Classes cut at WA schools
WA public high schools have revealed the State Government's controversial changes to the way teachers are allocated will affect the range of subjects they will be able to offer students in Years 11 and 12.
WA Secondary School Executives Association president Rob Nairn said many of the 20 principals who attended a meeting yesterday reported they would have fewer teachers and more students next year, which would mean a decrease in services and the number of courses they could offer across all year groups.
"A number of schools are looking at whether they can continue to offer the same breadth of subjects," he said.
"Some schools have indicated they have to rationalise courses and they are counselling students out of small classes into other courses."
Education director-general Sharyn O'Neill said she expected principals to plan curriculum offerings based on resources available.
"In doing so, I would anticipate any upper secondary student not be disadvantaged," she said. "Secondary schools should make it a priority for those students to complete their chosen courses."
Underlining the turmoil affecting schools, Year 11 literature students at Carine Senior High School were told this week they might be unable to continue the subject into Year 12 because of the staffing changes.
Parent Susan Hoskins said her daughter Katie had been told she would have to switch to studying English instead of literature in Year 12 and that some other subjects could also be under threat.
Carine principal Paul Ganderton said in an email to Ms Hoskins that though no firm decision had been made, literature could be cut because the class size of five was too small to be viable and literature was not a prerequisite for any tertiary course.
The Education Department intervened late yesterday, saying cutting the course halfway through senior school was not an option and Carine would have to consider alternatives such as collaborating with a nearby school.
The threat to subject choices comes as two of Perth's flagship schools have challenged figures that Colin Barnett provided to Parliament on the effect the changes would have on teacher numbers next year.
The Premier said Churchlands SHS would gain four full time equivalent teaching positions next year and Mt Lawley SHS would lose one, based on pro- jected student enrolments.
"We dispute those figures," Mt Lawley board chairwoman Jenny Fay said. "We stand by our figures which say we'll lose between three and four FTE. It means we'll have to make some subject decisions and it's likely to affect the range of subject choices in Year 11 and 12."
Churchlands SHS board chairman Mark Lewer said the school had 1445 students this year, with an FTE allocation of 100.5.
Its projected enrolments for next year were 1548. Using the 2013 staffing formula it would have received 106.65 FTE. But using the 2014 calculation gave it 102.16.
"Clearly there are four fewer teachers," he said. "For the Premier to be stating that Churchlands will benefit is misleading."
Education Minister Peter Collier said Churchlands' own figures showed there would be an increase in teacher numbers next year.
"They are claiming that this increase is actually a cut of four teachers because we have not matched the increase in the number of teachers they were expecting," he said.
"It is important to note that WA secondary schools currently have fewer students per teacher than any other State."