Push for available funds to improve teaching and learning conditions

Federation will campaign to ensure ongoing funding in the NSW public education system is best used to improve teaching and learning conditions, delegates affirmed at Annual Conference.

Delegates also endorsed Federation continuing to work with the Australian Education Union to campaign in support of students with disabilities. “For too long the federal government has failed to implement loadings commensurate with the needs of these students. These needs involve significant increases in both recurrent and capital funding to provide additional permanent staffing and new infrastructure,” the Annual Conference resolution on schools funding states.

The schools funding decision states Federation will continue to:

  • advocate for budgetary and industrial measures (for example a statewide staffing agreement, class sizes) necessary to fully resource NSW public schools
  • campaign for fair funding for public schools, including removal of the 80:20 funding cap
  • expose the flawed funding priorities of state and federal governments
  • monitor, and where appropriate, seek negotiated implementation of reforms associated with the bilateral funding agreement.

ederation President Maurie Mulheron said capital funding continues to be a national disgrace. “The physical facilities in our schools are in many cases embarrassing,” he said. “It’s just a source of shame to walk into schools where professionals and kids are treated like that.”

He said students leave a public school with toilets that are 40 years old and never refurbished and go to their local shopping centre to see toilets that are cleaned four or five times a day, there’s not one single electric light that’s broken, everything is repaired in hours and there’s no such thing as a trip hazard.

“It’s bright and shiny and clean and well-built, to house crappy consumer goods, yet the school that they’ve just left that afternoon has toilets 40 years old, threadbare carpet. That capital investment has to be one that we keep pursuing.”

Union delegates noted the “cumulative success of recent schools funding campaigns has resulted in the reversal of state government funding cuts and a subsequent injection of billions of dollars in recurrent funding to the public education system” in the decision.

“The re-election of the Coalition in NSW and at a federal level, with no clear path for public schools to reach 100 per cent of the Schooling Resource Standard, will present an ongoing serious challenge for public school resourcing levels in NSW and Australia.”

In response to a question from the floor, Mr Mulheron said: “The great success of this campaign is 15 years ago the only conversation in the public domain around funding was parental choice should be the sole determinant of funding policies … we turned that around to an issue of excellence through equity … Our challenge now is to make sure that there’s no retreat on that notion of having funding according to need.”

Annual Conference endorsed the Australian Education Union leading a review of the schools funding/federal election campaign. Federation may seek additional feedback specific to NSW. “This process is critical in order to consolidate strengths of the recent campaign and to identify areas to be addressed in future phases of the national and state campaigns,” the Annual Conference decision states.