Catholic systemic schools across Australia will benefit from extra funding and more resources after the National Catholic Education Commission (NCEC) and the Australian Government today reached an historic agreement on the Better Schools Plan.
The agreement will see approximately $1.6 billion in additional funding flow through to the nation’s 1650 Catholic systemic schools over six years, benefiting almost 700,000 students.
The Rudd Government has the utmost respect for the integrity and autonomy of the Catholic education system, which for over 150 years has served some of the most disadvantaged communities in Australia.
It is an educational system with a proven track record - from educating some of our best and brightest, to taking on some of the most disadvantaged students.
We know that teachers and principals of our Catholic schools want to ensure that every child gets the opportunity they deserve, and the Better Schools Plan will do just that.
The Australian Government and the NCEC have worked constructively and respectfully over many months to secure the best possible outcome for students in Catholic systemic schools.
The Better Schools Plan will ensure that every Australian child, irrespective of where they live, which school they attend or their family background, will get the best start in life.
This is not just an investment in schools, this is a down payment on the long-term strength of the Australian economy, and will underwrite higher productivity for decades to come.
The Australian Government has set an ambitious target for Australia to be in the top five in the world in reading, maths and science by 2025 and this can only be achieved by working together with Catholic schools.
This additional funding will enable Catholic systemic schools to implement the signature reforms of the Better Schools Plan including initiatives around quality teaching, quality learning, meeting student need, empowered school leadership and better data collection and research to drive improvements within schools.
The agreement reached today and the additional funding that will flow to Catholic education provides enough funding for each Catholic systemic school to receive a three per cent increase per student per year, based on 2013 funding levels. This has been acknowledged by the Catholic education sector during our recent constructive discussions.
In addition, the Australian Government has locked in indexation at 4.7 per cent from 2014, providing certainty for schools through to 2019.
The new funding arrangements and the Better Schools’ reforms are guaranteed through the Australian Education Act 2013 which passed the Parliament on 26 June, 2013.
Today’s announcement brings the Catholic systemic schools in line with the rest of the non-government schools sector in Australia, following the recent agreement between the Australian Government and the Independent Schools Council of Australia (ISCA).
It is now time for Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory to join with New South Wales, Tasmania, South Australia, the ACT and the Catholic and Independent sectors in embracing the Better Schools Plan.