AEU SA Journal:  August 2021: Contents

A platform for student support

What are our asks of politicians for schools and preschools in upcoming state and federal elections? Lara Golding outlines the goals.

Your AEU has developed a community platform on student support in schools and preschools. We developed this platform in consultation with our members and a wide range of organisations and experts to ensure the platform was informed by those who currently use the system to access support for students and children.

Our platform development was underpinned by the establishment of a public education roundtable including principals’ associations, the Preschool Directors Association, parent groups, NDIS providers, non-government organisations, University of South Australia academics, the Commissioner for Children and Young People, and a Commissioner for Mental Health.

The key message from our members and these community groups has been the urgent need for additional support for children and students. We will be campaigning at a state and national level for more funding and policy improvements for schools and preschools to provide that support.

Our key ‘asks’ for schools and preschools would require a considerable investment – one that is long overdue. The costs of these ‘asks’ is estimated to be in the order of $170 million – or about a 6% increase in funding compared to a current expenditure of $3 billion on public schools and preschools.

By agreement between State and Federal Governments, public schools are currently funded at only 93% of the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) – a funding shortfall of 7% each year.

To achieve these improvements, we will need state and federal political parties to commit to properly and fairly funded public schools and preschools.

We are seeking assurance that an elected State Government negotiate with the Federal Government to ensure that South Australian schools receive 100% of the SRS, and a commitment to addressing the urgent concerns relating to support for students and children.

Our campaign can make a huge difference to the level of support available to students and children and your workload.

As endorsed by our Branch Council in June, the goal of our state campaign is to convince all political parties to commit to:

  • Increased and ongoing funding for public schools and preschools in South Australia to permanently employ at least 1,000 additional teachers and support staff, providing support and intervention for students with additional needs;
  • At least 150 additional specialists and allied health professionals employed across the system to assess and support learning needs and mental health concerns;
  • High quality, sustained professional development for teachers and support staff on inclusion, differentiation and challenging behaviours; and
  • A reduction of ASETO/ACEO ratio from 1:50 to 1:30 to provide more support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their families.

The investment in these urgent priorities will cost the State Government about a quarter of the money the Marshall Government is planning to spend on the new sports stadium.