Statewide solution to inequity involves raising the school staffing entitlement

System failures are denying the necessary resources and staffing that schools need to realise the potential of rural students, says Federation Acting Deputy President Henry Rajendra.

When touring areas of the New England and North-West last week, Mr Rajendra witnessed first-hand the widening achievement gap that exists between metropolitan and country students.

“More needs to be done in regards to permanent staffing, schools funding, supporting Aboriginal students and those with disability and the inadequate provision of public pre school education. There’s a gap out there, and it needs to close,” he said.

Federation campaigns over many years have been primarily driven by the need for increased funding to the public school system in order to meet the learning needs of all students, not just some. Indeed, the Gonski funding achieved to date was been determined on this basis. However, the Department’s Local Schools, Local Decisions policy has denied the public school system opportunities to develop statewide structural reforms in areas of permanent teacher staffing, curriculum offerings, and targeted learning programs across all equity areas.

Of significant concern remains the shortage of teachers to cover those absent on leave or attending professional learning courses.

“This issue cannot be resolved by simply calling for more casual teachers. It is a fallacy to believe there is a legion of casual teachers being held back by the Department just waiting to be deployed,” Mr Rajendra said.

“Instead, we are calling for the expansion of every school’s staffing entitlement by employing additional permanent, specialist, qualified and accredited teachers. Such a measure would reduce the teaching load of all teachers to facilitate inbuilt teacher relief arrangements.”

Federation will continue to pursue with the State Government and the Department an end to Local Schools, Local Decisions and, in its place, genuine statewide reforms in the interest of students, teachers and the NSW public school system.