Inverell misses out on NSW school infrastructure funding

Inverell will miss out on a $4.2 billion plan to address overcrowding in NSW public schools.

Announced today, the state government budget will see $2.2 billion injected into new infrastructure to more than 120 primary and high schools across NSW, combined with a commitment in last year’s budget to spend $2.6 billion on education infrastructure until 2019-20.

Armidale will receive a large portion of the funds in the region, with $65 million slated for a ‘super school’, combining Duval and Armidale High Schools. Tamworth is also celebrating, with funding set aside for extensive upgrades in Tamworth Public School and Farrer Memorial Agricultural High School.

But Inverell is not on the list. 

A spokesperson from the Department of Education said it was because Inverell isn’t expected to match the unprecedented explosion in student numbers that is being predicted for areas like Sydney and Wagga Wagga.

“The Department monitors population and development trends so that it can plan to meet enrolment needs in schools across NSW,” the spokesperson said.

“It works closely with the Department of Planning and Environment and councils to monitor population growth and to ensure that its strategies accommodate for growth.

“No public schools in the Glen Innes, Inverell, Tenterfield and Guyra areas are currently experiencing enrolments that are putting pressure on accommodation.”

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the ‘record’ infrastructure funding was due to a “once-in-a-generation spike in student enrolments” across the state. A newly created specialist assets unit called School Infrastructure NSW will deliver the program of capital works.

“We always welcome extra funds in the budget for infrastructure and things like that,” New England North West organiser for the NSW Teachers Federation Tim Danaher said. He said the Federation will continue to work with government to ensure the funding is distributed in the “best possible way”.

“We look forward to discussing and working closely with the NSW government to remedy this backlog that we currently have in NSW schools,” Mr Danaher said. 

NSW Government Gonski commitment

The NSW Government will maintain its full six-year commitment to the National Education Reform Agreement, also known as the Gonski reform until the end of 2019.

“We welcome all the support that we’ve had from (Member for Northern Tablelands) Adam Marshall and from the state liberal national party,” NSW Teachers Federation New England North West organiser Tim Danaher said.

The continued commitment to the program comes as the federal government debates over the proposed Gonski 2.0 which the Turnbull government hopes to pass in the Senate.

Mr Danaher said Gonski 2.0 was not good enough.

“With the original Gonski funding package, all schools were going to be brought up to a minimum resource level in the final two years, over a six year transition period. Under this new model, that money does revert back to the older sort of model where 80 per cent of the portion of funding is going to be Catholic and independent schools and only 20 per cent is going to our public schools,” he said.

“The research definitely shows that the highest need is in our public schools. We have 80 per cent of the indigenous students, we have 80 per cent of the low SES (soci-economic status) students, we have 80 per cent of the students with disabilities, learning difficulties, all of those things.”

He said the federal government’s plan did “nothing” to address the resource gap identified by David Gonski in the original report.

Education funding breakdown

The 2017-18 NSW budget will include:

  • Approximately 1000 more teachers
  • $6.1 million over three years to support an updated anti-bullying strategy and resources for teachers, students and parents.
  • $88 million of a planned $224 million for teacher professional development through the Quality Teaching, Successful Students initiative.
  • Funding of $50 million on student counselling and wellbeing services as part of the $167 million Supported Students, Successful Students program
  • $149 million on education standards for provision of service related to school curriculum assessment, teaching and regulatory standards in NSW schools
  • Maintenance of full six-year commitment to the Gonski reform until 2019
  • $1.2 billion funding support for non-government schools, including increasing the Building Grants Assistance Scheme to support enrolment growth