How Catholic schools are funded (Part 2) 

Published with permission from National Catholic Education Commission 

In Part 1, we looked at how governments calculated recurrent funding for non-government schools. 

To recap… every school attracts a level of public funding for each student, which is then reduced in non-government schools according to parents’ capacity to pay fees. 

This week we look at how that funding is distributed. 

Non-government schools fall into one of two categories – independent schools and system schools. 

Independent schools receive their recurrent government funding directly from their relevant state and federal governments, i.e. an amount is calculated for each independent school based on the number of students enrolled and any disadvantage funding that apply. The school receives this amount directly. 

It is different for schools that are part of a “system” – such as Catholic schools owned and operated by their local diocese (or state-wide by the Catholic Education Commission of WA, CECWA, on behalf of the Bishops, in Western Australia’s case). 

An individual amount is calculated for each school in the system based on the number of students enrolled and any disadvantage loadings that apply to that school. 

The amounts attracted by each school in that system are combined and paid as a lump sum by the relevant state and federal governments to a state or territory-based “system authority”. 

Lutheran, Seventh Day Adventist and most other faith-based schools each have a system authority. 

In the Catholic sector, these are typically known as Catholic Education Commissions like CECWA in WA. 

Each system authority has its own needs-based distribution model but, broadly speaking, it distributes the government funding to Catholic schools based on enrolments and student needs. 

Governments permit systems to distribute funding this way because it is well recognised that systems have a more detailed understanding of each school’s local needs. 


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