Tasmanian Catholic schools call for help to lower start age

Moves to standardise school starting ages across the country will cost Tasmanian Catholic schools $60 million in the first year, according to the State Catholic Education director.

The Mercury reports that primary school enrolment ages will be standardised across the country by 2010 if Federal Education Minister Julie Bishop's policy is taken up by the states. Tasmania's school starting age is five.

State Catholic Education director Dan White said he welcomed "in principle" the Federal Government's policy but warned there were significant costs associated with the change and said Tasmanian Catholic schools would require major assistance to be able to fully implement this change over 14 years.

"Our projections indicate that nearly $60 million in today's costs would be required to implement this change in Tasmanian Catholic schools," Dr White said.

"The policy would result in a 50 per cent increase in the number of students entering school in the first year of implementation. Instead of 1000 children entering kindergarten in Catholic schools, in that first year we would have 1500.

"We would need to build new classrooms and employ more teachers to cater to that increased number of students in that year. This is beyond the capacity of our system to provide."

Dr White warned that Catholic schools would not be able to implement the new policy unless government funding was provided.

"Even the first year of implementation it would require an injection of funds of over $5 million," he said.

Dr White called for further detail from the Federal Government on how it would provide support for those school systems required to change and how they would be financially assisted.

He said the move to standardise school starting age would help large numbers of students who moved between states each year and suffered disruption to their studies due to the variations between states.

Lower church school starting age assessed at $60m (Mercury 5/7/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Education Office, Hobart

Tassie Catholic school boom is front page news (CathNews 8/2/06)

6 Jul 2006