Federal Labor is under pressure from the Catholic education lobby to commit to retaining a $1.2 billion government funding deal that was designed to keep a cap on non-government school fees. Source: The Australian.
The Choice and Affordability Fund, rolled out as part of the Coalition’s $4.6bn peace deal with the Catholic and independent school sectors last year, is a prime target for review should the ALP win next month’s election.
The National Catholic Education Commission, where former Labor senator Jacinta Collins is at the helm, plans to push the case for its continuation at a meeting with Labor’s education spokeswoman, Tanya Plibersek, later this month.
The lobby, which waged a campaign last year to remove bias from the method of calculating its federal funding that will now be based on students’ family incomes rather than postcode, will also be seeking a commitment from Labor to support all school sectors equally.
It is also requesting an increase in capital funding allocations to help provide for an expected surge in enrolments.
Ms Plibersek has agreed to meet a forum of Catholic sector delegates, principals, teachers and parents in Sydney on April 30. Education Minister Dan Tehan declined a request to attend.
The lobbying, combined with the tireless campaigning of the Australian Education Union for more public education funding, highlights the struggle the ALP could face to keep control of education costs, if elected.
A Catholic education commission spokesman said the organisation understood Labor was committed to matching the Coalition’s funding arrangements for non-government schools, including “all components of the September 2018 changes”.
Asked about the importance of the Choice and Affordability Fund, the spokesman said: “Our priority is to ensure our schools remain affordable and viable so Australian families have a choice.”
Ms Plibersek has previously said the fund “looks very much” like a “slush fund” and called on the government to explain its purpose.
She declined to comment on her government’s plans for the fund yesterday but reiterated her support for Catholic schools.
Catholic schools have lesson for Labor (The Australian)