Students failed by Marshall’s Budget
AEU SA Branch media release: Wednesday 23 June 2021
Investment in public education is always welcome, but this budget misses the mark by leaving many students without learning support they need to be successful.
Instead of addressing skill shortages through much-needed reinvestment in TAFE, the Marshal Government is playing favorites with private for profit training businesses.
Branch President Lara Golding said, “The State Government’s rhetoric is about creating jobs; all the while Steven Marshall is slashing the training courses needed to re-engage people into the workforce. At the same time they are implementing a privatised VET model that is likely to cost students more for lower quality courses.”
Last year the Marshall Government refused to allow TAFE to deliver its popular and trusted childcare, business services and community services courses in a preferential deal for private training businesses. TAFE cannot be expected to increase revenue when Government won’t allow it to offer popular courses.
“Moving TAFE to online delivery isn’t the answer. What is needed is a real commitment to investing in TAFE for the benefit communities across South Australia,” said Lara Golding.
The budget plans for further 73 job cuts in TAFE in the next year.
“It is outrageous that the Marshall Government is cutting jobs in TAFE when we have the highest unemployment rate in the country,” said Lara Golding.
This budget prioritises Year 7s to high school in time for next year’s state election over addressing real and urgent needs in the public education system.
Students with learning needs are waiting for up to 2 years to receive in class support to assist with learning and wellbeing.
Teachers are spending many hours per application to the Education Department for extra funding for individual students only to have their professional judgement ignored and their submission rejected without funding.
There is growing concern amongst the education community that the system is failing to provide learning support for students when they need it. Leaders are voicing their frustrations at delays and parents are feeling like their children’s needs are being ignored.
Ms Golding said, “This budget does nothing for students with learning needs and this budget fails to ensure that public schools will reach 100% of the Schooling Resource Standard any time soon.
“New school buildings are great, but until this Government properly invests in enough specialists, support staff and teachers in schools and preschools to ensure that every child has the support they need to be successful, Marshall is failing to address the real need in education.”
Education Minister John Gardner needs to explain why he is choosing to build a new school in his electorate rather than addressing the capacity issues identified by the Education Department in Adelaide or the inner northern suburbs. Capital works expenditure over the last few years also seems to have favoured marginal Liberal seats like Adelaide, Elder, Gibson, King and Newland. It appears the Minister is feathering his own nest rather than listening to the real needs of students.
We welcome the focus on the early years, but the Government has not addressed the critical issue of support and intervention in preschools.
Teachers and leaders in preschools are already identifying many children who need extra support, but the system is not providing that help when it is needed. The support funding in place in preschools is not nearly enough and the waiting lists for specialists like psychologists and speech pathologists are so long that many children are missing out on assessment in preschool.
According to the Budget Overview, additional interventions and supports identified through the Blue Book program will be delivered within existing resources – which are woefully inadequate.
Jobs in education
The AEU has fought for and won enhanced industrial entitlements for Year 7 teachers at high schools and the budget meets this obligation.
Extra staff are also needed to meet growing demand for public schools and preschools beyond population growth. The hard fought increase in staffing was the bare minimum the Government felt it could get away with. It won’t be sufficient to reduce class sizes or provide the additional support that is so urgently needed by many children.