Cuts may hurt re­mote study

Pilbara News - - News - Glenn Cord­ing­ley

■ Stu­dents liv­ing in re­mote parts of the Pil­bara will be­come more iso­lated and dis­ad­van­taged be­cause of State Gov­ern­ment fund­ing changes, a peak rep­re­sen­ta­tive body claims.

The five Schools of the Air are lo­cated in Port Hed­land, Carnar­von, Ger­ald­ton, Derby, and Kal­go­or­lie.

They pro­vide ed­u­ca­tion for many chil­dren liv­ing on iso­lated pas­toral prop­er­ties, min­ing leases and com­mu­ni­ties lo­cated in the re­mote ar­eas of the State.

As of 2016, fund­ing will be di­rected for each stu­dent en­rolled in ev­ery school.

Iso­lated Chil­dren’s Par­ent’s As­so­ci­a­tion WA (ICPA WA) State pres­i­dent Liz Sud­low said that un­der the new ar­range­ments, each of the five schools are set to lose $50,000 to $60,000 per year for the next five years un­til 2020.

She said that rep­re­sented a 25 per cent cut in all five of the schools.

Ms Sud­low said at the end of the an­nounced five year tran­si­tion, the schools will re­ceive no ad­di­tional fund­ing to com­pen­sate for the tyranny of dis­tance be­tween the lo­ca­tion of school and its stu­dents.

“These changes will have se­ri­ous ram­i­fi­ca­tions for the stu­dents and their fam­i­lies,” Ms Sud­low said.

“Most of the stu­dents live hun­dreds of kilo­me­tres from the schools and have no other way to ac­cess ap­pro­pri­ate ed­u­ca­tion.

“The cuts will mean stu­dents liv­ing in re­mote ar­eas of Western Aus­tralia will be even more iso­lated and dis­ad­van­taged, with higher teacher/stu­dent ra­tios and less money for vi­tal ed­u­ca­tional re­sources, camps, teacher vis­its and home-tu­tor sem­i­nars.”

Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Peter Col­lier said the Schools of the Air “are, and will re­main, in­cred­i­bly well-funded”.

He said the av­er­age al­lo­ca­tion per stu­dent for 2016 was $30,290, com­pared to $12,088 for all other pri­mary stu­dents. He also said there was one teacher for ev­ery five-to-six stu­dents.

“This com­pares to a teacher-to-stu­dent ra­tio of one teacher for ev­ery 16 pri­mary stu­dents else­where in the State,” he said.

“The re­al­ity is Schools of the Air are not us­ing all the money al­lo­cated to them. Last year, the five schools car­ried over be­tween $200,000 and $300,000 each. This means an av­er­age 23 per cent of their en­tire bud­gets went un­spent.”

Mr Col­lier said it was only fair ed­u­ca­tion money went where it was needed un­der the new Stu­dent Cen­tred Fund­ing Model.

“The State Gov­ern­ment recog­nises Schools of the Air have spe­cial re­quire­ments, and that’s why they will con­tinue to re­ceive ex­tra al­lo­ca­tions un­der Stu­dent Cen­tred Fund­ing,” he said.

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