Parents will take their children away from private schools if fees increase dramatically. Picture: AAP/Steve Pohlner
Parents will take their children away from private schools if fees increase dramatically. Picture: AAP/Steve Pohlner

Parents fear fee hike with new funding plan

THERE would be an exodus of enrolments from private schools if new funding arrangements forces up fees, according to a national survey conducted by a parents' group.

Families across the country fear how the Federal Government's plans to use their tax returns to work out fair levels of funding will impact them, according to the Australian Parents' Council.

Regardless of whether they were in Catholic and independent education, 85 per cent of parents said they would have "significant sacrifices" if there were higher than expected fee increases, while a quarter said they would move their children to a different school.

In September the Morrison Government announced a $4.6 billion funding boost over 10 years for private schools, including a $1.2 billion fund aimed at keeping fees down in regional areas and low-fee schools.

As part of that deal, the government would use de-identified tax returns of parents to work out how much needs-based funding their school should get, to be phased in over 10 years.

The Catholic education sector lobbied for this model, but independent school groups still hold concerns.

The voluntary survey, completed by 676 parents across the country, found 75 per cent of parents want to know the impacted the likely impact of the new model on school fees, while two-thirds were concerned about the "fairness".

Australian Parents Council president Shelley Hill said she was surprised at the findings.

"This just goes to show that the non-government school sector is far more sensitive to funding changes than many people realise," she said.

She said APC supported the use of the tax data to determine fair funding, but that more needed to be done to explain it, while ensuring other factors like family size and children with disabilities were also taken into consideration.

Meanwhile, school funding negotiations are on the brink, with just three days left for the Queensland and Federal governments to reach an agreement or risk losing $4.2 billion in funding.

There is a hard deadline this Friday and if it is not met Federal funds legislatively cannot flow to the state government to pass on to schools.

Negotiations struggled after the Federal Government announced the $4.6 billion boost for private schools, with Queensland Education Minister Grace Grace demanding an equivalent windfall before signing up to any school funding arrangements.

While deals have been reached with NSW, WA and SA, Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania and the territories are have been holding out.