Education support is Paramount, truancy officers and staffing cuts don’t equate

Monday, March 24, 2014

The state and federal governments are failing to support East Kimberley schools, undermining efforts to close the education gap and improve school attendance, the Australian Greens said today.

"Remote East Kimberley schools, including those in Halls Creek, Kalumburu and Balgo, have less teaching staff and less capacity to deliver outcomes for students, making it impossible to address the factors that contribute to poor school attendance," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues said today.

“The complex issues which prevent kids going to school need broader and more comprehensive solutions than truancy officers which is all we're getting from Tony Abbott.

"The Greens support the full national implementation of the Gonski schools plan, but the Barnett Government has continued to ignore the needs of the most disadvantaged regions and government schools in the state.

"Instead of Gonski, the Abbott Government has allocated only $273m over 4 years for WA schools, but without a requirement to meet the Schooling Resource Standard. 

"Kids with hearing impairment, foetal alcohol syndrome, other learning or language difficulties, malnutrition or a lack of sleep, face a set of challenges and need better support than is being provided.

"In addition to implementing the Gonski reforms,  we need to ensure that enough resources are dedicated to quality teaching and suitable class sizes to deal with the needs of many children in remote communities, including investments in bilingual education, more language and culture in schooling, full time parent liaison officers and parent support groups.

"Colin Barnett has cut the WA education budget by $120m in the past year. These cuts to education in WA have resulted in a reduction of about 600 teachers across the state. These cuts have been most severe when it comes to Special Needs teachers, Aboriginal Education Officers and Education Assistants, people who play an essential role in addressing the factors that contribute to truancy problems.

Robin Chapple, Greens member for the Mining and Pastoral Region who was in Kununurra over the week end was critical of the staff cuts to the Kununurra District High School.

“Losing 3 teachers and 3 Aboriginal Education and Officers Education Assistants from the KDHS means less support for children with learning difficulties and other problems, exactly the opposite of what should be occurring!”

"The Greens believe that in a caring society every child has a right to a quality education regardless of where they live," Senator Siewert concluded. 

In Kununurra there will be a community Day of Action (strike) on 1 April at Whitegaum Park at 10am

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