Not enough desks for students
Shortage claim: Teachers say education cuts are biting. Picture: The West Australian

Some schools do not have enough chairs or desks for all students in a class because of State Government cuts to education funding, according to teachers who have responded to a union survey.

The Weekend West has obtained teachers' comments drawn from some of the more than 600 responses to a survey on the effects of the cuts that the State School Teachers Union is using as part of its justification for a teachers' strike next month.

One teacher from a northern suburbs high school complained: "Furniture not enough to seat all students in an oversized class."

A Goldfields teacher raised similar concerns: "More students than desks. Increases behavioural issues. Less one-on-one with many students."

A teacher from the Wheatbelt wrote: "We have gone from ten classes last year to nine this year. Our enrolment numbers have remained the same."

A northern suburbs primary school teacher wrote: "A trolley of 16 laptops to be shared by seven Year 4-5 classes."

Camps and excursions have been cut or reduced at a country high school, while a southern suburbs school has lost its nurse.

Other teachers said they were not allowed to do colour photocopying, could not use computers because they did not have a working printer and were forced to buy supplies for their students with their own money.

SSTU president Pat Byrne said members had made clear they were facing cuts in many areas, which placed pressure on their ability to teach students.

Education Minister Peter Collier said it was extraordinary the union had released selected comments from a survey that would not close until March 28.

"Surely this compromises the integrity of its own survey and I would question whether the union can be sure that the final survey results will not be prejudiced by the release of these comments," he said.

"In my view, the selected release amounts to a 'grab bag' of comments with no measurable data and analysis."

Mr Collier said he wanted to reassure parents that the Education Department had not received evidence of class sizes exceeding agreed limits.

"In the first few weeks of any school year there are always some issues to be ironed out," he said. "As student numbers are confirmed through the census, this can result in staff changes at schools, as is the case every year.

"If any public school is having difficulty arranging classes in the most effective way or accessing essential resources, they should contact their regional executive director."

The West Australian

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