School jobs slashed

Thursday, 22nd November, 2012

By Darrin Manuel

The Broken Hill District Education Office appears set to lose around half of its staff but the NSW Education Minister doesn't know exactly which jobs are being cut.

Department of Education and Community documents obtained by the BDT confirm that 7.5 of the 16 positions at the local office will be "deleted" as part of a "restructure".

Education Minister Adrian Piccoli appeared on 2BH radio recently and faced a number of questions regarding the State Government's plan to restructure education and slash $1.7 billion in funding over four years.

NSW Teachers Federation Western Region Organiser, Brett Bertalli, said Mr Piccoli gave an evasive performance for local listeners.

"He was asked a lot of questions and I don't think he even answered one adequately," he said.

Mr Bertalli said the Minister's lack of knowledge in relation to staff losses at the BH Hill District Education Office was particularly concerning.

"There's currently 16 positions there and 7.5 of them are reported to go," he said.

"These are the positions who support schools with literacy and numeracy, curriculum development, student attendance, student welfare, behaviour support, special education and equity programs to close the gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students.

"Mr Piccoli was asked how schools would cope without the support positions and who would complete the work done by the people within those positions now, to which Mr Piccoli indicated he did not know what the positions did, who was in the position and how many would go.

"He just has no idea of the impact these cuts are making." Mr Bertalli said the Minister also "demonstrated his ignorance" by suggesting that the cost of educating students had increased by only 1.6 per cent.

"In an attempt to defend the slashing of $1.7 billion dollars from the education budget over the next four years, the Minister praised his own government for spending an extra $3.8 million on education this financial year.

"This equates approximately to a 3.2 per cent increase. The Australian Bureau of Statistics recorded a 6.1 per cent increase to the cost of educating a student over the same financial year.

"One would think the Minister for Education would consider the CPI increase before he allowed his treasury to rob $1.7 billion from our children."

Mr Bertalli encouraged parents to join teachers in defending the rights of the State's schoolchildren.

"Adrian told parents not to believe the scaremongering of the Teachers Union but couldn't tell the audience what positions will be deleted, what effect this will have on schools or how much it now costs to educate a child.

"I urge you to visit the puttingstudentsfirst.org.au website to learn how you can help protect your children from the O'Farrell governments funding cuts."