‘Turn letters into legislation,’ Mr Birmingham!

Dr Dan White, the Executive Director of Sydney Catholic Schools, has called on the
Minister of Education, Senator Simon Birmingham, to turn his letters to Catholic school
communities which attempt to reassure parents about potential school fee increases,
into clearly worded amendments in the proposed Gonski 2.0 legislation.

“Contrary to reports in The Sydney Morning Herald today, parents have expressed
great anxiety about potential fee increases and their fears about losing the opportunity
for their child to attend an affordable, low-fee Catholic school,” Dr White said.

Over the past week, the Archdiocese of Sydney has conducted parent forums in five
Sydney electorates that have been attended by more than 1,200 concerned parents.

In Sydney suburbs classified with middle to high incomes, parents were shocked to
see the potential drop in funding for their school if they were funded as a stand-alone
school as indicated in the Government’s online School Funding Estimator.

“Simple mathematics indicate that the estimated government grants for these schools
would not cover even the basic cost of putting a quality teacher in front of every class
of children without a significant lift in school fee contributions,” said Dr White.

“Parents at the forums were reassured that if Catholic schools could continue to work
as a low-fee system, without restrictions to the manner in which they currently share
resources, then catastrophic fee increases could be avoided.

“Statements by local politicians and letters of reassurance by the Minister affirming the
ability of the Catholic sector to work as a system have been welcomed, but parents
need to see the Government’s ‘guarantees’ worded into the legislation,” Dr White
added.

“The wording of the actual legislation with respect to needs-based funding for the next
10 years, and misleading information from the School Funding Estimator on how
schools will be funded, continues to cause real concern.

“Sydney Catholic Schools calls on the Minister to turn his words into action, to ensure
the rights and integrity of school systems to discern the needs and priorities of their
own communities, are thoroughly enshrined into the new legislation.”

Media Contact:
Bernadette Bain (02) 9568 8223

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