IST today called on both State and Federal Governments to urgently provide substantial increased funding support for students with high needs disabilities in independent schools.
Executive Director Tony Crehan said: “With the introduction of the so called “Gonski” funding formula, separate funding targeted to students with disabilities was discontinued and replaced by a loading in the school recurrent funding formula. However, under this current model, students with disabilities attract identical loadings regardless of their level of need and unless years 5 and 6 of the model are maintained only a portion of this loading will be delivered.
Government and Catholic school systems, which receive their funding as a block amount can allocate funding to students with disabilities differentiated according to their individual levels of need. This is not possible in the independent school sector because government funding is paid direct to each school.
The nationally consistent collection of data (“NCCD”) over the past three years classifies students according to different levels of adjustment for adequate in-school support but this data is not considered sufficiently robust as a basis for differential funding.
IST submits however, that it is relatively simple to identify individually those high needs students requiring substantial or extensive adjustment and to measure the cost of adjustment, which in many cases exceeds $30,000 per year. This would enable the provision of meaningful government funding to assist them.
Of the 9,000 students enrolled at Tasmanian independent schools, 3.6% require substantial or extensive adjustments, a higher percentage than in the government and Catholic school sectors.
IST acknowledges that the Federal government has provided additional funding for these students for 2016 and 2017 but as this amounted to on average $1200 per student over two years, it is miniscule in comparison to the cost burden on independent schools and parents.
Education Ministers meet in Hobart tomorrow but will not consider school funding proposals. Inter-government agreement on school funding beyond 2017 is unlikely to be achieved before June. IST therefore urges both State and Federal Governments to address this desperate need in their May budgets.”