Class sizes to grow

Class sizes in WA schools will increase next year because no teachers are being employed to cope with almost 10,000 extra students.

Education minister Peter Collier’s media minder Russell Yeo confirmed to the Voice this week the state’s 21,000 teachers will have to absorb “less than half a student per teacher” as a result of budget cuts.

A department source says principals are also being told they may have to stop offering upper school courses with low enrolments and send the students elsewhere, despite being given no extra money to pay for buses.

Senior staff will also have to pick up extra work to ensure schools are up-to-date with the curriculum. That work is currently done by teaching staff, but if that is to continue they will be taken out of class and students reallocated.

As of 2014 intensive English centres (IEC) will also lose staff and there will be fewer officers to help Aboriginal students, saving the education department $4 million. There are around 1290 students with English as a second language enrolled in Perth’s metropolitan area, including Mirrabooka, Thornlie and Highgate primary schools.

Around 81 are enrolled at the IEC at Highgate primary, which already had its state funding slashed by $15,662 in a 30 per cent resource cut.

The department source said schools would have to take more responsibility for dealing with the needs of individual Aboriginal students. He said the funding details hadn’t been worked out yet, but school-based funding was finished and teachers would have to work out how to make the reduced funding go further.

Labor MP Ljiljanna Ravlich, a former WA education minister, says they are cuts dressed up as reforms: “These are new cuts that have, until today, been kept quiet by the Barnett government,” she says.

P&C secretary Lisa Jooste says the P&C has discussed the funding cut and is considering a course of action.

by STEPHEN POLLOCK

 

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