Colin Barnett has rejected Opposition claims that more than 500 teaching jobs would disappear next year under schools funding changes while admitting that staff would be spread "more thinly" across increasing numbers of students.
Opposition Leader Mark McGowan estimated 585 full-time equivalent teaching positions would be slashed next year, in addition to the 500 education jobs which have already been cut.
The Premier said that was incorrect because the total number of teachers would remain the same across the system.
"What we've said and said consistently is that the numbers of teachers for 2014 will be basically the same as in 2013," he said.
"And yes, there will be further student population growth.
"So, if you like, the existing numbers of teachers are spread a little more thinly across the schools."
Asked whether that amounted to a funding cut if thousands more students were expected to swell the system, Mr Barnett said it did not.
"The total FTEs stay the same," he said. "But it does mean that the numbers of teachers compared to the numbers of students is slightly less."
Shadow education minister Sue Ellery said it was clear from the Education Department's staffing allocation document it had amended the formula used to allocate teachers to schools next year, which would result in job losses.
"It's done that in two ways, by reducing a base allocation of teaching FTE for every school across the State and secondly by reducing the formula by which FTE is allocated to Year 8 through to Year 12 in secondary schools," she said.
"The Premier needs to tell WA parents now what each school is losing and what each school is gaining."
Education Department director-general Sharyn O'Neill said though the overall number of teachers would remain the same next year and no permanent teachers would lose their jobs, some temporary teachers on short-term contracts might not be re-employed.The Government refused to release a list of schools that would benefit from changes to the staffing formula. But Mr Barnett told Parliament that based on projected enrolments, Churchlands Senior High School would gain four FTEs and Ellenbrook Primary would gain one, while Mt Lawley and Balcatta SHS would each lose one.