Catholic schools are set to gain billions while independent schools will lose out under a shake-up of school funding that will significantly change how parents' capacity to pay fees is assessed.
The changes would be a major coup for the Catholic sector, which has waged war on the government over what it believes were unjust changes to the Gonski funding model under Malcolm Turnbull.
The Age has been told the National School Resourcing Board is considering four main options for reforming the Howard-era socioeconomic status model, which determines parents' capacity to contribute to the costs of their children's private education.
The SES score is based on residential addresses of enrolled students and official statistics. Higher SES scores mean reduced government funding. But the muchanticipated review will urge major changes when given to Education Minister Simon Birmingham next month. Briefings to the sector indicate the Catholic school system will reap up to $1.8 billion over 10 years under the proposed options, while independent schools will be worse off by up to $2 billion.
It is understood all of the options under consideration reward Catholic schools to the detriment of independent schools.
One option said to be favoured by the Board is to assess parents' capacity to pay based on individual tax returns. This would involve data-matching - similar to that which underpinned the Centrelink robo-debt disaster - between deidentified tax returns and parents' address data, harnessed by the capabilities of the Multi-Agency Data Integration Project.
The report is not finished and the government would have to agree to the recommendations.
But sources indicated the Board appeared to have resolved the current SES model was not working.
The Board's proposals are a coup for the Catholic system, whose leaders have publicly disparaged the process despite demanding it. Stephen Elder, executive director of the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria, recently said the review had been "rigged" by the government.
But last night Mr Elder indicated he now had great expectations and expected the final report would "tell Senator Birmingham exactly what we said in a research paper presented to him 15 months ago - that the current school SES score funding model is not only broken but intrinsically biased against Catholic and other low-fee school systems," Mr Elder said.
He urged Senator Birmingham "to swiftly act to fix the problem and for the Turnbull government to honour the core Liberal value of providing choice in schooling to all Australian parents".
From: The Saturday Age, Melbourne by Michael Koziol26 May 2018
|Tags: Government NCEC Funding|