Danielle Lowe

Funding doubled for NSW independent schools

CATHOLIC and independent schools whose funding was slashed under former Premier Barry O'Farrell will get millions returned in next week's State Budget.

The NSW Government has announced a $50 million increase to non-government schools over the next four years, doubling the current funding arrangement.

The new support will be used to build new classrooms and other facilities.

Association of Independent Schools of NSW director Dr Geoff Newcombe said the decision was recognition of the contribution non-government schools made to the state.

"These additional funds not only support the right of parents to choose the school their child attends, but will also ensure that there are significant savings to the government and community in the longer term," he said.

"Currently, the non-government schools sector saves the government almost $3 billion annually."

Resigned Liberal Premier O'Farrell took an axe to the sector's public funding in 2012, cutting $116 million from the budget over four years.

Dr Newcombe said a minimum of 1800 new classrooms would be needed by 2031 in independent schools alone to deal with an increase of 36,000 students.

"As parents contribute around 80% 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 15-20 years," he added.

Catholic Education Commission NSW acting chairman Peter Turner said Catholic schools would need to accommodate an extra 58,000 students by 2031.

"This will require us to build 131 new classrooms each year over the next 16 years," he said.

The state's 588 Catholic schools will now compete for about $15 million in capital funding each year from the NSW Government.

Mr Turner said Catholic schools' government funding had been virtually cancelled out under the old scheme by infrastructure charges on new school building works.

"From 2012 to 2014, Catholic schools received $21.9 million in capital grants from the NSW Government but were forced to pay $21.3 million in infrastructure charges - charges not levied on government schools."

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