Survey reveals WA teachers paying for student supplies - July 31st 2014

The State School Teachers’ Union has expressed concern after a survey of more than 1200 teachers found that 98% were paying for classroom items out of their own pocket.

The survey found teachers had spent an average of almost $1000 of their own money on school supplies over the past year alone.

SSTUWA President Pat Byrne said teachers reported spending their own money on basic items such as textbooks, pens, paper, reading books, paint and glue.

“It is absolutely disgraceful that teachers are having to dip into their own pockets just to make sure their students have essential items,” said Ms Byrne.

“The survey also revealed that 70% of teachers said they were spending more on classroom items since the State Government cut funding to schools.

“Despite the Education Minister and Premier denying for months that they were making any cuts to education, their own budget papers show they have ripped $200 million out of school budgets.”

The survey revealed teachers spent an average of $450 in Semester 1, 2013 compared with $545 in Semester 1, 2014, which was an increase of 21%.

Ms Byrne said despite them spending their own money, 70% of teachers also said they believed their students were going without needed resources because of the government’s funding cuts.

“Almost 74% of teachers also said the government’s funding cuts had reduced the amount they were allocated to spend on students in 2014. Teachers are being told their school simply doesn’t have any money left in the budget,” she said.

“Some of our members told us they feel they are expected to make up the shortfall because parents and the community expect a certain standard of education, which they are trying to deliver.”

The survey showed several teachers had spent around $5,000 of their own money over the last year. Other teachers reported spending money on food for children who came to school hungry.

Ms Byrne said the survey cast doubt over the Education Minister’s repeated claims that WA schools were the best resourced in the country.

“If WA schools are so well resourced, why are teachers having to pay for basic supplies themselves?” she said.

“The fact is that, on a per capita basis, WA does not spend the most on education, with both the ACT and the NT spending more per student than this government does.

“We think the government needs to re-examine its spending priorities. It’s ridiculous that it has wasted almost $2 million of taxpayers’ money on a propaganda campaign about education, while at the same time students are missing out on basic necessities.”

Ms Byrne said schools would be under even more strain next year, with the Education Department predicting there would be an extra 9,200 students in the system.