Minister  uses class  sizes to  justify cuts
Small increase: Average public school class size increased by less than one student this year. Picture: The West Australian

Average class sizes in WA's public school system increased less than one student this year, torpedoing the doomsday claims of the teachers' union and the Opposition about funding cuts, according to Education Minister Peter Collier.

The Weekend West can reveal Education Department data for 2014 shows the average class size was the same or smaller from kindergarten to Year 3 than in 2008, the final year of the Carpenter Labor government, and about one student bigger from Years 4 to 10.

Compared with last year, class sizes were up in all year categories between 0.6 and 1.5 students.

Average sizes in all years are below the maximums prescribed in the teachers' collective employment agreement with the Government by between 0.6 and 5.8 students a class.

"For months I've been saying that our schools are well- resourced and now we have the proof," Mr Collier said.

"The average class sizes in WA public schools are far below what teachers agreed to in their last EBA.

"I'm very disappointed that Labor and the unions have been running a dishonest campaign about education funding and class sizes to scare parents."

Mr Collier acknowledged class sizes had grown since last year but said they were "completely appropriate".

But Labor and the State School Teachers Union said average class sizes were a poor measure across such a large and diverse range of public schools.

Shadow education minister Sue Ellery, who visited nine schools this week, said she "entirely disputed" Mr Collier's claim that his cuts had not been damaging.

One school in Perth's inner eastern suburbs had to axe a social worker, chaplain hours, a before-school reading program and extra mathematics tuition as a result of cuts to its funding, she said.

SSTU deputy president Samantha Schofield said the issue was not class sizes but about cuts to programs, excursions, resources and a greater workload for staff.

The West Australian

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