In our Catholic tradition, we recently celebrated the feast of the Ascension. This event when Jesus ascends into Heaven gives much hope for many as promised through the words at the conclusion of the Gospel of Matthew. Personally, I have always found great comfort in the words “And remember, I am with you always; yes, to the end of time” Mt 28:20. These words provide assurance that we are never alone and that our concerns are known to God.

These final weeks are very important for our students as they will be completing courses of study, sitting exams and, for senior students, the realisation may be dawning that the year is moving rapidly to a conclusion.

The biennial ACC Art and Technology Exhibition held at Deakin Edge, Federation Square, showcased the talents of students from the 12 schools which make up the ACC. We had 18 students whose work was displayed in the public areas at Federation Square. I was thrilled to witness five of our students who performed solo musical pieces. Thank you to Ms Bronwyn Dean and Ms Sophie Maclure who led our accomplished performers.

Elton Salim 10CA Classical Piano
Luke Morton 11CA Trumpet
Joel David 11OM Contemporary Piano
Ben Harris 10LE Clarinet
Henry Bird 10CA Drums

I refer you to the ACC website for more news on the wonderful opportunities that are available for your sons. Below is the link to the event launch for the recent Art and Technology exhibition.

Event Launch

Below is correspondence from CECV (Catholic Education Commission of Victoria) related to the funding issues for Catholic Schools. It is important that I point out that the recent announcements for funding would have a dramatically negative impact on Catholic schools over a ten-year period. Catholic schools rely heavily on the fair allocation and distribution of government grants and, as a Catholic sector, it is important that we collectively ensure that our communities are aware of what the implications are should the current position of the government remain in place.

School funding needs to keep pace with school costs

Nearly one in four Victorian students attends a Catholic school.

Catholic school families are pretty similar to government school families and are open to anyone seeking Catholic education. Catholic schools tend to keep school fees as low as possible, so that more families can make that choice for their children.

Over the next three years, the Australian Government has committed to growing funding for Catholic schools in Victoria by only 3.5%. While this might seem high in the current climate, to put it into context, teacher salaries in Victoria are expected to increase by 3.25% over the same timeframe.

This short-term gain comes with long-term pain.

From 2021, the Turnbull Government is now proposing to introduce a minimum annual indexation rate of 3%. The government originally intended on introducing a variable measure that would have resulted in significantly lower annual increases to Catholic school funding. While the government’s newer proposal is a positive step, annual funding growth may not keep pace with school costs, particularly if teacher salaries continue to rise at the current rate.

Any decision to reduce Catholic school funding – by not having school funding keep pace with actual school costs – will mean that parent fees will have to go up. The alternative is to cut educational programs in schools, which will undermine the good work that many Catholic schools like this one do every day.

Neither option is acceptable, nor will our school community take this cruel hoax from the Education Minister, Simon Birmingham.

Government funding cuts to students with disability

Today, over 10,000 students with disability are educated in Catholic schools across Victoria.
Government funding support is critical for our schools to meet the individual needs of these. In 2011, the Gonski Review recognised this when it recommended that students with disability be funded through a loading that should be matched to the needs of each individual student. Until this measure could be established, the Gonski Panel recommended that all students with disability were funded at the same rate.

While all students with disability receive the same loading from the Australian Government, within Catholic education, we differentiate the funding support provided to students based on our own assessment of each student’s needs. This system is considered to work well.

The Nationally Consistent Collection of Data on School Students with Disability (NCCD) trial was established to come up with a standardised definition of students with disability that could be used to compare spending and support in all states and territories.

The collection relies on surveys filled out by school principals and teachers, not assessment by medical professionals.

Under the NCCD there has been a significant increase in the number of students considered to have a disability. Initial analysis of the NCCD showed that some schools were over estimating the needs of some students with disability. In addition, as students are only counted in the NCCD if they are receiving an ‘adjustment’ for a disability, it appears this is favouring the wealthier schools which can afford to make individual adjustments to meet all the needs of their students.

School leaders and disability support groups, including Autism Support Australia, have said that the data is unreliable. Even the Education Minister said in December that the NCCD was flawed and that ‘This data … hasn’t come to a credible landing point just yet.’

So, why is this important?

On 2 May, the Turnbull Government announced that it will use NCCD from next year to determine how students with disability will be funded by the Australian Government.
This might have been all right, if the total amount of federal funding available to students with disability was to grow, but this will not be the case for Catholic education.
Under the Government’s proposal, more students will be classified as having a disability but, in most cases, they will attract less funding to Catholic education.

This means that most students who are currently funded for their disability will receive less money from the government.

Based on the current data, the total funding provided to Catholic school students with disability will be 17% lower over the next 10 years.

It beggars belief that some of the nation’s students who are in most need of funding support are going to be disadvantaged because of the Turnbull Government’s decision to use a funding calculation for students with disability which its own Education Minister says is not credible.

Regardless of your political views, the reality is that we are faced, as a sector, with the challenges presented by the current government. I want to assure you that the Director of Catholic Education, Mr Stephen Elder, is working tirelessly to draw attention to the significant issues related to the proposed funding arrangements in order to bring about a change in the government’s position.

Should you have any queries or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me at the College.

All the best for the fortnight ahead.
Ms Cathy Livingston