A recent report by former NSW Secondary Principals Council president, Chris Bonnor, and education researcher, Bernie Shepherd, has been slammed by the National Catholic Education Commission (NCEC) as “misleading” and “divisive”.
The report, titled: Private school, public cost, claimed the average public school student could receive up to $100 less a year in state and federal government funding than a similar independent school student by 2020 without the final two years of Gonski reforms.
Fox said the report fails to accurately reflect current and future government funding for schools in all sectors, adding it was part of an intensifying and disturbing trend of analysis that is seeking to divide school sectors.
"Unfortunately this report appears to be motivated by a desire to undermine and question the legitimacy of government funding for non-government schools," Fox said in a statement.
"The report shows that funding to Catholic schools is closely tied to need, with more educationally disadvantaged schools receiving higher levels of government funding.
"The needs of students are complex, many and varied. School funding distributions per student are similarly complex and varied. It is dangerous to draw conclusions about school funding in Australia from simplistic and selective analysis.”
Fox added that the report’s authors did not consider current policy settings which show Federal funding for public schools increasing by 9.55% in 2015-2016 compared to 5.6% for public schools.
"Mr Bonnor and Mr Shepherd claim 'It is easy to follow the trend and judge that within the next two-three years, students in Catholic schools will reach an average 100% of government funding in several of the ICSEA grouping'.
"Funding projections should be based on what has been announced by governments for future spending, rather than continuing historical funding trends.
"Government funding for Catholic education reflects enrolments together with student and school need," Fox said.
The report’s co-author, Chris Bonner, defended the report, telling the ABC that the trends were identified using MySchool data comparing similar schools.
“They [Independent and Catholic schools] are looking at averages, which we won’t do. We have to compare apples with apples when comparing schools,” Bonner said, adding the finance data on the MySchool website was consistent across sectors.
“It counts the money in the same way. The Productivity Commission actually adds what’s called user cost of capital to the cost of Government schools, and that adds 15% to the cost.
“They don’t do that for non-government schools, so there’s a problem there that needs to be sorted out.”