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Independent schools open to disability audit – are others?

Independent Schools Victoria (ISV) today declared its support for an audit of how all schools assess students with disability – and challenged other school sectors to do likewise.

ISV Chief Executive, Ms Michelle Green, endorsed any such audit, following repeated – and
potentially defamatory – claims by Mr Stephen Elder, Executive Director of the Catholic
Education Commission of Victoria (CECV), that Independent schools were manipulating the
data to gain government funding.

‘ISV supports an open audit of the way schools collect data on students with disability, as a
way of putting to rest Mr Elder’s shrill and increasingly bizarre attacks on Independent
schools,’ Ms Green said.

‘Independent schools have nothing to hide. Does Mr Elder?’

In recent days, Mr Elder has recycled old claims about the way schools assess the needs of
students with disabilities, known as the Nationally Consistent Collection of Data (NCCD).
He has accused teachers and other professional staff of Independent schools of falsifying
the data in order to attract additional government funding.

‘In impugning their integrity and honesty, he’s effectively defamed dedicated educators who
are applying their professional judgement to meet the needs of individual children,’ Ms Green

Unlike a centralised authority like the CECV, ISV does not control or direct individual schools.

‘I would urge Mr Elder to open his books to an independent audit,’ Ms Green said.

Under the NCCD, teachers and other education experts assess the level of additional
educational support required by students with a disability, as defined by the Disability
Discrimination Act.

Depending on the level of adjustment required, students with disability might be entitled to
additional government funding.

‘While the data collected is confidential to protect the privacy of individual students, disability
funding to all schools has gone up since the NCCD was introduced,’ Ms Green said.

Media reports have revealed that the rate of increase is greater in Catholic schools than in
Independent and government schools.

‘Our understanding is that the proportion of students in Independent schools who receive this
funding is the roughly the same as in Catholic schools,’ Ms Green said.

‘ISV is committed to accountability, as we believe the public has a right to know how
taxpayers’ money is spent,’ she said.

Ms Green noted that a 2016 report by the Victorian Auditor General had criticised Mr Elder
for ‘intemperate’ attacks on the integrity of an audit of government funding to non-government

The Auditor General described Mr Elder’s comments as ‘quite unworthy of the administrative
head of an important system of education’.

Media contact

Tom Hyland

ISV Media and Communications Advisor
0417 562 924