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Minister, Opposition Leader Address Catholic Educators

The joint hosts of the National Catholic Education Commission 2016 Conference have said the presence of Minister for Education and Training Senator Simon Birmingham and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten at the gathering of 1,400 Catholic educators shows the value the politicians place on the role of Catholic schools in Australian society.

“With just 12 days until the federal election, Minister Birmingham and Mr Shorten have prioritised this event to explain their parties’ vision for Australian education and the important role that the 1,731 Catholic schools across Australia play in that educational enterprise,” NCEC executive director Ross Fox said.

Tim McDonald, executive director of Catholic Education Western Australia, said the visit “strengthens the already close bond that the 163 Catholic schools in Western Australia have with local and national political leaders in supporting the education of 78,000 students in all parts of the state”.

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Growing Pressure on School Places Needs Attention

As demand for places in all Australian schools continues to grow on the back of a recent spike in births and strong migration, Commonwealth, state and territory governments must consider how they support the provision of contemporary learning environments for new and expanding schools, the National Catholic Education Commission has said.

NCEC executive director Ross Fox says a 20 per cent increase in the birth rate between 2004 and 2008 – about 50,000 additional births per year – and the sustained high number of births in subsequent years is now putting pressure on primary schools.

“By 2019, primary schools will have had to increase capacity at all year levels by 20 per cent to accommodate the growth in student numbers,” Mr Fox explained, saying migration has also pushed up demand for school places.

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Catholic Schools Committed to Care of All Students

National Catholic Education Commission executive director Ross Fox has underlined the national commitment to eliminating bullying in Catholic schools and to providing support and pastoral care for students who are bullied for any reason.

Mr Fox said despite a new journal article’s claims about how same-sex attracted and gender-diverse students are supported in Catholic schools, the human dignity of each student and the emphasis on pastoral care are part of Catholic education’s holistic approach to student welfare.

“The new article, which draws on 10-year-old information that relied on education policies dating back to 2001, makes assertions about how Catholic schools are currently responding to issues around bullying,” he explained.

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Setting the Record Straight on School Funding

A report from the Centre for Policy Development released today contains analysis of the Australian education system. National Catholic Education Commission executive director Ross Fox says the report contains flawed analysis and unsubstantiated claims.

The report’s authors claim that by 2020, Catholic schools will be receiving higher levels of funding from government sources than government schools. The methodology used to create those so-called projections is seriously flawed and not credible, Mr Fox said.

“The funding projections have been done using historical funding data, a ruler and a pencil,” Mr Fox said.

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Radical Funding Freeze Proposal Unjustified, Would Hurt Students

National Catholic Education Commission executive director Ross Fox says a proposal to freeze funding for Catholic schools would abandon the principle of needs-based funding and would be a serious blow to the education of students in non-government schools.

A new report from the Centre for Policy Development includes a recommendation to cancel important and necessary increases in government funding for Catholic and independent schools.

“To propose a freeze on the funding levels for 1.3 million students from all backgrounds is radical and unjustified. It would have dire consequences for the future of non-government schools and the education of those students,” Mr Fox said.

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Flawed Assumptions, Simplistic Comparisons Disappointing

National Catholic Education Commission executive director Ross Fox says Fairfax Media reports this morning use flawed assumptions and simplistic comparisons to create a misleading picture of how Australian schools are funded.

“Discussion on school funding should be driven by facts, not by cherry-picking of data and flawed assumptions. Flawed analysis does nothing to support teaching and learning in Australian schools,” Mr Fox said.

“Australian schools are funded based on the needs of the students in those schools. According to the latest available data, government schools, on average, receive $12,100 per student from government. Catholic schools receive $10,000 and independent schools $8,200 per student.”

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School Funding Diversion Ignores the Facts

National Catholic Education Commission executive director Ross Fox says the Australian Education Union’s diversion on school funding today ignores the reality of school enrolment and students’ needs.

“This apparent attempt to turn school funding discussions into a battle between school sectors will do nothing to support students or teachers,” Mr Fox said.

Mr Fox said today’s analysis and the subsequent media reports ignore the reality of school funding.

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Education Front and Centre as Election Campaign Nears

How government policy supports quality teaching and learning and how schools are funded will be a focus of the upcoming federal election campaign, National Catholic Education Commission executive director Ross Fox has said.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in the coming days is expected to ask Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove to dissolve Parliament and thereby start the countdown to a July 2 election.

“Over the next eight weeks, political parties and candidates will outline their vision for the future of Australia, and that future is dependent on how students and schools are supported,” Mr Fox said.

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Labor Underlines Its Commitment to School Education

The National Catholic Education Commission has welcomed Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s clear support for school education in his Budget-in-reply speech, reiterating the principles of the “Your Child. Our Future” policy announced in January.

Mr Shorten last night said he is committed to ensuring “every child, in every school, gets every opportunity for a great world-class education”.

NCEC executive director Ross Fox said Mr Shorten has laid the groundwork for school education to be a focus ahead of the election.

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Budget Delivers Indexation Certainty on School Funding

The National Catholic Education Commission says the additional recurrent funding confirmed in tonight’s federal Budget gives certainty on funding indexation to principals, school staff and families.

“Investment in schools to ensure quality teaching and learning is critical to the future of Australia,” NCEC executive director Ross Fox said.

The 2016-17 Commonwealth Budget confirmed there will be $1.2 billion in additional funding to support all Australian schools from 2018 to 2020. This reflects a commitment to indexation at 3.56 per cent for school funding beyond 2017. Over the forward estimates, funding for government schools will increase by 33 per cent, while funding for non-government schools, including Catholic schools, will increase by 22.7 per cent.

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Catholic Education Welcomes School Funding Commitment

The National Catholic Education Commission has welcomed the Coalition Government’s announcement of $1.2 billion in additional funding to support all Australian schools, saying it has placed school education at the centre of this year’s federal election campaign.

“Schools are important institutions in the community and well-directed investment in schools will determine the future of Australia as a society and an economy,” NCEC executive director Ross Fox said.

“Catholic education is pleased that the Government has today committed to future funding that reflects real costs for schools.”

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Action to Avoid Unnecessary ACNC Red Tape Welcomed

Non-government schools across Australia, including Catholic schools, stand to benefit from the Commonwealth Government’s announcement today that the transitional arrangements for non-government school financial reporting to the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) will be extended by two years, the National Catholic Education Commission has said.

Since the ACNC was established, non-government schools’ existing reporting mechanisms have been accepted as fulfilling the reporting requirements under the ACNC legislation. The transition was originally scheduled to end in 2016, but the Government’s announcement has seen that transition period extended to include the 2016 and 2017 school years.

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Catholic Schools and Parents Need Funding Certainty

When the leaders of Australia’s governments gather this week, providing certainty on school funding beyond 2017 should be a priority, the National Catholic Education Commission has said.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will meet with premiers and chief ministers on Friday, with Commonwealth funding for education and health expected to be on the agenda. Mr Turnbull has foreshadowed a key topic.

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Catholic School Parents Cover Almost One-Third of Education Costs

Parents of students in Catholic schools continue to pay almost 30 per cent of the cost of educating their child, on average, despite increases in government funding to meet the changing educational needs of students in Catholic schools, new government data shows.

School funding data on the My School website showed that the share of recurrent funding that Catholic school parents pay has been consistent in recent years at 29 per cent.

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