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Commitment to Gonski Funding Agreement by Major Parties Welcomed

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
24 Mar 2015

Gonski funding reforms agreed by then NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell and then PM Julia Gillard in 2013 will be honoured by NSW Labor and the Coalition

The Catholic Education Commission NSW has welcomed a commitment by both the NSW Coalition and NSW Labor to deliver the State Government's share of the six year Gonski funding agreement which guarantees state funding certainty to Catholic Schools until 2019.

When the Gonski Agreement, as the funding arrangement is popularly known, was negotiated  between the Federal and NSW Governments in 2013, the then Prime Minister Julia Gillard and the then NSW Premier, Barry O'Farrell committed to recurrent funding of the State's Catholic schools from 2014 until 2019.

However after the 2013 Federal Election, the incoming Abbott Government revisited commitments made with the states as part of the Gonski Agreement. Instead of the six years of schools funding by the States under Gonski, and which the Federal Government had agreed to match, the Federal Minister for Education, Christopher Pyne announced that the Commonwealth would on commit to funding from 2014 to 2017.

If re-elected NSW Premier Mike Baird pledges to work with Catholic sector to target capital funding in growth areas

This left public as well as independent and Catholic schools without funding certainty by the Commonwealth in the final two years of the Gonski Agreement when the majority of increased funding was due.

Although the Federal Government has made no funding commitment for these final two years, this week both the state's Education Minister, Adrian Piccoli and Labor Education spokesman Ryan Park insisted that their Governments, if elected on Saturday, 28 March, would implement the Agreement and guarantee six years of state funding as had been agreed during the original negotiations.

"In Government, Labor would meet the obligations and provide an extra $1.76 billion over the six-year Gonski agreement and would increase pressure on the Federal Government to come to the table and do the same," Ryan Park said this week.

Students at Catholic schools in NSW continue to perform well above the state average

Mr Piccoli was equally firm about the Baird Government's commitment to the Gonski Agreement which he said would deliver an additional $529 million to Catholic schools covering the period from 2014 to 2019.

In the lead up to the State Election, both parties have also given a commitment to work with the Catholic sector to support schools growth. Although an exact monetary figure has not been specified, both parties have insisted capital funding would be increased in growth areas as well as for Catholic schools most in need of investment.

While the NECNSW welcomes commitments to Catholic schools, capital funding and guaranteed State funding under the Gonski Agreement until 2019, there is little support for the Greens education platform that would see $1 billion taken from Catholic and Independent schools and transferred to public schools despite the fact that Catholic schools educate one in five, or 20% of all students in NSW.

One in five students educated in the Catholic system

NSW Greens spokesman, Dr John Kaye insists that the State Government should have "primary responsibility to secure outcomes for public schools." And while he does not refer to Catholic schools directly, the NSW Greens campaign maintains that "no public money should be handed over to any school that engages in outdated and discriminatory practices towards its staff, students or parents and guardians."

To access the CECNSW 2015 Election Updates which deal with key education issues currently faced by the Catholic education system and of particular interest to parents, students and teachers should log on to http://www.cecnsw.catholic.edu.au/dbpage.php?pg=NSWElec2015&toplink=1