Published on October 30, 2018

There has been a raging debate going on in the national media about funding of non-government schools. The Catholic Education Commission of Victoria has been particularly aggressive claiming a fair deal for Catholic schools across the country. The outcome of this is that the government has determined that a new funding formula will be used to determine the level of government funding for non-government schools.

The new funding model is the Personal Income Tax (PIT) model, which will use parents’ income from income tax records to determine our school’s funding. Your private tax records will determine how much government funding the school you have chosen to send your children to, should receive.

Simply put, schools where parents have high personal incomes will receive very little government funding, and schools where parent incomes are relatively low will get the highest levels of support.

Where does that leave HVGS? We don’t know, because the Government has not released any relevant data to schools. We have visibility over our funding for 2019, and no further afield than that. This does cause difficulties. Our School, like many independent schools, has five-year and 10-year cash flow forecasting models to ensure we can sustain our educational programs, capital and asset developments, staffing levels and resourcing in the long-term. There are important principles at stake here, which I fear have been lost on the Government:

  • Parents have the primary responsibility for the education of their children and have the right to choose to educate their children in our school.
  • All families (and their children) have the right to appropriate levels of government support for their choice of school – they are taxpayers after all.
  • Federal funding for children attending our school is vital to ensure that our parents do have a legitimate choice. One-third of our annual income comes from federal funding. It is a very significant amount of funding.
  • Federal funding for children who attend our school must be fair. It would interest parents to know that the selective Merewether High School receives significantly more funding from federal and state governments than we do. Yet, parents in both schools are subject to the same tax regime.

What the funding debate has done is spark conversations about why parents choose independent schools. Families choose our school, and independent schools more generally, because:

  • Our strength is our teachers who are committed to each child’s learning and growth. 
  • We promote teaching excellence, the single most powerful influence on student academic achievement after student ability.  
  • We have strong academic, co-curriculum and pastoral care programs, which are linked to higher academic performance and increased student engagement and motivation.
  • We have strong academic performance fostered by quality teaching and individual student support.
  • The individual learning needs of each child are recognised and catered for.
  • We have standards and expectations. We promote in all children a responsible attitude to work, learning, behaviour and relationships.
  • We focus on the whole child with programs to help develop mind, body and character.
  • The good relationships between students and their teachers, and students’ social and emotional competencies, facilitate greater well-being and school performance.
  • Our students are highly likely to complete Year 12 and to achieve university entrance. Some 95% of our Year 10 students will complete Year 12, and more than 90% of our Year 12 students will study at university.

The educational outcomes for our students support their development as top-quality citizens and future leaders.
We add significant value to a child’s education because of parents’ engagement. Our parents’ attitudes to education and support of the School positively affects student academic achievement.

The factors mentioned above contribute to greater academic opportunity for students in our School and a lasting learning legacy.

Parents choose our School because they want educational excellence for their children. I want to record how much we value and appreciate the commitment that parents make to our school, financially, psychologically and physically. Without your support, we certainly would not be the quality school we are.