“Educators and families warmly welcome a state budget that in six months has gone from $109 million in cuts to education to no cuts and delivers previous promises, including an additional 87 FTE in teaching staff and 80 FTE in Education Support Personnel,” said Helen Richardson, AEU Tasmania President.

“While not obvious in the budget papers, the Education Minister has assured us that per student funding growth for public schools is occurring at a higher rate than non-government schools, recognising the sector with the greatest need and strong enrolment growth.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic reminded all Tasmanians just how valuable our teachers, principals and school staff are. Investment in public education is the best strategy for a recovery that is lasting and fair.”

“We are disappointed to find no significant boost to school psychologists, social workers and youth workers to support students in tackling underlying issues that prevent them from focusing on learning. There should be at least one school psychologist for every 500 students but school psychologists will continue to have close to 900 students each.”

“This budget still doesn’t address a chronic shortage of speech therapists and other professional support staff so children will continue to wait for a year or more to get the urgent assessments and support they need.”

WAGES

“The Minister was right to recognise that wage increases will assist broader spending and confidence in our economy, and we look forward to seeing this attitude reflected when EBA negotiations re-commence next year.”

“Teacher Assistants remain some of our lowest paid workers. To attract and retain the best of the best in teaching we need to offer wages and conditions that reflect that aim.”

INVESTMENT

“The Liberal government has committed Tasmania to “lead the nation in education”, but we will require significant levels of investment to make that pledge a reality and make up for the Federal Government’s funding shortfall.

“Most schools will still fail to reach the minimum Schooling Resource Standard that ensures every child gets the quality education they deserve.”

“The AEU is working closely with the Department of Education to tackle excessive teacher workloads that leave students missing out, but the quickest fix would be to invest in more support staff and more teachers to reduce class sizes.”

“Tasmania has the highest rates of disadvantage of any state so we need additional support staff and teachers, so students get the support and time they need.”

MIXED MESSAGE ON TAFE WITH GOOD MONEY AFTER BAD

“The Government is set to throw good money after bad with $1 million that will largely fund a private board and CEO in direct competition to Drysdale TAFE.”

“We’ve seen a long history of rorts and poor quality training from private providers and we’ve recently seen significant problems with the latest government-preferred private provider Foundry in Launceston where TAFE was once again overlooked.”

“The $1 million should go to TasTAFE to deliver better quality hospitality and tourism courses and a better deal for Tasmania in the long run. We need cooperation and investment across the board, not more competition.”

“The AEU acknowledges the $2 million in additional targeted staffing for TasTAFE, $21 million in capital works and a further $21 million for low and no-fee VET courses, but regrets that this news is overshadowed by a misguided and wasteful spend for an RTO.

EDUCATION INITIATIVES THAT ARE WELCOME:

Students with disability

“The additional transition spend to support a “needs-based” model of funding for students with disability is welcome.

“It is a model supported by parents, advocates, and the AEU and we are seeing an increasing number of students eligible for support and therefore, we expect funding needs will continue to increase. It’s good to see a corresponding increase in funding in the budget, both for this transition time and in the years ahead.”

“It is not yet clear that the money budgeted will be enough to meet student need, but we will get a clearer picture in the months and years to come.”

80 Education Support Personnel

“Maintaining an election commitment to employ the equivalent of an additional 80 Education Support Personnel is welcome and it is the AEU’s intention to ensure the majority become qualified education support specialists working with students who need that extra support.”

“Education Support Specialists are great for students and it also gives Teacher Assistants a career pathway with a good incentive to achieve a new qualification and expand their skills and responsibilities.”

Support for students with trauma and behavioural issues

“Having recognised the increasing numbers of students with trauma in our schools last year, it is most welcome to see an increase in funding in this budget to begin addressing the complex needs of students affected.”

“For too long teachers and support staff have had to manage the impact of home trauma on their students and classroom with little support, it is great to see this being addressed.”

Needs-based funding here to stay

“The Tasmanian Government deserves to be commended for committing to needs-based funding in our schools – it’s a common sense, fair funding approach.”

“Unfortunately, while the model is good, the funding is still insufficient and while this is largely due to shortfalls from the Federal Government, this budget is a reminder that the Tasmanian Government must pick up the shortfall until their federal counterparts step up, or it is students that will continue to miss out.”

New child and family centres

“Early support for young children in disadvantaged communities is vital and we know the Child and Family Centre model is highly successful, so we welcome the investment and additional facilities we have been advocating for.”