NSW to cut school funding by $148 million

Funding cuts to NSW public schools could climb to $148 million, as part of an announcement from the state government this week.
Funding cuts to NSW public schools

Up to $148 million will be cut from NSW public schools, according to an announcement from the Department of Education.

The NSW Education Secretary Murat Dizdar blamed the “reduced funding” on declining public school enrolments.

The Opposition said principals were “blindsided” by a decision “that will leave students across NSW worse off”.

The changes are expected to impact schools within the coming weeks.

Funding cuts to NSW public schools

Deputy Premier and Minister for Education Prue Car and Secretary Dizdar met with school principals this week before a message was sent to all public school staff in the state.

Car confirmed funding would be reduced by 1.25% ($148 million) for the rest of the year.

Dizdar said student numbers have dropped by nearly 25,000 across NSW public schools over the last four years. He said declining enrolments coincided with increased spending on non-teaching staff.

Under the changes, Deputy Principals and senior teachers will also be required to teach extra lessons to ensure schools have enough “qualified teachers” to lead classes.

Dizdar told principals: “I understand that the change will mean some adjustments in schools. Please know that it is a change that comes from necessity, and we are focusing our efforts on teaching and learning.”

Department of Education cuts

The NSW Government will also cut $1.4 billion over the next four years from the Department of Education’s head office.

Spending will be reduced across areas like advertising and contractors (self-employed or independent workers, typically hired on an as-needed basis to perform specialised tasks or services).

The Education Department said it has “removed more than 600 contractors” already, and that the cuts were aimed at ensuring the department “is focused on supporting schools”.

The fallout

Car defended the funding cuts, saying they would help to put more teachers in the classroom.

Car also dismissed claims that the cuts were tied to a recent teacher pay rise. It’s after NSW teachers became the highest-paid teachers in the country after the government and the Teachers Federation reached a deal last year.

NSW Opposition Leader Mark Speakman said the government has “lost control” of the state’s finances. He said the cuts would lead to declining outcomes for students.

Speakman said the cuts could lead to wellbeing programs and school upgrades being scrapped, as well as fewer “crucial learning support staff”.

The Liberal MP called the timing of the announcement “concerning”.

“The school year is well underway, meaning key decisions have already been made and people have already been employed for specific roles. This is not good enough and our kids deserve better.”

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