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Catholic schools losing poor families, says Cardinal Pell


Sydney's Cardinal Pell has intervened to cap school fee increases in line with the Consumer Price Index in order to stem the drift of students from poorer families away from Catholic schools.

"I worry that there are not enough youngsters from poor families in Catholic schools and I was concerned about the financial cost to all Catholic parents," Cardinal Pell said yesterday, according to a Sydney Morning Herald report.

"I feel that any extra burden on parents should be capped at the Consumer Price Index," he added, explaining why fee increases at Catholic schools have been capped at 2.2 per cent for 2007.

The fee clampdown contrasts with Sydney's elite independent schools - including some Catholic independent schools which are not part of the church's parish-based school network - which have increased fees by up to 53 per cent since 2002, the Herald report says.

The Sydney Archdiocese has set average fees for 2007 at $1632 for year 11 and 12 students. Fees for kindergarten and year 6 children start at $780 for the first child.

The executive director of schools for the Sydney Archdiocese, Br Kelvin Canavan, said fee discounts had also been provided to help parents meet the cost of sending their children to a Catholic school.

Although Catholic schools had a tradition of enrolling students from families on limited incomes, data from the federal Department of Education indicates Catholic schools have become increasingly middle class, the Herald says.

The archdiocese has also lifted its sibling discount, so second children in primary schools are charged fees of $585 and $390 for the third. The fourth child and any others are not charged fees.

In Catholic high schools, discounts for siblings have also been increased, to $1224 for a second child and $816 for the third brother or sister.


SOURCE
Pell puts brakes on school fee rise (Sydney Morning Herald, 14/9/06)

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Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney

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14 Sep 2006