Blue Hills College Principal David Hobson.
Blue Hills College Principal David Hobson. Jacklyn Wagner

Northern Rivers schools chalk up a win

BLUE Hills College principal David Hobson was relieved to hear Canberra had approved $28 billion in funding for private schools on the last day of Parliament for the year after the Opposition abandoned plans to amend it.

He said the Seventh-day Adventist school in Goonellabah would have closed without the funding, forcing its 219 students from kindergarten to Year 10 to enrol in a new school from next year.

“We absolutely rely on Government funding. Without it to help pay teachers wages we would have gone belly up. Parents just aren't willing or able to pay that amount in tuition fees,” he said.

The Schools' Assistance Bill, that provides funding over the next four years, had been stalled for months in the Senate because the Opposition was concerned about the provision requiring schools to sign up to a planned national curriculum before the curriculum was written.

The Opposition backed down after the Government said the proposed curriculum would not 'mandate particular classroom practices'.

Association of Independent Schools of NSW executive director Dr Geoff Newcombe, said those issues would be resolved once the bill was passed.

“It was critical this Bill was passed today to ensure that independent schools would not be without funding to start the 2009 school year. The approval of the funding secures the future of all non-government schools across Australia,” he said.

More than one million students attend non-government schools nationally, including thousands at independent and Catholic schools on the Northern Rivers.

“Independent schools in NSW can now plan their next four years with much more certainty,” he said.

He said his organisation would work with the Government to resolve issues of the national curriculum 'safe in the knowledge that independent schools would not be financially disadvantaged'.




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