Budget a broken promise for Tasmanian schools

A failure to invest in additional teachers and teacher assistants leaves Premier Jeremy Rockliff’s promise to lead the country in education broken and students falling behind.

Tasmania’s public students, schools and colleges are facing growing pressure to catch up on learning following COVID-19 disruptions, but the State Budget delivered no additional resources to make schools COVID-safe and deliver catch-up learning for students who have missed classes or suffered from teacher shortages.

The Australian Education Union Tasmania Branch presented solutions to teacher shortages and catch-up work following COVID-19 disruptions with 18 ‘Lifting Learning Priorities’ for the 2022-23 State Budget, but State Manager Brian Wightman said too many had been ignored.

Mr Wightman said experienced teachers were being lost due to excessive workload amid a chronic statewide teacher shortage and student learning conditions would worsen unless solutions were supported.

“Teacher shortages and a lack of adequate resourcing has added to COVID-19 disruptions and teachers are at breaking point,” he said.

“The Rockliff Government knows the teacher shortage is affecting student learning and more teachers and in-class support are urgently required, but there’s nothing to address this in the budget.”

“Jeremy Rockliff said his Government would make Tasmania a leader in education by 2020, well the time is past and we have a teacher shortage crisis and very little for student learning in this budget.”

Mr Wightman said $33.7 million in cuts to Tasmanian public schools from the Morrison Government’s Budget put added pressure on the state’s education Budget.

“Every Tasmanian student is funded $1,289 below the minimum standard and since the Rockliff Government failed to convince the Morrison Government to increase funding, it’s now up to them to ensure every child receives 100 percent of the minimum funding they need, currently a 10 per cent increase.”

The Education Union’s ‘Lifting Learning Priorities’ for the State Budget addressed staff shortages and improvements to student learning, including reduced class sizes, and more support for new educators.

The Rockliff Government’s Budget commitment to Safeguarding Children and Young People was welcomed by the Australian Education Union, but Mr Wightman said student learning was what an Education Budget should be judged on.

“We welcome the funding to ensure the recommendations of the 2021 Independent Inquiry can be implemented, including additional school psychologists and social workers,” Mr Wightman said.

“What is missing is the additional teachers and teacher assistants to address the current staffing crisis and deliver on Mr Rockliff’s promise to make Tasmania a leader in education.”