School blitz fund­ing call

The Sunday Times - - NEWS - JOSH ZIMMERMAN

THE teach­ers union is de­mand­ing the McGowan Govern­ment com­mit fund­ing to its new hard­line stance on vi­o­lence in schools, warn­ing any pol­icy change that is not ad­e­quately re­sourced is doomed to fail.

Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Sue Ellery an­nounced a wide-reach­ing re­view into vi­o­lence in schools in March. She has said the re­sult­ing ac­tion plan, due in com­ing weeks, will “draw a line in the sand” af­ter phys­i­cal at­tacks by stu­dents on teach­ers more than tripled from 165 in 2014 to 595 last year.

Top of the State School Teach­ers Union of WA wish list, ap­proved by mem­bers at this week­end’s coun­cil con­fer­ence, is money for al­ter­na­tive ed­u­ca­tion op­tions for vi­o­lent and se­verely dis­rup­tive stu­dents, so they can be pulled out of main­stream school­ing.

Other de­mands in­clude: MORE fund­ing for the State’s net­work of Be­hav­iour and En­gage­ment Cen­tres, so they can both pro­vide out­reach ser­vices and ac­com­mo­date stu­dents that need to be with­drawn from main­stream schools.

THAT the Ed­u­ca­tion di­rec­tor­gen­eral be told to use her pow­ers to forcibly re­lo­cate vi­o­lent stu­dents to al­ter­na­tive pro­grams.

MONEY be made avail­able to in­crease staffing lev­els ded­i­cated to stu­dent ser­vices and class­room sup­port for teach­ers.

Ms Ellery has al­ready in­di­cated she ex­pects to see an in­crease in sus­pen­sions and ex­pul­sions for vi­o­lent be­hav­iour un­der her new plan, but SSTUWA pres­i­dent Pat Byrne said a change in pol­icy could not work in iso­la­tion.

“If we as­sume, for ex­am­ple, there are go­ing to be in­creases in the num­ber of kids sus­pended or ex­cluded, that means the depart­ment has to be able to cater for those stu­dents,” Ms Byrne said.

“It would be a dis­as­ter if in three months time the depart­ment said, ‘Sorry we can’t deal with the num­bers (re­quir­ing al­ter­na­tive place­ments) any more’. The min­is­ter’s whole po­si­tion would lack cred­i­bil­ity.”

The union also wants the needs of teach­ers and by­standers put above those of vi­o­lent of­fend­ers.

Ms Ellery would not say whether ad­di­tional fund­ing would be made avail­able to im­ple­ment her plan, which was due for trial next year.

“The ac­tion plan will in­clude clear, long-term poli­cies about when stu­dents should be sus­pended or ex­cluded, have priv­i­leges re­moved, what a school’s duty of care is and how to man­age re­peat of­fend­ers,” she said.

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