“Funding cuts of this magnitude will make it much harder for teachers in the classroom” … Opposition Leader John Robertson. Photo: Stephen Wark
THE Department of Education will shed at least 2400 jobs over the next four years and slash by more than half its language and literacy programs for disadvantaged people, confidential Treasury documents reveal.
A detailed NSW Treasury report obtained by the Herald shows labour expenses will be cut by $40.86 million this financial year – at least 408 jobs – with similar cuts in each of the following three years.
A further 200 temporary positions would also be cut each year.Advertisement: Story continues below
The new figures follow revelations in the Herald yesterday that the government has no cap on the size of its public sector redundancy program, opening the way for numbers to exceed the 10,000 figure announced in this year’s budget on top of the 5000 announced last year.
The Herald understands the Department of Education has told teacher union officials a total of more than 600 permanent and part-time non-teacher jobs will be cut each year for the next four years as part of the announcement by the NSW Treasurer, Mike Baird, of a $1.2 billion cut in programs across all agencies.
A former senior Education Department employee said the cuts amounted to more than 10 per cent of the department.
Treasury figures show funding for education access services for migrants and disadvantaged groups will more than halve from $27.1 million to $12.4 million.
Funding for demountable school buildings will be reduced from $23 million to $11.9 million, and printing from $19.6 million to $13.8 million.
The Opposition Leader, John Robertson, said the funding cuts would burden classroom teachers with additional work and pressure.
”The government’s own figures reveal Barry O’Farrell plans to cut 600 workers a year, or more than 2400 over four years, out of our schools and TAFE colleges,” he said.
”Funding cuts of this magnitude will make it much harder for teachers in the classroom – with TAFE teachers and school support staff including teachers’ aides and school counsellors likely to be among those who will lose their jobs.
”These workers provide assistance to children with special needs and learning difficulties, help to run reading recovery programs in our schools and provide emotional and psychological support to disadvantaged children.”
Mr Robertson said he was also concerned tens of millions of dollars appear to have been cut from education services for disadvantaged groups, school sports programs and basic resources.
The president of the NSW Teachers Federation, Maurie Mulheron, said the Treasury figures demonstrated a strategy to give school principals greater autonomy over school budgets was really about cost-cutting.
”It is not the Department of Education determining education policy any more in this state but the government’s Expenditure Review Committee,” he said.
”The figures are only the tip of the iceberg of cuts to public education.”
The Greens MP John Kaye said NSW already has the second-lowest number of public servants per head of population of any state or territory in Australia.
”After Treasurer Mike Baird has completed his planned 15,000 public service jobs cuts, NSW will be just 6700 positions ahead of Victoria,” he said.
The Minister for Education, Adrian Piccoli, declined to comment, saying the budget cuts were an issue for the department of education to manage.
The Department of Education said it could not comment on the job cuts, but did not dispute the Herald’s figures from Treasury.
A department spokesman said Treasury had given departments a range of options for meeting the 1.2 per cent labour expense cap.
Shame Barry, shame.