‘One size cannot fit all!’ – Federal Government fails to understand Catholic systemic schools

Sydney Catholic Schools (SCS) Executive Director, Dr Dan White, today slammed the federal
government for their complete failure to understand the nature and mission of low-fee systemic
Catholic schools in Sydney.

“Minister Birmingham’s simplest rhetoric that a ‘one size fits all’ funding formula is the fairest
and most equitable solution for education funding is simply naïve and completely out of touch
from the reality of how our low-fee Catholic systemic schools provide quality education to over
70,000 Sydney children,” Dr White said.

“The Minister’s determination to fund systemic Catholic schools in an individual manner similar
to high cost, independent schools, is a grave mistake.

“In the spirit of St Mary MacKillop, Catholic systemic schools have always endeavoured to
support and ensure that the most marginalised and disadvantaged families have access to a
Catholic education; regardless of their postcode in Sydney.”

Dr White expressed concern about the assumptions in the funding formula with respect to
expectations that families in more affluent areas have a much greater capacity to pay for their
child’s education.

“Unlike high fee independent colleges, Catholic systemic schools have always kept fees to the
bare minimum required to deliver an education – comparable with State schools in all areas of
Sydney”, said Dr White.

“Our families are struggling to make ends meet, especially due to the mortgage stress of the
Sydney housing market. Being expected to contribute financially to the level of elite schools is
simply beyond their means. The government’s policy will not only result in significant fee
increases but potentially will force some families to seek enrolment in the already overcrowded
State education sector.

“By refusing to consult with the Catholic sector, the Minister has failed to show any
appreciation that the vast majority of Sydney Catholic schools have historically been
committed to working as a collaborative system of schools to provide access to Catholic
education across all sectors of community at the lowest possible cost to families.”

“We totally support the concept of needs-based funding, but simplistic assumptions that all
non-government schools operate in a similar manner is erroneous. I call on the Minister to carefully re-think his policy position and begin detailed consultation with Catholic school
leaders,” Dr White said.

Media Contact:
Bernadette Bain (02) 9568 8223

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