Education cuts concern MLA

Peter Collier.
Peter Collier.

Mr Johnston said the figure was based on the Education Department’s latest estimate that total cuts to WA schools would be $103 million next year.

He said Education Department director general Sharyn O’Neill provided the information in a document to a parliamentary committee.

‘The bulk of the cuts will be coming from the School Support Resource Allocation,’ Mr Johnston said.

‘Also having a big impact will be the leave liability levy (of) $600 per teacher and $400 per support staff.

‘This will mean bigger class sizes.

‘The Government has put a freeze on teacher numbers for next year, and it is estimated there will be 8000 additional students across WA.

‘The $103 million included a number of new cuts, including a $370,000 cut to teacher allocations for the PEAC (Primary Extension and Academic Challenge) program for gifted students.’

Mr Johnston said $2.3 million would be cut from the Aboriginal and Islander Education Officers (AIEO) program.

‘The cuts to the AIEO could have a devastating impact on Aboriginal education in Cannington,’ he said.

‘These officers are critical to ensuring local Aboriginal children are given additional assistance and are given every opportunity to overcome any unique challenges they may experience.’

Education Minister Peter Collier said public schools, including those in the Cannington area, were well resourced.

‘Since 2007-08, expenditure on education has increased from $2.8 billion to an estimated $4.4 billion in 2013-14,’ he said.

‘In this financial year alone, the budget has been increased by $300 million, or 7.3 per cent.

‘It is not sustainable or appropriate to simply increase expenditure at the same rate each year without reviewing how money is allocated to ensure the best value for each education dollar.’

Mr Collier said a review by the University of Melbourne found that the current model for distributing funds to public schools in WA was complex, inflexible and out-dated.

‘To address these issues, the Government is implementing changes on two fronts,’ he said.

‘Firstly, we will be introducing a new student-centred funding model in 2015 that will allocate funding on a child by child basis, based on individual student needs, rather than by school types or programs.

‘Secondly, as we transition to the new funding model, changes to school resourcing allocations will be implemented in 2014.’

He said the Aboriginal and Education Islander Officer had been changed to a fairer model so that Aboriginal students received the same level of support regardless of their year level.

‘In relation to the Primary Extension and Academic Challenge program, I can assure parents that this program is continuing.

‘I expect very little change in the provision of programs for talented young students.’