Independent boost marked in NSW budget
New South Wales schools are keenly awaiting next week’s state budget, which will reportedly include an extra $50 million dollars over four years for non-government schools under the Building Grants Assistance Scheme.
If it happens, it would be a 100 per cent increase on current funding levels.
The new money is aimed at low- and medium-fee independent and Catholic schools across NSW.
“Demand for school places is increasing across NSW and this funding recognises the significant role non-government schools will play in meeting that challenge,” NSW education minister Adrian Piccoli said on Friday.
“The NSW Government supports the right of parents to choose the type of education that suits their child, while ensuring a high quality public education system is also available.”
The Association of Independent Schools of NSW says it has some strong needs, with demand for places in independent schools alone requiring an additional 1800 new classrooms to allow for 36,000 extra students by 2031.
“It is pleasing that the government has heeded calls from the independent schools sector to support parent choice in this way,” Association of Independent Schools of NSW executive director Geoff Newcombe told reporters.
“As parents contribute around 80 per cent of the costs of independent school infrastructure, this improvement in funding will support the significant investment and commitment parents make to the education of their children over the next 15 to 20 years.”
The big cash injection reverses cuts made under the former O'Farrell Government to capital funding for independent and Catholic schools.
Greens Education Spokesman John Kaye says it effectively deprives public schools, which will need 385 more classrooms each year to match the growing number of students.
“Parents calling for new public schools in growth areas across the state have been sold out, as money that should be building new classrooms disappears into the unregulated private sector,” Kaye said.
“The Baird Government is condemning public school students to over-crowded facilities while pushing parents into the independent and Catholic sectors.”