Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones joined Prime Minister Julia Gillard and School Education Minister Peter Garrett to listen to the concerns of Catholic and Independent school representatives about cuts to schools in NSW in Canberra yesterday.
Stephen Jones said the meeting was an opportunity to discuss the ramifications of the NSW Liberal Government’s funding cuts to education including a funding freeze for non government schools. “After agreeing to work with us on our National Plan for School Improvement, Barry O’Farrell’s Liberal Government abruptly slashed funding to education.
“Local schools have every reason to be concerned. Our meeting yesterday confirmed that cuts to funding for non-government schools will mean higher fees, bigger classes and fewer curriculum choices,” Stephen Jones said.
Ms Bird said “The NSW Government’s education cuts also hit public schools and TAFEs, increasing TAFE fees by up to $150 for students.
“The Gillard Government is committed to education reform in Australia. We have been very clear that we think funding for schools should increase as part of our goal to make our education system among the world’s top five.
“We are prepared to invest more in our schools over time, but that has to be a shared goal. State and territory governments need to pay their fair share.
“We will not allow increased Commonwealth funding to be used as a substitute for reductions in state funding to schools,” Ms Bird said.
The Prime Minister and Catholic and Independent School representatives agreed on the need to progress school funding reform to ensure every school would see its funding rise.
“We are determined to deliver these essential school funding reforms for the benefit of students across the country,” Ms Bird said.