CATH NEWS REPORT: The launch of a revamped My School site could be delayed for months, after Schools Minister Peter Garrett was forced to concede that financial data for some private schools contained serious errors, reportsThe Age.
He has confirmed that the site, due to go live today, will not be launched until next year.
Mr Garrett yesterday said accounting firm Deloitte had identified flaws in the methodology used to report schools' repayment of loans on the website. This had led to the website incorrectly stating that some private schools had incurred losses, when in fact, they may have sold assets to repay loans.
Mr Garrett said Deloitte had identified circumstances that led to a ''mis-statement'' of income for independent schools. ''As a consequence of that, the My School website will go up in 2011, but not until I am absolutely confident that all of the material on the site is accurate in every way,'' he said.The Age has learnt the man in charge of the My School website - Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority chief executive Peter Hill - apologised for failing to communicate adequately with schools when he met Catholic and independent school representatives and parent groups this week.
While independent schools applauded the launch delay, public education advocacy group Save our Schools said the delay exposed the ''hypocrisy and double standards of the federal government''. It said the government had caved in to the private schools lobby while ignoring concerns raised by government schools when the first version of the website was launched.
Mr Garrett denied that the decision to delay My School had anything to do with concerns over the Index of Community Socio-Education Advantage (ICSEA) rankings, which are used to group so-called ''statistically similar'' schools, to enable parents to compare their literacy and numeracy test results.
''Those other issues that have been raised around ICSEA ratings and the like will continue to be worked through,'' he said.
Meanwhile, the Sydney Morning Herald reports that the executive director of the Independent Schools Council of Australia, Bill Daniels, said funding private schools receive will not be adequate to help them expand so they can teach some of the more than 737,000 extra children expected by 2020.
While the impact of the growth in number of school children would initially be greatest in government primary schools, by the time they reached secondary school 378 new Catholic schools and 334 new independent schools would be needed, based on enrolment trends, Mr Daniels said.
''That is impossible under the current funding arrangements,'' he told a forum in Canberra, hosted by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research. ''You could not actually do that under the current mix of private and government for schools.''
Mr Daniels said his council would argue at the government's Gonski review of school funding that all students, regardless of family wealth, should receive some government support for their education.