Centre for Policy Development disappoints – again

‘Parents and policymakers have a right to be disappointed by yet another poorly-argued attack on their freedoms by the anti-school choice brigade,’ Executive Director of Catholic Education Melbourne, Stephen Elder said.

‘It is not unusual for the Centre for Policy Development (CPD) to miss the mark when it comes to proper reporting on education in Australia,’ Mr Elder said.

‘Ideology has triumphed over objective analysis in the CPD’s Uneven Playing Field: The State of Australia’s Schools report, leading to conclusions based on cherry-picked data and spurious assumptions.’

In highlighting the apparent inequity of the education system, the report’s authors have downplayed the impact of government select-entry schools.

‘In Victoria, the simplest analysis of My School data shows government select-entry schools are destroying equity in surrounding schools – particularly in the government sector,’ Mr Elder said.

‘Case in point is the select-entry Nossal High School,’ noted Mr Elder. ‘Since opening in 2011, Nossal has skimmed off highly socio-educationally advantaged students from the local area at the expense of neighbouring schools in the Berwick–Packenham–Cranbourne region.’


School       Suburb       % of students from the most advantaged quartile in 2010   % of students from the most advantaged quartile in 2015  Change from 2010 to 2015 (% points) 
Nossal High School
(opened 2010)
Berwick 47.8 59.0 11.2
Berwick Secondary College Berwick 14.9 10.0 -4.9
Kambrya College Berwick 8.2 7.0 -1.2
Pakenham Secondary College Pakenham 5.6 3.0 -2.6
Narre Warren South P–12 College Narre Warren Sth 9.6 5.0 -4.6
Fountain Gate Secondary College Narre Warren 7.1 5.0 -2.1
Lyndhurst Secondary College Cranbourne 3.4 2.0 -1.4
Cranbourne Secondary College Cranbourne 3.0 2.0 -1.0


‘Even worse, government funding for Nossal breaches the principle of “needs-based” equity that should direct extra dollars to schools that serve less-advantaged student populations. Despite having an elite student body primarily drawn from affluent family backgrounds, Nossal receives almost the same level of funding as the “normal” high schools in its vicinity. The table below demonstrates how select-entry government schools are the primary offenders against principles of equity in Victorian education,’ Mr Elder said.

School Suburb Government funding (2014)
Nossal High School (opened 2010) Berwick $9,860
Berwick Secondary College Berwick $9,792
Kambrya College Berwick $10,737
Pakenham Secondary College      Pakenham $10,628
Narre Warren South P–12 College Narre Warren Sth $10,077
Fountain Gate Secondary College Narre Warren $10,881
Lyndhurst Secondary College Cranbourne $11,498
Cranbourne Secondary College Cranbourne $10,544

‘By contrast Catholic schools offer educational opportunities to a broad cross-section of children throughout the community,’ said Mr Elder, ‘with Catholic schools operating side-by-side with government schools across Victoria.’

Mr Elder was also critical of the report’s forecast that government funding for Catholic schools will soon exceed government funding for government schools. ‘The funding model changed significantly in 2014, with the introduction of the Gonski funding model,’ he said.

‘Making forecasts based on historic trends without even acknowledging this is laughable.’

The author’s recommendation that Catholic school funding be frozen also highlighted the ideological thinking underpinning the report.

‘Public school advocates are always going on about taking funding away from Catholic schools and giving it to government schools. As they state in the report, they want a local government school to be the preferred option for all families,’ Mr Elder said.

‘What the CPD and the Australian Education Union always forget is that the families of 210,000 Victorian children have chosen a Catholic education, knowing full-well the additional burden that decision entails.

‘A funding freeze for Catholic schools is no different to a funding cut, and a funding cut means higher fees for Catholic families. The pressure that this could put on some of our families will undermine their choice, and have them moving into government schools, at a higher cost for all of us.’

Further information contact Michael Pountney, Acting Manager, Communications and Marketing on
0409 860 884 or 9267 0454.


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