Teacher numbers not keeping pace with student growth

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The State School Teachers’ Union is concerned that despite a record number of students enrolling in WA public schools, teacher numbers are not keeping pace.

SSTUWA President Pat Byrne said although the government said it had funded 550 extra teaching positions this year, the number of teachers had been steadily declining over the past three years.

“Even allowing for the additional 550 teachers, Department figures show that there are only 39 more teachers in the system this year than there were in 2012, despite student numbers increasing by about 33,000 over the same period,” she said.

“This means that teacher numbers have only increased by 0.159%, while student numbers have increased by 12.6% over the same period.

“The figures show there were 24,541 teachers in the system in 2012. This dropped to 24,140 in 2013 and decreased again in 2014 to 24,030, which is a loss of a total of 511 teachers.

“So while we have had an increase in the number of teachers this year, we’re almost no better off than we were four years ago.”

Ms Byrne said with teacher numbers not keeping pace, class sizes were rising.

“We are concerned that the dramatic increase in student numbers will lead to even bigger class sizes, which means less individual attention for each student,” she said.

“On top of this, the system will have 500 fewer Education Assistants to help teachers, particularly with students who need extra attention.

“Not only are we concerned about the outcomes for at-risk students, but for all students in the class, as teachers cannot spread their attention around to everyone.”

Ms Byrne said the government needed to return some of the almost $200 million it had cut from the education budget to ensure the provision of high quality education can be retained.