Kids used as political pawns
Funding stoush: Minister claims kids are being used as political pawns. Picture: Simon Santi/The West Australian

Education Minister Peter Collier claims children as young as three are being used as "political pawns" in the State's school funding battle after students from a southern suburbs primary school sent a pro-forma petition to Premier Colin Barnett.

The Weekend West has learnt the author of the petition was an 11-year-old student at the school.

A day after he accused public schools of hoarding cash, Mr Collier stepped up his battle with opponents of the Government's funding changes by highlighting the "inaccurate" petition, sent by 93 students from Secret Harbour Primary School.

Mr Collier said "most" of the word-processed petitions, which had blank spaces for a student's name and age, were signed by children in the K-3 age bracket and his office has ordered the Education Department to investigate whether the petitions were signed on school time or on school property.

"Due to your educational cuts, I know (sic) longer have literacy or maths specialist's (sic) at my school," the petition says. "We also have less resources and less help, from my teacher due to large class sizes. All because of your cuts. You took away money from our school, because of the math errors you made in budgeting the Elizabeth quay. (sic)"

The author's mother and Secret Harbour P&C vice-president Samantha Prentice said her daughter had been studying persuasive writing in her Year Six class.

"My daughter wrote the letter herself," Mrs Prentice said. "My mum is highly involved with Labor and the unions, her father is a Liberal voter, so she hears a lot of (political) opinions."

A list of school bank balances released by Mr Collier on Thursday showed Secret Harbour had $300,182 in the bank.

"It disappoints me that children, some as young as three years of age, have been used as political pawns in the debate over funding for education," Mr Collier said.

"This particular school has a healthy bank balance and its students, like all students throughout WA, remain the highest resourced of any State."

Labor MLA for Warnbro Paul Papalia said the petition was an initiative of parents.

The West Australian

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