The Guardian • Issue #2065

For every child

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2065
Students studying.

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The Australian Education Union has launched a national campaign to secure the full funding of public schools.

The “For Every Child” campaign aims to secure full funding by 2028 to allow public schools to reduce class sizes, increase the one-on-one support for students and provide more time and classroom assistance for teachers.

It includes a comprehensive plan for additional funding and the areas it should be invested in to lift outcomes and close achievement gaps between students from different backgrounds.

AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe said 98 per cent of public schools are funded below the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS), which is the minimum amount governments agreed a decade ago schools require to meet the needs of all students.

“Funding public schools at 100 per cent of the SRS is the only way to ensure every child gets every opportunity to succeed and we have the teachers we need for the future,” she said.

“The needs of our children are growing but the funding from governments hasn’t kept up. Principal and teacher workloads are unsustainable, and more and more teachers are leaving the profession early.

“Our children and teachers are giving 100 per cent. We need the politicians to do the same.

“The Albanese government must take the lead in upcoming negotiations with the states and territories and ensure all schools are fully funded by 2028. As part of that, the Commonwealth’s contribution to public schools needs to rise from 20 per cent of the SRS now to a minimum of 25 per cent for all states and 40 per cent for the NT.”

The For Every Child plan includes results from a national survey of 7808 teachers, principals, and support staff that reveals:

  • 90 per cent of principals report teacher shortages in the last year – almost double the number that experienced them three years ago.
  • Two thirds of teachers say their workload has increased in the last year, and less than 1 in 5 are committed to teach until retirement.
  • There are worrying falls in student and teacher wellbeing with over 70 per cent of principals saying there has been a decline in student wellbeing in the last year.

Almost 90 per cent of principals are taking funding from other areas of their school budget, such as maintenance, due to a lack of funding for students with disability, whose numbers have increased by 29 per cent since 2015.

Over 90 per cent of teachers believe there are four key changes that would help them improve student outcomes: additional support for students with a disability or behavioural issues, more time for lesson planning, more classroom assistance and smaller class sizes.

Principals believe children who have fallen behind in literacy or numeracy and those with a disability or learning difficulties are the ones who would benefit the most from full funding of public schools.

Haythorpe said the campaign includes targeted advertising, events, state tours, and activities in school communities.

“We welcome the commitment of the Albanese government to full funding of public schools but there needs to be a clear timetable established to achieve that by 2028,” she said.

“We also need a permanent Commonwealth capital works fund for public schools to match the one that is in place for private schools.”

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