Since 2011, the Liberal/National Government has cut $1.7 billion from education and training, sacked 1100 TAFE teachers and support staff, cut TAFE courses and slashed class contact times and drastically increased student fees by up to thousands of dollars. In 2015 alone, fees have risen significantly, with 40 per cent of students being slugged an extra $500 to $1500 for courses.
Quality education and training is the key to a better job, a better career and a better life — that’s why Labor is committed to investing in skills and training and ensuring we have a fair and equitable TAFE system.
A Labor Government will invest an additional $100 million to help make TAFE affordable and accessible for everyone in NSW by winding back the privatisation of TAFE and stopping the course cuts and fee hikes. The funding will also allow TAFE institutes to reinstate vital courses which have been cut, and restore support services for students.
We have committed that within the first term of Government we will:
- abolish the Liberals’ ‘Smart and Skilled’ privatisation program;
- reverse the Baird Government’s TAFE fee hikes;
- guarantee funding to TAFE by capping the amount of public funds that can be contestable by private operators at 30 per cent; and
- commission a review of education and training post-Year 10.
Protecting the Gonski agreement
The Gonski reforms are the finest educational blueprint this country has ever seen. It was Labor who designed the reforms — and it is NSW Labor who is determined to see every dollar delivered for NSW students.
I am proud to belong to the political party that pledged to transform the way we funded schools to ensure the focus was on those who needed it most.
This Government hasn’t stood up to Tony Abbott — but Labor will. Gonski was never a four-year program. The big gains come in those fifth and six years of the agreement. The next Labor Government is determined to ensure one of our first acts is a formal delegation to Canberra to put pressure on Christopher Pyne to honour the deal.
Labor is determined to support our most vulnerable children and those with special educational needs. We will continue to invest heavily in support teachers as well as reinstate disability support funding for the TAFE sector.
The roll out of the full six years of Gonski funding is a critical way we can ensure students with special educational needs get the resources and funding they need to achieve the outcomes they deserve.
Building 21st century learning spaces
Labor will invest over $1 billion extra in additional school and educational infrastructure to meet the expectations of teachers, parents and students across our NSW schools and TAFE colleges.
This will include new schools in growth areas across NSW as well as upgrades to existing facilities and classrooms for the benefit of our young people.
A Labor Government will dedicate an additional $100 million to replace ageing demountable classrooms across NSW with permanent, air-conditioned classrooms - to give our students the world-class facilities they deserve.
Our school facilities should reflect the high priority we place on education. Under a Labor Government, the schools with the oldest and highest number of demountables will receive priority through Labor’s additional $100 million.
Valuing and supporting teachers
Labor understands that the work demands of our teachers are changing. That is why by restoring a strong Industrial Relations Commission, we will enable public education teachers to run a work value case for the next new Salaries and Conditions Award, making sure future negotiations are carried out in an informed way that reflects the challenges of modern day teaching.
At the beginning of this term of government, the Coalition announced what they call ‘Local Schools, Local Decisions’.
The spin was simple: Principals, not back office bureaucrats, are the best managers of their school. The Government used this policy to decimate the department and cut important consultancy support for schools. But don’t worry, we were told; the principal can employ or not employ the services they need. Just like in the health system, this policy is making sure that the principal delivers the bad news, even though their hands are tied by a budget allocation from treasury.
Labor doesn’t believe this is the way to go.
We are committed to ensuring we have a Staffing Agreement in place that delivers on current class sizes, maintains a fair transfer system and ensures permanency in employment for teachers.
It was a Labor Government who increased the number of teachers in NSW schools and delivered the K–2 class size reductions. We included protection of class sizes in the Staffing Agreement that was negotiated during our time in Government.
We will provide the same protection over the Teacher Staffing Entitlements for schools by including these in the Staffing Agreement.