The West

Teachers take on State: About 60 Carnarvon school staff members went on strike last week to protest against the State Government’s proposed education cuts.
Teachers take on State: About 60 Carnarvon school staff members went on strike last week to protest against the State Government’s proposed education cuts.

The State Government’s proposed education cuts could have serious implications for Gascoyne schools, according to the State School Teacher’s Union of WA.

SSTUWA Carnarvon representative and music teacher Stuart Wall led a protest rally on Thursday, where close to 60 teachers, educational assistants and other school staff members spoke out against the proposed changes.

The State Government recently announced a 30 per cent cut to the School Support Program Resource Allocation Program and the introduction of a long-service leave levy on teachers.

Mr Wall said the long-service levy would leave Carnarvon Community College about $50,000 a year worse off. But it is the reduction in SSPRA funds that worried Carnarvon schools the most.

“Schools like Carnarvon access a lot of SPRRA funding,” Mr Wall said.

“We specifically don’t know about what is happening with jobs here yet, but it is very likely we will lose some education assistants and Aboriginal education officers.

“For some of the kids we deal with, it is absolutely horrendous there will be cuts — we don’t even want to think it is a possibility.”

WA Education Minister Peter Collier said the State Government would not back down on the changes, because they would ultimately benefit students.

“We are increasing spending on education — the Budget is up $300 million this financial year,” he said.

“Even with that extra $300 million, we have to ask schools to make some savings to cater for the growing demands on the education system and the State Budget.”

The minister said as of 2015, school funding would be allocated on a child per child basis.

Marmion Street campus pre- primary teacher Jodie McCaig said if she lost her assistants, her students would lose out.

“I have two special needs kids and they need toileting, they need extra care and extra activities,” she said.

“If those children don’t have that one to one adult assistance, they are not going to learn anything and there is not point in having them in the classroom.”

Carnarvon’s Egan Street campus was closed until 11.15am on Thursday, while Cleaver Street operated with a skeleton staff and East Carnarvon attempted a normal program.

At Exmouth District High School, only 15 per cent of students attended school while strike action took place.

SSTUWA Exmouth Branch representative Susie Bedford said $170,000 worth of cuts was expected at EDHS, which would affect a combination of resourcing and staffing, in particular education assistants.

“These are the worst funding cuts to education in the last 30 years and (the strike action) is all about the kids. It is not a pay issue at all,” she said.

Ms Bedford said the concern was that the education cuts would make EDHS go backwards.

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