Government failed to reveal full extent of education cuts: unions

The State School Teachers’ Union, United Voice and CPSU/CSA have accused the State Government of failing to reveal the true extent of its cuts to education.

The State School Teachers’ Union, United Voice and CPSU/CSA have accused the State Government of failing to reveal the true extent of its cuts to education.

Documents released by the Education Department to a parliamentary committee outlined more than $100 million in cuts to the education budget this year.

 “Up until only a couple of weeks ago, the government refused to even admit it was making cuts. Now we find out it’s actually slashing over $100 million from the budget,” said SSTUWA President Anne Gisborne.

The cuts included funding for special programs (SSPRA), managing anaphylaxis in schools and providing Education Assistants to students.

“This reinforces what our members have been telling us for months – these cuts are real, they’re significant and they will hurt our public schools,” said Branch Assistant Secretary of the CPSU/CSA Rikki Hendon.

United Voice Secretary Carolyn Smith said the government had not been honest about the extent of the cuts, despite Minister Collier’s claim schools had known the details for three months.

“The cuts to education are significantly deeper than what was first announced,” she said.

Ms Gisborne said that while many of these cuts had been revealed over the past few months, the full extent had not been known until now.

She also said a $7 million cut to the National Partnership Rewards Payments came as news to the unions.

“This money comes from the Federal Government and is paid as a reward to schools which meet targets in literacy, numeracy, attendance and early childhood studies.

“Those schools deserve that money, but now it looks like it will simply be absorbed by State Treasury and who knows where it will end up.”

The unions accused the Barnett Government of putting the quality of education in WA at risk.

“The Barnett Government is also cutting funding for PEAC programs for gifted children,” said Ms Gisborne.

“In the past, schools often used their SSPRA funding to top up these PEAC programs. But now the SSPRA funding is being cut as well, so some programs may just have to be dropped.”

Ms Smith said the 500 staff who were facing the sack because of the cuts often worked with the most vulnerable students.

“Remember, these are people who are working with children who have numeracy and literacy difficulties,” she said.

“They work with Aboriginal and Islander children to achieve learning outcomes. If these cuts go ahead, it will be WA children who suffer.”

Ms Hendon said the State Government had to start putting WA kids first and reverse the cuts.