Catholic Schools seek election commitments from both sides

12/01/2015

Queensland Catholic Education Commission (QCEC) Executive Director, Mike Byrne, and Federation of Parents and Friends Associations Executive Director, Carmel Nash, have written to both Premier Campbell Newman and Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk, asking for formal responses by 20 January.

Schools will then be able to share the responses with parents and staff prior to the poll, which is being held at the end of the first week of the school term.

Mr Byrne said the families of the 150,000 students in Queensland Catholic schools had a right to know the parties’ position on issues directly affecting their children’s education.

“Around 20% of students in Queensland attend Catholic schools, so it is vital that the state government understands the needs of our students and provides appropriate funding and other support,” Mr Byrne said.

“We have asked both the LNP and the ALP to provide responses to five key issues, so that we can share this information with our parents and staff prior to election day.”

  1. Maintaining recurrent funding levels – Catholic schools receive for each student, on average, only 81% of the government funding that state schools receive for each of their students. At a time when the cost of providing education is increasing at a rate faster than the CPI, it is vital that the Queensland Government commits to provide government funding to Catholic schools that keeps pace with these rising costs, to ensure the gap in resourcing between Catholic schools and state schools does not widen.  
  2. Increased capital funding to deliver additional places needed to cover population growth – Government figures indicate that the school-aged population of Queensland will increase by around 300,000 students by 2031. On a pro-rata basis, that means 60,000 additional places will be required in Catholic schools, requiring the  opening of at least two new schools every year and the expansion of others. State capital funding needs to be
    increased to cover the cost of providing this infrastructure.
  3. Meeting the needs of students with disability – Between 2008 and 2013, the number of students with disability attending Catholic schools increased by 92%. Catholic schools are seeking continuing state government support through the provision of support and advice from departmental or other specialists on a fee-for-service basis; the inclusion of the Catholic sector in trials aimed at improving service delivery to students in regional and remote areas; and continuing collaboration on service delivery and professional development for teachers.
  4. Improved Vocational Education and Training (VET) – Adequate resourcing needs to be provided to cover the cost of providing vocational education and training in diverse school settings and communities, while strengthening school-employer engagement. Catholic schools would like to expand the list of VET qualifications funded for girls in particular, while more appropriately assisting schools that are delivering higher-cost VET courses, There is also a need to provide indexation of seed funding to support school-based apprenticeships and traineeships (where there has been no increase since 2009).  
  5. Strengthening parent engagement – Parental involvement is vital to help children succeed in their studies. Catholic schools would like to work collaboratively with the state government to support strategies aimed at enhancing parent engagement, including the funding of the Catholic sector’s recently-developed framework for parent engagement, along with a bank of resources and standards that will enable schools to measure
    their success. There is also a need to develop a strategy to connect schools with child care and early learning providers, so parents can ensure children are better prepared for their entry to Prep.   

Mrs Nash said Catholic school parents wanted to make an informed decision at the ballot box on 31 January.

“Many of our families make enormous personal sacrifices to enable their children to attend Catholic schools, so they have a very real interest in knowing that the major political parties share their commitment to making education a top priority,” Mrs Nash said.

“Parents need to know that the government will provide adequate infrastructure and resources for their children to learn the skills they will need in our rapidly-changing world.”

Mr Byrne said QCEC and schools had good relationships with Members of Parliament from all political parties and was hopeful that this would continue.

“Education is a partnership that involves the home, the school and the government and we are grateful that this is recognised by both the ALP and the LNP.

“We look forward to working with whichever party forms government after the election, and to sharing with our parents the commitments given by the parties prior to election day,” he said.