Equity funding and principal release under threat

2020 is the second year that small schools have received additional teaching principal release time. This much-needed support is provided through the additional Gonski equity funding that was delivered following years of campaigning. However, the State Government now considers Gonski equity funding as discretionary spending, which it may cut if it is unable to freeze public sector employees’ salaries.

Such a suggestion is a clear threat to teaching principal release time, the temporary and casual teaching positions that support this release time and many other essential programs that have been made possible due to Gonski equity funding.

Additional teaching principal release has allowed schools to:

  • better support their staff in an instructional leadership capacity through in-class support e.g.
    • team teaching
    • assessment
    • working with students 1:1
    • modelling best practice
    • the provision of opportunities for staff to conduct peer observations
  • create extra classes and so reduce class sizes
  • form two classes in one-teacher schools for literacy and numeracy as well as other key learning areas, enabling more time to support individual student needs and improved student outcomes
  • manage administrative tasks more effectively, resulting in less take-home work
  • focus on the wellbeing of self and others
  • better support staff in meeting their professional learning needs and enhancing the effectiveness of the Performance and Development Plan process.

This Gonski funding initiative is also the first time principals in environmental education centres have received executive release. Teaching principal release time has been invaluable for these schools, for example:

  • increased time to support staff in meeting their professional learning needs
  • development of new programs and improved resources resulting in improved learning outcomes for students
  • completing mandatory compliance tasks (e.g. work health and safety updates) during school hours rather than out of hours
  • easier to schedule meetings with the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Assets and other stakeholders
  • the ability to be released from teaching to work on programming and professional learning
  • implementing Quality Teaching Rounds to empower teachers.

While the significance of this funding is beyond question, based on the current position of the State Government it is clear that members must engage their communities, teachers and local State MP to gain their support in securing maintenance of current Gonski equity funding.