Funding Catholic schools: it’s a partnership

men building, panting, brother in shot

Volunteers building a section of Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School Cabramatta, before state aid.

Catholic schools educate more than 20 per cent of students in Australia, and demand for places at them is growing. Despite this, the state government provides very little capital funding for new Catholic schools.

The 2015 census data obtained from our Sydney Catholic schools shows clearly that our Catholic schools have never been more popular. It is likely that for the first time, enrolment numbers in the Archdiocese of Sydney will nudge 70,000, and that growth trend shows no sign of slowing down – in fact it is likely to increase.

Over the next five years, big things are planned in the Archdiocese. In 2016, our first-ever ‘special school’ for secondary students with moderate disabilities and complex learning needs will open. In the following year, new schools are planned for Mortlake and Austral. Existing schools are already expanding their capacity and other new-school options are being seriously considered all over Sydney.

As you might expect, building new schools and expanding existing ones is expensive. Catholic schools educate more than 20 per cent of students in Australia, and despite this, the state government provides very little capital funding for new schools. On top of that, unlike government schools, Catholic systems have to pay similar costs to those paid by developers when it comes to establishing new schools. Without new Catholic schools, the projected demand for new school enrolments in NSW could not be met.

Hopefully, with a state election looming, both the current NSW Government and the Opposition will recognise the need for more capital funding for Catholic schools so that they can do their part in meeting the ever-increasing demand.

Catholic schools exist because of the passion and commitment of parents to have a Catholic education for their children; however, the reality is that they rely on state and federal governments to fund them. Catholic schools already operate only 90 per cent of the total funding received by government schools. A fair deal for Catholic schools on capital funding will help the state government to meet the demand for school enrolments that is expected in the years ahead.

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