Title

Catholic Schools and Poor and Disadvantaged Students: How the Sydney Catholic school system is responding to the challenge

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2009

Abstract

In a recent Pastoral Letter the Bishops of New South Wales challenged Catholic schools to increase the enrolment of Catholic children from low-income families who are increasingly attending government schools. National census data indicated that only one-third of such students attend Catholic schools. The enrolment of these students is frequently linked to the issue of tuition fees and levies charged to offset the 20% gap between the costs of schooling and the grants which schools receive from government. This is a source of disappointment and embarrassment to those responsible for Catholic education. While there is a longstanding policy in the Archdiocese of Sydney that no Catholic child will be denied a Catholic education through a genuine inability of the family to pay fees, the fact remains that many needy Catholic families do not seek enrolment in Catholic schools. Situated in the context of the global economic crisis, this article outlines a range of initiatives taken in the Archdiocese of Sydney to reach out to students who are poor, disadvantaged or who have special needs. It uses current definitions of poverty and disadvantage, and adopts a wide frame of reference to address the needs of students in Catholic schools over many decades.

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