We are at a crucial juncture in the fight for the provision of high-quality public education in NSW. The salary agreement we recently won is an historic advance towards ending the teacher shortage necessary to give all students the start they deserve in life. That we still have much work to do to address unmanageable workloads is an understatement.
Our collective efforts amount to NSW teachers now enjoying the best salaries in the nation. I pay special tribute to our outgoing President, Angelo Gavrielatos, who had the foresight to propose the Gallop Inquiry, which created the evidence base to lift salaries.
More broadly, this victory was authored by tens of thousands of teachers across NSW, who campaigned with passion and commitment. They did so because they believe all students deserve a decent shot at life and because they know public education is a critical pillar of a civilised society.
While we should celebrate this success, the journey towards closing the student achievement and resourcing gap is far from over. The disparities within our school system are stark, and the need for comprehensive reform is glaringly apparent. The current National School Reform Agreement has left our state grappling with a funding shortfall of approximately 14 per cent, translating to a staggering $1.9 billion. This equates to 10,000 permanent teachers and an entirely new staffing entitlement for our system, within schools and the non-school based teaching service.
Recent polling reveals the latent support and desire for public education. Nearly half of private school parents would choose public education for their children if the resources were available. There is a clear mandate for change. We will never abandon our responsibilities to advocate for the achievement of the full 100 per cent of the Schooling Resource Standard.
Accordingly, Federation recently resolved to champion the national schools funding campaign, For Every Child, to galvanise support for properly resourcing public education. This will provide an important and powerful boost as we negotiate a new funding agreement.
The impact of a fully resourced public school system is hard to overstate. It would address the needs of many, many more students, including those from disadvantaged communities, students with disabilities, and those in regional, rural and remote areas. It is especially important for our Aboriginal students.
Properly resourced public schools are transformative. Increased recurrent funding and expanded staffing would mean smaller class sizes allowing more one-on-one time for students with complex needs. With equitable distribution, we can focus on areas of greatest need, broaden the curriculum and provide necessary infrastructure. The status quo of private schools building equestrian centres and Olympic pools while public schools struggle with crumbling demountables is wholly unconscionable and unacceptable.
Together, we must stand strong for equitable public education. Australia is a wealthy nation and a quality education ought to be the birthright of every kid.
Our vision is clear. We need adequate funding, expanded staffing, and a steadfast commitment to close the achievement and resourcing gap. Together, we can rebuild our profession and provide every student in NSW with the quality education they deserve.
Let’s stand united in this fight for our students, our schools and our future. Let’s transform this inflection point into a moment of positive change, reinforcing our commitment to ending Indigenous disadvantage and advocating for high-quality public education for all.