5 March 2024

NSW Teachers Federation urges State and Federal governments not to sell rural public schools short

| Jarryd Rowley
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teacher protest

NSW Teachers Federation president Henry Rajendra (front, left), State Member for Wagga Wagga Dr Joe McGirr and staff from Kooringal High School are calling on the Federal Government to come to the table and deliver appropriate funding. Photo: Jarryd Rowley.

NSW Teachers Federation president Henry Rajendra made the trip to Kooringal High School on Tuesday morning to seek appropriate funding from the State and Federal governments for public schools.

According to the federation, the most recent National School Reform Agreement, which was only agreed upon in December 2023, has left NSW public schools with a funding shortfall of 11 per cent or $1.9 billion.

Mr Rajendra said this had resulted in 276 teacher vacancies in schools across the rural south and west regions.

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“It is evident that our rural communities are missing out on necessary funding so they can provide the required number of teachers and additional resources to meet the needs of all students,” he said.

“This is an urgent matter. Our schools have been underfunded for a very long time, particularly from the federal level. We’re calling on the Prime Minister not to short-change our children. Stand up for our public schools in rural areas and across NSW.”

Mr Rajendra explained that of the 298 schools across the south and west regions, 93 per cent were impacted by teaching vacancies, resulting in overworked teachers and students missing out.

“This money [federal funding)] is critical,” he said.

“If we want to close the gap between the advantaged and the disadvantaged, we [NSW teachers] need this money urgently.

“Proper funding would mean more teachers, delivering smaller class sizes. This would allow more one-on-one time for students with complex needs.”

Mr Rajendra called out Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, saying it was time for him to step up and stop delivering pivotal public funding to Sydney’s wealthiest private schools.

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An Australian Education Union report released on 24 February showed that Cranbrook School in Sydney spent more on its own facilities, $63.5 million for a new pool and fitness/drama facilities, than the Federal Government did on 2549 public schools across the state.

The report also found that the Commonwealth Capital Grants program, aimed at delivering funding for disadvantaged schools, provided funding to two of the state’s wealthiest schools, Loreto Normanhurst and Newington.

“There’s no better investment than giving students the education they need and deserve,” Mr Rajendra said.

“Premier Chris Minns and Deputy Premier and Education Minister Prue Car are doing their bit by lifting salaries to tackle the teacher shortages. But now it’s time the Prime Minister joined the effort.”

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