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ISV warns of risk to regional schools

Independent Schools Victoria (ISV) today expressed concern about the long-term impact on Independent schools in regional areas of the Federal Government’s new funding model for non-government schools.

The new model draws on parents’ tax returns to assess their capacity to contribute to the cost of school operations.

‘While we support a fairer and more accurate way of determining Government support for schools, the new model could lead to unintended consequences, especially for schools in regional areas,’ ISV Chief Executive Michelle Green said.

‘While we welcome the fact some schools will receive extra funding under the new model, the net effect is a reduction in funding, compared to the current model, for most students in Victorian Independent schools,’ she said.

‘This will particularly affect long-established regional schools,’ Ms Green said. ‘These schools are not necessarily well-resourced, high-fee schools.

‘Many charge mid-range fees and serve the needs of a widely diverse range of families who are already suffering economic hardship, some of whom have experienced drought and bushfires.’

Over the 10 years of phased implementation, schools that educate more than half of the 143,000 students in Victorian Independent schools will get less funding than they would have under the current model.

Analysis of official data suggests Victorian Independent schools could experience a net fall of around $80 million in federal funding over the ten years, with the impact felt particularly by regional schools that are less able to absorb the loss.

‘The risk is that some schools will be forced to cut the programs they offer students or increase fees, in the process reducing parent choice. In the long-term it could affect the viability of some schools,’ Ms Green said.

ISV has consistently argued that the new model is being implemented before it is properly tested and validated.

‘The Government still has time to get the new model right before its negative impact starts to be felt from 2022,’ Ms Green said.

‘We welcome the Government’s decision to conduct research on additional data that could be used to calculate a school community’s capacity to contribute to the school’s operations.

‘We also welcome its commitment to consider an appeals process for schools facing ‘‘unexpected or unique circumstances’’ which could affect the financial capacity of a school community, and to examine the funding loadings for schools in regional areas.’

Media Contact:

Tom Hyland

ISV Media and Communications Advisor
0417 562 924
tom.hyland@is.vic.edu.au