Teachers fight for funding

Thousands of teachers left work on Thursday to gather at Gloucester Park in protest against proposed education funding reforms.
Thousands of teachers left work on Thursday to gather at Gloucester Park in protest against proposed education funding reforms.

Sixty-two WA schools closed as teachers rallied in Perth to make the Government reverse its decision to overhaul public school funding.

Education Minister Peter Collier said funding would be allocated based on individual need, rather than by school type or programs.

He said teacher numbers would remain the same in 2014 but office and education assistant jobs would be cut. Every child with a ‘genuine need’ for an assistant would have one, he said.

Thornlie principal Paul Billing’s subsequent newsletter said his school would lose about $482,649.

‘There have been suggestions in the media that schools are sitting on $1-3 million bank balances,’ it said.

‘Our current reserve for the replacement of equipment and resources is $296,515.’

Gosnells MLA Chris Tallentire said he was ‘sickened’ by the reforms, said that Labor had promised $30 million to Thornlie and the Government should have signed up to the Federal school reforms.

Armadale MLA Tony Buti said local schools would lose about $2 million, including Neerigen Brook Primary School ($90,500) and Kelmscott Senior High School ($590,000).

‘This is not education reform, these are just cuts,’ he said.

Mr Collier said the Government had not cut funding, but had increased it by $300 million for 2013-14 and the changes to school funding had to be seen in this context.

He said the increase included $93 million for an average 4.15 per cent pay increase for teachers, who had become Australia’s highest paid under this government.

‘Over the past six years, we have increased education funding by around 55 per cent, from $2.8 billion to $4.4 billion, but we can’t continue to increase funding at that rate,’ he said.

‘We are redistributing resources so they go to the schools and students that need them most, and ensuring that children, parents, teachers and taxpayers get best value for our education dollar.’