Strike won’t sway government

At least 21 schools closed in the south metropolitan area on Thursday as teachers went on strike to protest against the Liberal Government cuts.

Mr Johnston said cuts would include a freeze on teacher numbers, a reduction in education assistants and 30 per cent reduction for school support programs. ‘Schools in the Cannington electorate will lose $1,774,940 in funding as a result of the Barnett Government’s cuts to education,’ he said.

Labor estimates these measures will mean the average West Australian primary school student would suffer a $305 funding cut and the average secondary school student would suffer a $457.50 funding cut.

‘This is not education reform, these are just cuts and the students are the ones that will suffer,’ Mr Johnston said.

‘Not only will there be a reduction in teacher numbers, but now the government’s reform states that classes will need to have 27 students.

‘This means that a number of schools in my electorate which only have a small number of students doing advanced maths and physics, will not be able to proceed because of the Barnett Government’s cuts.

‘The effect of the budget cuts proposed by the Liberal Party will be detrimental to children in our community.’

Education Minister Peter Collier said the State Government had increased spending on education.

‘The budget is up $300m this financial year and over the past six years, education funding has increased by around 55 per cent, from $2.8 billion to $4.4 billion,’ he said.

‘Between 2008 and 2013, student numbers have increased by only around 9 per cent.

‘Even with an extra $300 million, we have to ask schools to make some savings to cater for the growing demands on the education system and the State Budget.

‘All schools will have to tighten their belts, with a reduction in some funding.

‘However, claims of massive cuts to schools is simply not correct. The changes represent a very small part of total resourcing provided to schools, an average of less than 1.5 per cent.’

Mr Collier said he was disappointed by the teachers’ industrial action on Thursday.

‘The industrial action disrupted our schools, interrupting the learning of children and inconveniencing parents and families,’ he said.

‘The government will not be changing its position because the changes we are implementing are necessary.

‘They will lead to a better, fairer system for schools and students.’