Quality education for all requires us all

Federation has launched a statewide campaign aimed at achieving tangible improvements and equitable resourcing for students with disability in public education, seeking the strength and resolve of the entire membership to ensure all children receive a quality public education.

Rebecca Loevendie, Federation Representative at Coffs Harbour Learning Centre, the only School for Specific Purposes (SSP) on the Mid North Coast, welcomed the campaign.

“Our students and staff cannot continue to wait as the government denies the funding and resources our students need,” she said.

Currently, students with disability are the only group of students not to have received any additional loading under the National Education Reform Agreement (Gonski) funding increases. There has been no increase to targeted funds, such as the Integration Funding Support (IFS), and no improvement in the base loading for support settings. The only additional funds are the modest amount announced for the Disability Strategy.

The delay or denial of such crucial support for students with disability, across all settings, has negative consequences on schools, children, families, peers and the staff seeking to support all involved. It also limits the ability for the public education system to cater for the diversity of needs in our schools.

The Time to Act campaign seeks to improve resourcing across all schools and for all students, but has identified some specific demands for support settings, including:

  • doubling of release time
  • increase in executive entitlements
  • improvements to the needs-based class size formula
  • provision of secondary specialist teachers.

SSPs and support units represent the NSW public education system’s intensive tier of intervention. These settings are tasked with providing specialist level support to students with complex needs, in the overwhelming absence of “specialist” resourcing.

“In some ways we’re lucky [at Coffs Harbour Learning Centre]; students in many other regional areas do not have access to an SSP, but at the same time, even in a setting like ours, the resources are just not adequate”, Rebecca said.

“Allied Health would be a big one for us. Our school counsellor allocation is less than a day a week — our students really need that resource available on a full-time basis, but that is only one example of how our students are denied the support they need.”

As a part of the campaign, Rebecca and other members at her school attended a local association meeting to share examples of the inequity and need, as well as successes.

“It is an important time to come together as a union and declare It’s Time to Act,” she said. Rebecca urged members to stand in solidarity for students with a disability and their teachers.

Please follow #TimeToActNSW on social media, visit the campaign page at www.nswtf.org.au/timetoact, and contact your local Organiser with any questions.