The executive director of the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria, Stephen Elder, reached a new low this week with his most recent comments representing an attack on students with disability, their families and the integrity of the teaching profession, said Dr Geoff Newcombe, Chief Executive of the Association of Independent Schools of NSW (AISNSW).
“To suggest, without any evidence, that teachers are exploiting the assessment process when their motivation is to ensure each child in their classroom has the same opportunity as all other students to access a quality education, shows how desperate Mr Elder is to hold onto the special funding deals CECV has benefited from for decades.”
Under the new Nationally Consistent Collection of Data for Students with Disability (NCCD) process, students are assessed according to the level of adjustment they need to participate fully in their learning. This captures a much wider range of students than previous methods which required a medical diagnosis for additional funding to be available.
“The assessment of children with disability and additional needs is complex and there will undoubtedly be differences between schools – whether they be government, independent or Catholic – in how they undertake these assessments and measure the needs of students”, Dr Newcombe said.
“To selectively choose a number of independent schools that work hard to educate students with a disability, and using their teachers and students as cannon fodder in his funding war with the Australian Government, Mr Elder’s behaviour has reached a disgraceful new low.
“If a list of independent schools and their estimated funding levels for 2018 is able to be published, it is reasonable to expect funding estimates for all schools to be published. This includes individual Catholic schools within systems such as the one led by Mr Elder, instead of continuing to hide behind system-level figures that avoid scrutiny of the true funding situation.”
Dr Newcombe said this was particularly relevant in light of the National 2017 NCCD Report which shows that 10.9 per cent of students in independent schools across Australia will attract funding for a disability in 2018, compared with 12.7 per cent in Catholic schools and 12.9 per cent in government schools.
Dr Newcombe also said “Enrolments of students with disability in independent schools have continued to increase at a higher rate than overall enrolment growth, particularly in New South Wales, where independent school enrolments continue to be strong.
“Mr Elder would do well to focus on arresting the continuing decline in the Catholic school enrolment share over the last decade or more instead of seeking to transfer funding from another sector to prop up his own.” —