More funding needed to introduce needs based funding model

Sunday 20th July, 2014

The Education Alliance has called for the State Government to inject more funding into schools, following the announcementof its student-­‐centred funding model.

The new funding model allocates money to schools based on the number of students they have, as well as their location. Extra funding is allocated for students with learning disabilities, low socio-economic status, or who are Aboriginal.

“While we support the idea of a needs-based funding model, our biggest concern is that the government is trying to implement it on the back of savage cuts to school budgets,” said State School Teachers’ Union President Pat Byrne.

“In our view, this completely flies in the face of what this new funding model is trying to achieve.

“For months and months, both the Premier and Education Minister refused to admit they were even making cuts to education, but their own budget papers show in black and white that they have cut $200 million from school budgets.”

Ms Byrne said the new funding model came as a result of the Teese report, which found that funding had historically been skewed toward the secondary sector, rather than primary schools.

“We would be very concerned if the increase in primary school funding came at the expense of secondary schools,” said Ms Byrne.

“The author of the report, Richard Teese, has been highly critical of the government’s plans to introduce the funding model on the back of budget cuts, and said it was designed to be brought in with increases in funding, not decreases.”

Carolyn Smith, Secretary of United Voice WA, the union which represents Education Assistants, raised concerns about the true transparency of the funding.

“Our members work with children who need an extra hand in the classroom,” said Ms Smith.

“This model puts a huge amount of responsibility onto individual Principals and we need to make sure the funding that is allocated to disabled or Aboriginal students is, in fact, going to cater for their needs.”

Ms Byrne said the introduction of the new funding model would put a big strain on teachers and Principals, who would have to dedicate a significant amount of time learning how to implement it.

“This new model comes at a time of massive upheaval for schools. They have had funding cuts, they have staff cuts and they are preparing for the move of the Year 7 cohort to high school.

“The government has earmarked $10 million dollars for the introduction of the new model to try and make up for what it has admitted will be a decrease in the resources available to some schools,” said Ms Byrne.

“However this money is only allocated for one year and then Principals are going to have to again try and work out which of the programs in their schools they are going to have to cut to accommodate the funding shortfall.”

Ms Smith said it was a disgrace that the government was wasting more than a million dollars of taxpayers’ money on an advertising campaign to sell the new funding model to the public.

“In a time of apparent budgetary constraint, the government is splurging on an ad campaign which is incredibly scant on actual detail,” she said.

“It’s interesting that the government has forced the Education Department to find savings in nearly every area of education, yet it has no problem spending more than a million dollars for its own propaganda.”