The former Minister for Education, Adrian Piccoli’s views on the funding models used by Catholic school systems in NSW are entirely misplaced.
Dr Dan White, the Executive Director of Sydney Catholic Schools, has today hit back at the former Minister’s “poorly informed and out-of-date understanding”.
“Adrian Piccoli was one of the finest, long-term education ministers that NSW has seen in many years,” Dr White said. “Since losing his portfolio however, it is apparent he hasn’t kept up-to-date with the funding models in the Catholic sector.
“Following a system-wide review after the introduction of a needs-based funding model under the ‘Gonski 1.0’ funding plan, NSW Catholic dioceses directed a greater amount of additional funding to the more needed rural and remote Catholic schools.
“Since 2015, a progressively concerted effort has been undertaken to redistribute more funding to country areas. The latest 2017 figures show that the funding per student in country dioceses is on average 25-50% higher than their Sydney counterparts,” Dr White added.
In the Minister’s electoral region, in the Diocese of Wagga Wagga, Catholic school students have received $13,040 in funding per student compared to only $10,395 in Sydney – a difference of more than 25%. Similarly, students living in very remote and disadvantaged areas in the Wilcannia-Forbes diocese, were supported up to $16,025 per child – a 54% increase compared to their “city cousins”.
Dr White also cautioned Mr Piccoli and other commentators on the dangers of selectively comparing the funding data from individual schools.
“There are many variables affecting the funding to an individual school from school size, to the level of teaching experience of staff, the percentage of children with special needs and the fundraising efforts of parents. All of these factors combined make comparisons between schools very problematic,” Dr White said.
“As the leaders of a system of schools, both the former minister and myself know, that the first and most important ‘need’ that has to be met is to ensure that there is a dedicated, high-quality teacher in every classroom from Bondi to Bourke.”
“Catholic educational system leaders are making a whole-hearted and realistic endeavor to meet the needs of all children across the state,” Dr White added.
Bernadette Bain (02) 9568 8223