Principal's Blog - 3 August 2017

02 Aug 2017

Dear members of the Marcellin College family,

I was speaking with a friend of mine the other day who is about to embark on a trip overseas. I asked him about the itinerary for his journey and he told me that he had an idea of where he was going but had decided not to plan every aspect of his time away as he was more excited at the prospect of allowing things to just unfold naturally. He said that it was all part of the adventure. Personally, I have to say that I prefer a bit more certainty when I travel, however I understood his point. Sometimes it is good to just let things happen and enjoy the ride.

There are some aspects of life where perhaps this life philosophy is far less applicable. For example an ad hoc approach as described by my friend is not one which I would apply to my health. Similarly, it is also one which would not be wise where financial matters are concerned. I think we all sleep a little more soundly when our financial standing is one which is based on a solid ground.

Unfortunately, in education at this time our financial environment is one located on shifting sand. There is currently some uncertainty about how our Catholic schools will be funded in the future. 

In recent times there has been much debate in the Media and in Parliament regarding the future of Education funding, particularly with regards to Catholic Schools. Our Catholic Schools have been tirelessly represented at a National level by the National Catholic Education Commission and more locally by the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria led by Stephen Elder. A few weeks ago the Federal Government passed legislation regarding changes to the funding arrangements for all Australian schools. Unfortunately at this time I cannot tell you how these changes will impact on funding for Marcellin College. In the information below I have attempted to provide a little slice of clarity in the midst of this uncertainty.

  1. Under the new legislation Catholic Schools in Australia will receive less funding than that which was recommended by the original Gonski review from 2012 into Funding to all Australian schools.
  2. Catholic Education has won a major concession in that the Government has committed to a review of the Socio Economic Status (SES) model of determining funding to schools. This current funding model which determines the capacity to contribute of parents and care givers to the education of their child in a non-government school is one which clearly does not provide an accurate indication of the financial status of families in Catholic Schools. The review panel includes Dr Lee-Anne Perry, who is Queensland’s Catholic Education Commission (CEC) Executive Director, who said she will bring the perspectives of Catholic schools to the panel’s table, as well as her own experience as a teacher, principal and education administrator
  3. The Education Minister Simon Birmingham, has indicated that there will be no change to current funding arrangements in Catholic Schools for 2018 while this review is carried out.
  4. There will be a change to the way students with disabilities are funded in all schools. Catholic schools educate a growing proportion of students with a disability. Under the Quality Schools Package funding for students with a disability will be allocated based on new data collected as part of the Nationally Consistent Collection of Data on Student with Disability. There are many questions relating to the accuracy of this data and therefore more information and clarification is required.   

Recently I received a letter from the National Director of Marist Schools Australia, Dr Frank Molloy. In his message related to changes to funding for Catholic Schools across Australia, Dr Molloy stated:

What is clearly at risk is the existence of Catholic Systems of Schools, which have been the bedrock for Catholic Education in Australia since 1972, supported by successive Federal and State Governments, both Liberal and Labor. Our long established and effective school systems know the actual needs of each student in each school and have the ability to ‘distribute funds according to need'.  This is what happens in public school systems. Our Catholic Systems have importantly given us capacity to plan and grow new schools in a coordinated, cost effective, and cooperative manner.

Considering the fact that a review of the model used to determine funding to our schools will take place in 2018, it is not yet possible to provide a clear understanding of the impact on tuition fees for Marcellin College, or any Catholic school in Victoria for that matter. Having said that, it is always our intention as a College to ensure that the impact of these changes is contained as much as is practicable as we continue to focus on the needs of the young men of Marcellin.

I will keep you informed of any developments in this matter as information comes to hand.

Mark Murphy