Disability funding boost for Catholic schools

Stephen Elder (Melbourne Catholic)

Victorian Catholic schools will soon receive millions more in Commonwealth funding for students with a disability than state schools, The Age reports.

The changes reflect new data – which the Catholic sector has previously described as "dodgy" – that determines funding under the Turnbull government's Gonski 2.0 model.

Funding for students with a disability was previously based on medical assessments, but is now based on teachers' assessments of students' needs.

New federal Education Department figures show that Commonwealth disability loadings for Victorian Catholic schools will increase by 26 per cent, to $188 million in 2018.

Disability loadings for Victorian state schools will grow incrementally, by 5.6 per cent, to $171.7 million, while those for independent schools will dip 4.5 per cent to $117.8 million.

Victorian state schools – which educate 71.3 per cent of funded students with a disability according to the Productivity Commission – were previously set to receive the largest share of Commonwealth disability funding.

Catholic schools were initially projected to lose disability funding next year.

The Australian Education Union repeated its calls for an independent inquiry into the data.

"Government schools educate the vast majority of students with disability and yet in Victoria they won't even get the largest share of disability funding from the federal government," the union's federal president Correna Haythorpe said.

The changes are due to updated data collected by schools as part of the Nationally Consistent Collection of Data on School Students with Disability.

This data – which is based on a much broader definition of disability – will help determine school funding from next year.

Catholic Education Commission of Victoria executive director Stephen Elder said the data should not be used to allocate funding.

"Less than 12 months ago Education Minister Simon Birmingham declared that the NCCD 'fails a basic credibility test'," he said.

But Mr Elder said he would ensure every student who was eligible for funding was included in the data.

He said Catholic schools received more Commonwealth funding for students with a disability because they educated more students than the independent sector.

He pointed out that the Commonwealth government is the major public funder of non-government schools while state governments are the major funders of state schools.

FULL STORY

Catholic schools attract most Gonski funding for students with a disability (The Age)

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