Scott Morrison has pledged to fix the way Catholic and independent schools are funded, with a $4.5 billion deal for the two sectors that opposed the Federal Government’s 2017 schools funding changes.
The prime minister and education minister Dan Tehan made the announcement on Thursday, with the Federal Government moving away from a funding model based on census data.
The government will chip in $3.2 billion over 10 years from 2020 to fund a new model using parental tax data to calculate a school’s wealth.
Independent and Catholic schools will receive $170.8 million over the year in 2019.
Meanwhile a $1.2 billion Choice and Affordability Fund over 10 years will help keep fees affordable and continue choice.
It will enable the Catholic sector to keep fees low across the system.
Mr Morrison stated where the money was coming from would be addressed in the mid-year budget review in December.
The package ends a long running war over the Gonski 2.0 school funding model.
“For students, this will mean the opportunity to get the best results from school,” Mr Morrison said.
“For parents, it will mean that the choice remains affordable.”
“For teachers, it will mean certainty of funding so they can get on with the job.”
Acting National Catholic Education Commission executive director Ray Collins said it was an improvement on previous changes that had affected poorer families.
“The 2017 changes had jeopardised the future of low-fee, low-expenditure schools in areas where they’ve served families for generations,” Mr Collins said.
However, Mr Collins said that despite fully supporting the changes, it was “fundamental” that Mr Tehan agreed “to review the new arrangements to ensure they continue to support the government’s policy objectives, including parent choice.”
Meanwhile, the Australian Education Union’s federal president Correna Haythorpe said the policy was a “cynical attempt by the Morrison government to buy votes at the next election at the expense of students in our public schools.”
She said Mr Morrison had not settled the funding battle.
“He is wrong,” Ms Haythorpe said.
“We will escalate our campaign in 18 target seats, ensuring that parents across Australia know that it is the Morrison government which has abandoned public school students.”
Federal Opposition education spokeswoman Tanya Plibisek said the deal “looks desperate.”
She said it was an admission that the Coalition had cut billions of dollars from schools but did not rectify $14 billion of cuts to public schools.
She added it was “a completely inadequate response to the $17 billion cut from schools over the next decade.”
Mr Morrison has defended the fairness of the package, claiming government schools still received “record” funding levels and state governments were primary funders of government schools.