Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Picture: AAP Image/Daniel Pockett
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Picture: AAP Image/Daniel Pockett

Catholic schools pray for new funding model

QUEENSLAND Catholic schools face closure unless the school funding model is changed, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will be told this week.

Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge, the state's most senior Catholic, will be attending the round table in Sydney with Mr Turnbull as well as senior Catholics from around the country on Thursday.

Originally a meeting to discuss national redress of victims of child sexual abuse, it is now more focused on school funding but numerous issues will be discussed.

It is understood that Mr Turnbull will be told that school closures were a "live issue" and discussions were taking place about that prospect if the Government proceeded with the current school funding model.

Senior Catholics, including Brisbane’s Archbishop Mark Coleridge, will meet with the PM this week to plead for a new funding model. Picture: Liam Kidston
Senior Catholics, including Brisbane’s Archbishop Mark Coleridge, will meet with the PM this week to plead for a new funding model. Picture: Liam Kidston

Schools at Weipa, Blackall and Cloncurry have all been raised by the Queensland Catholic Education Commission as areas at risk of closure, but the issue is not limited to those areas.

The commission has also been talking to candidates from the major parties in the Longman by-election behind the scenes about school funding.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham has long argued that federal funding for the Queensland Catholic sector is expected to grow above inflation, from $1.4 billion next year to $1.93 billion in 2027.

It is estimated to be an average per student increase of 3.6 per cent over the next 10 years.

The archbishops will seek clarification on the Government's position on the recent Chaney review of school funding.

The report recommended using de-identified tax returns of parents at a school to determine its socio-economic status and how much needs-based funding it should receive, but the Government is yet to formally respond to it.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says school closures are a “live issue”.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says school closures are a “live issue”.

Catholic Education argues under the existing model proposed, which takes residential addresses into consideration, it faces funding cuts and potentially rising school fees.

But the proposed Chaney model it says is a fairer means of distributing the cash.

"Catholic schools have long known that the way each school's capacity to contribute to the cost of education is calculated does not reflect the real situation for those schools," QCEC executive director Lee-Anne Perry said following the release of the report.

QCEC receives a pool of federal funding, based on its schools' socio-economic status, but it is responsible for how it is distributed among them.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister said the pre-existing meeting would discuss a number of matters including schools funding.

Senator Birmingham had been invited to the section of the meeting relating to schools funding.



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