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Independent, Catholic Schools Back Copyright Reform

The peak bodies representing more than 2,700 Catholic and Independent schools have welcomed the Turnbull Government’s plan to update copyright laws to better reflect contemporary practice, but have expressed disappointment that Australian schools will continue to be exposed to possible dangers because the Government has abandoned proposed changes to “safe harbour” provisions.

The Independent Schools Council of Australia (ISCA) and the National Catholic Education Commission (NCEC) have been working with other education organisations to seek changes to copyright laws that would simplify the system, allow greater access to material for students with disability and remove some anomalies that have existed for long periods without review and revision.

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New Resource Supports Faith Formation in Catholic Schools

Catholic education leaders have gathered in North Sydney to celebrate the launch of a new National Catholic Education Commission resource to support the formation of the more than 90,000 staff working in Catholic schools and Catholic school systems.

Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB, Archbishop of Perth and chair of the Bishops Commission for Catholic Education, launched A Framework for Formation for Mission in Catholic Education at Mary MacKillop Place last night.

In his foreword for the document, Archbishop Costelloe spoke of the central importance of God in people’s lives and especially in the lives of those who work in Catholic education.

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High-Gain Schools Can Help Drive Student Performance

National Catholic Education Commission acting executive director Danielle Cronin says the identification of schools where students have experienced significant improvement in literacy and numeracy can help support teachers and students in other schools.

The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) today released updated information on Australian schools, including details on schools where year 3 students have made significant progress by year 5, or year 7 students by the time they reach year 9.

The analysis examines groups of students as they move through school and assesses their results on NAPLAN testing.

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Funding Policy Vacuum Allows for Distractions

Catholic education leaders are becoming increasingly frustrated by seeing the future of school funding played out in the media and via unnamed Government sources, rather than through collaborative and constructive dialogue with key education stakeholders, National Catholic Education Commission acting executive director Danielle Cronin says.

Ms Cronin said media coverage today provides a distraction from the key issues facing schools and schools systems in the coming months.

“Funding discussion driven by Cabinet leaks and media speculation does not help parents, schools or school systems understand how Commonwealth school funding will support a quality education for Australia’s 3.8 million students in 2018 and beyond,” Ms Cronin said.

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Catholic Sector Left Out of Year 1 Assessment Discussion

National Catholic Education Commission acting executive director Danielle Cronin says the lack of a Catholic representative on the panel developing year 1 literacy and numeracy assessments is an oversight that could limit the group’s ability to create a useful tool for all Australian schools.

Minister for Education and Training Senator Simon Birmingham yesterday announced the six-member panel that will offer advice to the Education Council on the new literacy and numeracy check, which had been foreshadowed in the Turnbull Government’s “Quality Schools, Quality Outcomes” policy.

“Catholic schools educate one in five young Australians, yet the collective wisdom of the tens of thousands of educators in Catholic schools has been ignored in the selection of this panel,” Ms Cronin said.

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New Schools Open as Demand for Catholic Education Grows

Seven new Catholic schools have opened across Australia this year, allowing more and more families to access the Catholic education they are seeking for their children, National Catholic Education Commission acting executive director Danielle Cronin has said.

“Tens of thousands of students are starting their educational journey this week and the holistic, Christ-centred education on offer in Catholic schools continues to be a popular choice for Australian families,” Ms Cronin said.

“New Catholic schools have opened in Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales, taking the number of Catholic schools in Australia to 1,738 – from inner-city locations to some of the country’s most remote areas.”

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Catholic Education Welcomes Emphasis on Students with Disability

The National Catholic Education Commission says the Nationally Consistent Collection of Data (NCCD) on students with disability is helping educators better understand the learning needs of all students, but acknowledges that the current assessment method should be further improved in the coming years.

Education Council chair and Northern Territory Education Minister Eva Lawler yesterday released emergent data on students with disability in Australian schools based on information collected under the new model. NCEC acting executive director Danielle Cronin said the new approach to assessing students to determine how they can best be supported in their education provides a framework for a more coordinated approach to learning.

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Funding Uncertainty Must Be Addressed Early in 2017

The National Catholic Education Commission has expressed its disappointment that 2016 will end with no resolution to the future of school funding, but looks forward to working with the Commonwealth Government early in the new year to provide funding certainty for schools, school systems and parents.

“While the Education Council meeting did not provide any further clarity on a new funding model, education ministers acknowledged the urgency of consultation on school funding and the proposed new national schools reform agreement for 2018 and beyond,” NCEC acting executive director Danielle Cronin said.

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NAPLAN Results Can Help Shape Education Policy Debate

The National Catholic Education Commission says the release of the 2016 NAPLAN national report provides a third report on the performance of Australian students in three weeks, offering a chance for reflection on initiatives that can support teaching and learning.

NCEC acting executive director Danielle Cronin said while NAPLAN is only a snapshot of school education in some subject areas and some year levels, there are educational benefits to be gained at the individual and school level.

“Literacy and numeracy are foundational skills in children’s education and in their lives, so assessing progress is important in trying to set students up for the challenges that lie ahead,” Ms Cronin said.

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Catholic Schools Performing Well, But PISA Scores Sliding

The latest Programme for International Student Assessment report shows that Australian Catholic schools continue to perform well in relation to high-performing countries, but declining results being seen locally and internationally are a cause for concern, the National Catholic Education Commission has said.

The 2015 PISA results were released today and show that Australian 15-year-olds continue to enjoy stronger results in maths, science and reading than their OECD peers, on average.

"In reading and in science, Australian students are performing well above the OECD average, and their scores in maths are also above the international average,” NCEC acting executive director Danielle Cronin said.

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Simple Funding Model Appealing, But Inadequate

A new school funding model must focus on meeting the actual needs of all students in all schools, rather than seek to deliver simplicity for simplicity’s sake, the National Catholic Education Commission has urged.

Catholic education has begun discussions with the Commonwealth Government over how Australian schools will be funded beyond 2017. NCEC acting executive director Danielle Cronin said it is important that those discussions proceed quickly and offer clarity about future school funding.

“We are now just 13 months away from an uncertain school funding model,” Ms Cronin said.

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Further Scrutiny of Gonski Recommendations Needed

National Catholic Education Commission executive director Ross Fox has said if the recommendations of the Gonski Review of Funding for Schooling are the starting point as the Commonwealth Government moves towards a new school funding model, the recommendations must be measured against the real needs of current students and schools.

“The Gonski Review made an important contribution to shaping understandings of needs-based funding in Australian schools, but the recommendations must be tested in light of the realities of school funding today, rather than a five-year-old understanding,” Mr Fox said.

“There are almost 250,000 more students in Australian schools than there were in 2011, and the needs of those students and where those students are being educated must be part of the discussion about how schools and students are supported into the future.”

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School Funding Model Reflects Needs

National Catholic Education Commission executive director Ross Fox has challenged the notion that variations in how Australian schools are funded are a “corruption” of the funding model that emerged from the Gonski Review of Funding for Schooling.

Mr Fox said with diverse needs being experienced in all schools and all sectors, the Australian Education Act sought to allocate funding that would meet the needs of students and schools.

“There are 9,500 schools across Australia, and no two schools are the same,” he explained.

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Funding Certainty a Genuine Need for Parents and Schools

The discussion on school funding in recent days has created greater uncertainty for parents and schools as to how the Commonwealth will fund schools from 2018, National Catholic Education Commission executive director Ross Fox says.

“The recent debate has not helped parents, schools or school systems understand how Commonwealth school funding will support a quality education for Australia’s 3.8 million students in 2018 and beyond,” Mr Fox said.

“The priority must be to move all systems and all schools closer to being funded according to their need rather than moving funding between schools in aid of other policy objectives.”

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Schools, Students Need Progress on Funding, Not Regression

National Catholic Education Commission executive director Ross Fox says Catholic school leaders and parents are becoming increasingly concerned about how schools will be funded from 2018 as an era of uncertainty looms closer.

Education ministers will meet in Adelaide tomorrow to discuss how Commonwealth funding for Australian schools is distributed after 2017. Mr Fox called for the ministers to take a constructive approach to the discussions.

“With just 15 months left until the current Commonwealth funding arrangements for Australian schools expire, there is not a lot of time for parents and schools to plan for the educational needs of students,” Mr Fox said.

Click here to read the full media release.

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