What is needs-based funding?

Needs-based funding is a methodology by which funds are equitably distributed to schools in accordance with legislation to support the individual needs of a school and its students.

Why needs-based funding?

All schools start with a standard amount for any student in Australia (with one amount for primary schools and another for secondary schools). The Commonwealth Government specifies an amount known as the Schooling Resources Standard (SRS).


Base Funding per Student: Secondary School Examples (2023)
Government School
(All SES Scores)
Discount= $1,703.60 per student
School (SES 90)
Discount= $13,628.80 per student
School (SES 125)

How are the schools in the NSW Catholic Schools System funded?

In 2024, CSNSW will receive a forecast $3.65 billion in funding from the Australian and NSW governments. The schools that make up the NSWCSS will also raise approximately $550 million from school fees and $100 million from other private income, including donations and investments.

The government funding is based on a standard per student, per annum, amount – known as the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) or “base funding”. In 2024, base funding is approximately $13,557 for a primary school student and $17,036 for a secondary school student.

Primary Student

Secondary Student

The base is then supplemented by “loadings” – additional amounts that help cover the needs of student priority cohorts and disadvantaged schools, including:

  • Students with disabilities
  • Students with low English proficiencies
  • Students of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander backgrounds
  • Students with socio-educational disadvantages
  • Small schools
  • Remote schools

For non-government schools, including those in the NSW Catholic Schools System (NSWCSS), the base amount of funding is then reduced based on a school community’s Capacity to Contribute (CTC) to the operating costs of the school. The CTC is a measure of the capacity of the parents or guardians of students to contribute to the cost of educating their child.

The base amount (discounted by the school’s CTC) plus loadings is then multiplied by the school’s “legislatively determined transition share” to make up the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) for that school:

How does CSNSW distribute its funding under the needs-based funding arrangement?

After CSNSW receives the recurrent funding from government funds are distributed to its almost 550 systemic schools via a 2-stage process:

Step 1: As an Approved System Authority (ASA), CSNSW centrally pools all Government funds before distributing them to the 11 Diocesan School Systems (DSS) within NSW.

Step 2: The 11 individual Diocesan Schools Offices (DSO) then deploy or allocate funds to each school within their diocese.

Each diocese is given the prerogative to determine how they deploy or allocate the funds to their schools. That’s because they’re best placed to understand each school’s individual needs, based on local knowledge of the school and its community.

How is the funding used?

Funding is used for a school’s operations, including:

  • Salaries (including principals, teachers and support staff)
  • Operating costs (including administration, marketing, IT and accounting)
  • Property expenses (including maintenance and utilities)
  • Debt servicing costs; and
  • Capital equipment

Funding distributed by CSNSW is to be spent (or committed to be spent) on eligible school-related items in the year it’s received.

Download your copy of the New South Wales Catholic Schools System Needs-Based Funding Arrangement.

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