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Labor's community charter with Catholic schools [policy statement] [and] A community charter on Catholic schooling.

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Australian Labor

Party National ALP

Jenny Macklin and Mark Latham - Labor’s Community Charter with Catholic Schools

Wednesday, 25 August 2004

ALP News Statements Federal Labor Leader Mark Latham and Monsignor Tom Doyle, Chairman of the National Catholic Education Commission, today agreed to enter into an historic Community Charter.

The Community Charter between Federal Labor and Catholic education authorities will deliver a high standard of resources for all Catholic schools under a Federal Labor Government.

Catholic systemic schools will get increased funding under Labor's schools policy.

Catholics schools educate almost two-thirds of non-government school children. Our Charter will benefit these 660,000 young Australians. Labor has strongly assisted the Catholic education system in the past and we will do it again in Government.

The Charter will allow Federal, State and Territory governments to work with Catholic education authorities to provide high standards in all Catholic schools and recognise the significant community role of Catholic education.

Labor's Community Charter aims to:

● foster a government-community partnership with the Catholic

education system; ● marshal school resources for the benefit of the whole community, as

well as for schools and students in Catholic systems; ● provide a bridge for different communities to build on their common

values; and ● share the resources they need to engage in the full range of

educational opportunities.

The Charter is an important endorsement of Labor's policy to put need at the centre of school funding decisions. In Government, Labor will negotiate the details of the charter with State and Territory Catholic authorities, consistent with the following principles:

● Access: so that children and families are able to afford Catholic

schooling, while also contributing through fees and other sources of private income to growth in resources ● Student welfare: to ensure children in Catholic schools participate in

safe, disciplined and compassionate learning environments ● Educational quality: to provide high standards in curriculum and

teaching, and to encourage school improvement programs ● Planning: including agreed processes for educational planning and the

sharing of resources in a collaborative manner ● Accountability and reporting: to strengthen accountability to parents,

school communities and the public more generally, including agreed standards for reporting on educational, resources and financial criteria; and accountability to government on the achievement of a Labor Government's needs-based policies.

Labor's Community Charter complements and extends the recently announced national agreement with State and Territory governments to give all Australian school students support for a quality standard of schooling.

Attached: A COMMUNITY CHARTER ON CATHOLIC SCHOOLING (pdf format, Size - 38kb)

Authorised by Tim Gartrell, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.


National Agreement on Schooling

Labor has established a national agreement with state and territory governments on schooling - government and non-government. That historic alliance will allow federal and state and territory governments to work together to provide the resources all schools need to respond to the educational challenges in the National Goals of Schooling for the 21st Century - a national standard of resources and achievements.

A Community Charter with Catholic systems

A community charter between the Commonwealth and Catholic Education Commissions would complement this national agreement, by ensuring that all parties work together to provide the resources Catholic schools need to achieve the National Goals of Schooling for their students.

All parties agree with the purposes and principles of a community charter: to foster a government-community partnership with Catholic system authorities; to marshal schools’ resources for the benefit of the whole community, as well as for schools and students in Catholic systems; to provide a bridge for different communities to build on their common values; and to share the resources they need to engage in the full range of educational opportunities.

The community charter would support systems to build and strengthen the educational fabric of all our communities. Schools would work with their own communities and with other schools to deliver the best possible education they can for their students.

This Community Charter recognises the size and comprehensiveness of Catholic school systems, the extent of public reliance on the services they deliver, the levels of public funding for those systems, the contributions for the Catholic community, and their capability for practical forms of reciprocity with government.

The extent to which these principles can be agreed with other non-government school authorities will be negotiated with those authorities.

In the context of these agreed principles, the details of the community charter will be the subject of negotiation with all parties to enable it to be implemented in practice. These negotiations will include the framework set out below.


1. Access

The Charter recognises and supports the principle of access to quality schooling. It guarantees the religious ethos of Catholic schools, and includes agreement on principles for access in two main areas:

(1) Fees: agreed principles and practices for the setting of tuition fees by Catholic education authorities, including for the following purposes:

• fees should not act as a barrier to participation

• fees should match the increases in public funding, as part of the funding partnership towards the achievement of the national school resources standard, making allowance for those schools in greatest need.

(2) Admissions criteria: the Charter incorporates the principle of transparency in system enrolment policies, so as to provide a comprehensive range of educational opportunities within the Catholic community; recognising the potential benefits of cooperation between governments and Catholic school systems, and with other schools where appropriate; and collaboration on the provision of schooling for groups of students with special needs across and within the sectors.

2. Student welfare

A commitment to the safety and welfare of students is fundamental to the Charter. These would be protected through State and Territory registration requirements, and through agreements that include:

Safety: policies and guidelines for school and system practice to protect children and young people from physical, sexual and psychological danger and abuse.

Discipline: a common set of requirements for all schools in relation to student welfare and discipline policies, including contracts between schools, parents and students on their mutual obligations to foster a positive and constructive learning environment at schools. Government to contribute to the resources needed for special programs, such as strategies for severely disruptive students, professional development and the provision of opportunities for the sharing of resources and responsibilities in this area.

Exclusion of students: the Charter to include a common set of guidelines for the exclusion of students in the Catholic and government school sectors; and to encourage collaboration and cooperation between schools and systems for the care of students, where this is in their interest - such as catering for the education of students who have been suspended by other schools or who have participated in approved ‘time out’ programs.


3. Educational quality

Non-government schools are required to meet minimum quality criteria under state and territory registration and accreditation processes. The Community Charter would build on these to provide all schools with the opportunity to reach the highest possible educational standards including in the following areas:

Curriculum: Catholic systems to work in partnership with other educational agencies to provide and develop curriculum outcomes that are required by state and territory curriculum authorities and that contribute to nationally consistent, coherent and cohesive curriculum in key learning areas, while providing flexibility for schools to meet students’ educational needs.

Teaching standards: Teaching staff in Catholic schools to meet criteria for competence, accomplishment and professional leadership as required by teacher accreditation authorities. This may require ongoing professional development for teacher registration and accreditation purposes. Catholic schools and systems would also provide programs and opportunities to reward quality teaching, including incentives for professional development and the recognition of quality teaching in a range of school settings.

School improvement: Catholic schools and systems to develop programs for school improvement, including in the areas of curriculum, teaching, assessment and community engagement, for the benefit of students and to meet future educational challenges and opportunities.

4. Planning

The Community Charter includes agreed processes for educational planning, in cooperation with state and territory authorities, to achieve an appropriate balance between parental choice, the needs of students in all school sectors and the effects of demographic changes in the school population.

These arrangements would be consistent with the principles set out in the National Goals of Schooling for the 21st Century:

Governments set the public policies that foster the pursuit of excellence, enable a diverse range of educational choices and aspirations, safeguard the entitlement of all young people to high quality schooling, promote the economic use of public resources, and uphold the contribution of schooling to a socially cohesive and culturally rich society.

Cooperation and joint planning between Catholic schools and other school authorities will be encouraged in areas of common interest. This could include agreed non-prescriptive cooperation and reciprocity in a range of areas, for example: sharing of specialist staff; diagnostic services for all students; development of community learning centres for homework and other educational programs; and community access to school buildings and facilities for educational, sporting and cultural activities.


5. Accountability and Reporting

The Community Charter recognises that Catholic schools are accountable to their own communities as well as to the public more generally. It builds on the general principle that governments are accountable for the quality of education provided in schools and for the public investment in those schools.

Consistent with the national agreement on schooling, accountability arrangements for all schools will be provided to both levels of government - Commonwealth and State or Territory - and within a national template to remove duplication of reporting while allowing for local needs and for the distinctive purposes of schools in the different school sectors.

Educational: reporting against an agreed framework, including national benchmarks for literacy and numeracy, science, technology, vocational education and training, civics, school retention, participation and transitions to further education, training and employment. Reporting should take into consideration the value added by schools and teachers to the full range of student abilities and needs.

Resources: to include public accountability in such areas as: teaching and other staff profiles; income from all sources; teacher salaries, rewards and incentives.

Financial: accountability to government and to the Parliament to demonstrate that public funding has been directed to the purposes for which the funding was allocated, and that government policy objectives, including needs-based funding, have been met.

An important principle is that the distribution of public funding within the Catholic system will reflect the needs-based criteria for the allocation of funds to all non-government schools.