Australian Education Union launches campaign to boost funding for WA public schools

Claire Halliday
Claire Halliday

The Australian Education Union have launched a new campaign aimed at significantly increasing funding in West Australian public schools over the next five years.

The union has launched state-specific ‘For Every Child’ campaigns across the country, with the WA campaign announced on Tuesday morning, 22 August.

The campaign is a response to a recent survey of 752 WA principals and teachers that revealed unsustainable workload levels. More than 70 per cent of respondents said their working hours had increased during the past year.

Wellbeing issues in WA schools were another critical concern for those surveyed, with 73 per cent of teachers reporting that student wellbeing was declining. 90 per cent of respondents reported a decline in teacher wellbeing.

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Of the principals surveyed, more than 40 per cent of principals reported that the number of teachers leaving before retirement had increased during the past year, with 86 per cent of principals stating that teacher shortages over the same time frame had been an issue.

Almost all respondents surveyed outlined four key investments they believed would help student outcomes improve. These included additional support for students with behavioural issues; more time for lesson planning; greater classroom assistance and smaller class sizes.

Federal AEU president Correna Haythorpe said WA public schools were currently funded below the Schooling Resource Standard, which is the minimum level agreed to by governments as necessary to meet all students’ needs.

“Funding public school systems at 100 per cent of the standard across Australia is the only way to ensure every child gets every opportunity to succeed, and we have the teachers we need for the future,” she said.

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“The needs of our children are growing, but the funding from governments hasn’t kept up. Principals and teachers are delivering a great education for students in WA public schools, but they are being asked to do too much with too little.”

Public schools in WA underfunded by $200 million a year

Ms Haythorpe said the ideal scenario is that the state government funding would provide 80 per cent of public school funding, with the remaining 20 per cent funded by the federal government.

But, she said, WA schools were resourced at just 95 per cent, with the state government’s contribution only adding up to 75 per cent.

Plus, because four per cent of the state’s share was taken up by non-school spending, the actual proportion received by WA’s public schools is 91 per cent.

The state government, she said, needed to fully fund 75 per cent – especially given the federal government’s proposal to lift its contribution to 25 per cent by 2028.

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State School Teachers’ Union of WA President Matt Jarman said WA teachers and students were giving 100 per cent and it was “time for the politicians to do the same”.

“We have fantastic principals and teachers in WA public schools and full funding will allow them to increase the individual attention and support each child receives,” he said.

“Smaller class sizes will make a huge difference to children across WA. Full funding also means we can give teachers more time for lesson planning and collaboration and make their workloads more sustainable.

“That will help lift results and ensure we can attract and retain the teachers we need for the future.”

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Claire Halliday has an extensive career as a full-time writer - across book publishing, copywriting, podcasting and feature journalism - for more than 25 years. She lives in Melbourne with children, two border collies and a grumpy Burmese cat. Contact: claire.halliday[at]