The National Catholic Education Commission commented today on reports in the Australian Newspaper and on the ABC regarding government funding for Catholic schools, suggesting that there has been a misrepresentation in the media of how much funding schools receive per student.
Mrs Therese Temby, Chair of the National Catholic Education Commission, said that the reporting is quite misleading, as it suggests that Catholic schools receive a higher level of funding than Government schools.
“Recent press comments (The Australian, the ABC website) have misreported government funding for non-government schools, yet the National Report on Schooling in Australia 2009, to which the reports refer actually says : The total [government] funding per student over the past four years…shows government school per student recurrent funding increasing…at a greater rate than that for the non-government school sector (section 8.2 on Government Funding).
The reports in The Australian and on the ABC appear to be based on the journalists’ own analysis of the 2009 National Report data on government funding for schools based on a report by lobbyist Mr Trevor Cobbold”, said Mrs. Temby.
“Mr Cobbold’s brief statement (10 January 2012) admits that he has “converted” and “adjusted” the official data”, she said.
“Using his own adjusted figures, Mr Cobbold claims that Catholic schools are either ‘at least as well resourced’ or ‘significantly better resourced’ than government schools. But there is only one set of consistent, comparable school financial data on which all school authorities, all sectors, all State Education Ministers agree,” said Mrs Temby.
“The financial data on the Australian Government’s MySchool website shows Catholic schools have 10 per cent less net recurrent income per student than do government schools,” she said.
Mrs Temby went on to say that the way in which schools utilise funds is far more important than how much schools receive.
“The crucial issue is how schools spend their funds – how Catholic schools provide ‘value for money’,” said Mrs Temby.
Speaking on the ABC’s PM Program last night, Dr Gary Marks (from the Australian Council for Educational Research) said: “There is an argument that if you compare Catholic schools and government schools, Catholic schools – kids at Catholic schools do better.”