Billboard rolls into Hunter urging PM not to shortchange local kids

The Prime Minister and local federal Labor MPs will be urged to fully resource public schools across the Hunter region during a series of campaign events that highlight the need to give all kids a decent shot at life.

The Teachers Federation campaign billboard will stop in each federal seat across the region, highlighting how the National School Reform Agreement has left NSW public schools grappling with a funding shortfall of approximately 11 per cent, translating to a staggering $1.9 billion this year alone. This equates to over 10,000 permanent school-based teachers.

Across federal electorates in the Hunter, public schools make a profound economic and social  contribution:

Electorate    Number of public school students Percentage of total students
Shortland16,55473.8 per cent
Newcastle17,74268.3 per cent
Hunter 17,13566.2 per cent
Paterson18,75467.5 per cent

“It’s time for the Prime Minister to step up,” said Henry Rajendra, President of the NSW Teachers Federation. “Private schools in Sydney which receive substantial public funding, are splurging on unnecessary vanity projects such as equestrian centres and Scottish castles, while public schools are missing out.

“There is an overwhelming moral, economic and political opportunity for Labor to back the hardworking teachers and hugely deserving students in their own electorates.

“We will be relentless in making this case.

“Premier Chris Minns and Deputy Premier and Education Minister Prue Car are doing their bit by lifting salaries to tackle the teacher shortages. But now it’s time the Prime Minister joined the effort.

“Proper funding would mean more teachers, delivering smaller class sizes. This would allow more one-on-one time for students with complex needs.”

Inequities between public and private schools are also becoming starker with capital funding. A report released by the Australian Education Union on 24 February highlighted the gap, with one Sydney private school, Cranbrook, spending more on a new pool and expanded fitness and drama facilities in 2021 ($63.5 million) than governments spent on 2,549 public schools which educate over 472,000 students.

For NSW schools it also found:

  • A 30% growth in demountables between 2011 and 2022 to over 5,000.
  • No ongoing capital funding from the Commonwealth despite calls from the NSW Government.
  • The Commonwealth capital grants program for disadvantaged schools delivered funding to two of NSW’s richest schools, Loreto Normanhurst and Newington.
  • Average annual per student capital investment 2012-2021 was $1,052 for public and $2,331 for private.
  • Knox Grammar and Shore spent $222.9 million on capital works in the five-year period 2017-21 –  more than was spent on public school capital works in the entire state of Tasmania over that time ($186.6 million),

“There’s no better investment than giving students the education they need and deserve,” Rajendra said. “It allows them to explode out of the starting blocks and contribute back to their community and the nation.”