Independent schools sound alarm over possible new funding models
The Chief Executive of Independent Schools Victoria, Ms Michelle Green, has written to Victorian members of the Federal Cabinet alerting them to the potentially damaging impact on families of proposed school funding models.
In the letter, sent on 14 June, Ms Green said:
‘I’m writing to alert you to growing alarm in Independent school communities related to the
Australian Government’s deliberations on the future funding of non-government schools.
‘You are probably aware that the National School Resourcing Board (NSRB) is finalising a
review of how socioeconomic status (SES) scores are calculated to assess the capacity of
a non-government school community to contribute to the running costs of their school.
‘The NSRB is due to report to the Australian Minister for Education and Training, Senator
Simon Birmingham, at the end of this month.
‘While we are unaware of the NSRB’s final recommendations, we have been informed that
it is considering a number of options, some of which have been reported in the media.
‘If implemented by the government, any of these options would entail a substantial shift in
government funding, away from students in Independent schools.
‘Such a shift would likely impact on parents from all income groups, not just those with
children in high-fee schools. It would reduce choice for parents who make significant
sacrifices to educate their children in a school that best meets their needs.
‘We are particularly concerned that the NSRB is considering a funding model based on a
complex process of data matching, using the individual tax returns of parents who send
their children to Independent schools.
‘Any method linking income tax returns with residential addresses would entail serious
practical flaws that would fundamentally undermine its ability to provide an accurate,
consistent and transparent measure of a school community’s capacity to contribute.
‘Even as the NSRB finalises its report, there has been only limited consultation with
Independent Schools Victoria and with our national and interstate counterparts on the likely
impact of its recommendations.
‘Importantly, we are not aware of any modelling to show the impact on individual schools of
a funding method directly linked to household tax returns. Nor have we had the opportunity
to outline the major flaws in such a method.
‘There’s also a wider issue. If implemented, this measure will cause alarm – not only among
parents, but also in the wider community, in an environment in which the public has genuine
concerns about intrusion on individual privacy, the protection and use of personal data,
and the ability of government agencies to make sound decisions based on a complex multiagency process of data matching.
‘The 220 Independent schools in Victoria educate more than 145,000 students and employ
close to 20,000 teaching and other staff. Any move to shift support away from these
students would have serious implications for many of them – students, parents and
ISV Media and Communications Advisor
0417 562 924