australia’s 765,000 Catholic school children will be watching with interest.

Dallas McInerney
Catholic Schools NSW