Catholic school families make significant contribution to Western Australia

04 Apr 2022

By The Record

Catholic Education Western Australia is made up of 158 Catholic schools in Western Australia, educating more than 74,000 students, not just in metropolitan areas but in some of the most remote places in the State. Photo: Supplied.

As more families in Western Australia choose a Catholic education for their children it becomes increasingly evident that the story of Catholic schools goes well beyond the provision of quality education and formation in the Catholic faith.

CEWA is made up of 158 Catholic schools in Western Australia, educating more than 74,000 students, not just in metropolitan areas but in some of the most remote places in the State.  Catholic education also provides employment for more than 11,000 West Australians. 

CEWA as one of the largest employers in Western Australia, alongside household names in the mining sector and other well-known large retail groups.

Considering the significant impact that Catholic schools have in providing economic certainty and stability in the communities they serve, CEWA continues to engage with government to improve understanding of the overall contribution Catholic schools make to the education landscape, as well as the financial contribution parents make to the State in choosing a Catholic education.

CEWA Executive Director, Dr Debra Sayce said more than ever before, there was a growing call for the State and Federal Government to ensure fairer funding for education. 

“The cornerstone of CEWA’s mission is to ensure our schools are affordable and accessible so parents can choose the learning environment that best suits their child. 

“The current funding model, while a marked improvement on previous arrangements, means that students in Catholic schools attract 20 – 30 per cent less funding from government than students who attend state schools.  That difference is funded by parents and families through tuition and other fees.”

Dr Sayce estimates the savings to the WA Government alone to be almost $800 million as a result of students attending Catholic schools instead of public schools.

“In addition to saving the State budget hundreds of millions of dollars every year by educating more children than ever in Catholic schools, replicating CEWA’s facilities around the State would cost the WA Government more than $5.1 billion in capital expenditure,” she says. 

CEWA as one of the largest employers in Western Australia, alongside household names in the mining sector and other well-known large retail groups. Photo: Supplied.

This material funding discrepancy is based solely on the choice of parents to send their children to a Catholic school and is not calculated on the educational or pastoral needs of delivering services to each individual student. 

“Almost all CEWA’s capital costs – from buying land to constructing buildings – are currently funded mainly by private contributions, with only Federal level grants contributing 10%.”

“In the wake of COVID-19, Catholic schools are already providing more and more fee relief to families who have been affected financially and would otherwise not be able to afford a Catholic education.”

“It is important for both our State and Federal government to acknowledge that Catholic schools are responsible for educating almost one in five children in the State.  Our schools are inclusive and welcoming to families, regardless of their backgrounds, personal circumstances or financial capacity.” 

Families who choose a Catholic school for their children make a significant contribution to Western Australia and it is our hope that this will be recognised by State and Federal Government alike as we continue our efforts to advocate for educational choice for families.