Principal warns of tough times as govt showdown looms

by Brett Henebery18 Feb 2015

The lack of Government funding is threatening crucial school programs, says a leading voice in Independent education.

Michael Gavaghan, chairperson of the Victorian Association of Catholic Primary School’s (VACPP), says that Catholic schools in particular are feeling the pain of rising costs as the state’s schools struggle.

“From my perspective, things are certainly tougher in schools here at the moment,” Gavaghan told The Educator, adding that there has been a “significant drop” in targeted school funding in the state.

“Catholic schools in particular are feeling the pain of rising costs,” Gavaghan said.

“The National Partnerships funding, which was of particular benefit to low SES schools, was around up until the end of last year, but there hasn’t been anything to replace it since.”

Gavaghan added that crucial programs which support children with disabilities and family-school partnerships have been operating at a “reduced capacity”.

“The More Support for Students with Disabilities (MSSD) initiative has been reduced in its capacity along with areas which have family-school partnerships.”

However, a spokesman for Federal Education Minister, Christopher Pyne, denied that cuts are being made to VIC schools.

"There are no cuts to Commonwealth Government funding to Victorian schools. Commonwealth government has honoured all its election commitments on school funding and funding is flowing as agreed," the spokesman told The Sunday Age.

Gavaghan said that schools and students are missing out on “magnificent benefits” because of the funding shortfalls.

 “We’re certainly anticipating what could be some really magnificent benefits to schools and kids should we be able to get this funding flowing through as promised,” Gavaghan said.

“However, the politics currently being played around how long Gonski will be funded means a lot of uncertainty for us.”

The latest Productivity Commission report revealed that Victorian state schools still get the lowest government funding of schools in Australia - with each student receiving almost $2000 less than the national average.

The VIC State Government is now poised for a showdown with Tony Abbott over the state’s school funding, accusing Canberra of short-changing students and vowing to prioritise the issue ahead of the 2016 election.