By Emma Xerri
The ‘For Every Child’ campaign made its way to Cranbourne West Primary School on Wednesday, with the school claiming a $1.1 million annual shortfall in “full funding”.
The campaign, which will culminate with the delivery of thousands of postcards to Federal Parliament in late November, is calling for full funding across public schools nation-wide.
According to organisers, 98 per cent of public schools funded below the minimum Schooling Resource Standard, which sits at $11,000 per primary student and $14,000 per secondary student.
Campaigners are also drawing attention to teachers’ deteriorating work conditions across the country.
Cranbourne West Primary School teacher Ray Payne believes addressing the underfunding is a crucial step to improving the quality of education for both teachers and students.
“It’s very frustrating and a lot of people are taking time off due to stress,” Payne said.
“We’re a very multicultural school and we’ve got a range of students with different educational needs. Some students need a lot of support and some of the high-achieving students need to be accelerated, but we’re short on staff and support staff, so people are missing out on both ends of the spectrum.
“The general feeling is that a lack of resources, a lack of staff, and a lack of funding affects everyone. And we’re a very inclusive school.
“No one misses out because of their income. But that puts a financial strain on the whole school, and on the whole education system really.”
Cranbourne West Primary School principal Andrew Bergmeier states that full funding for all public schools is the only way to address these educational barriers and move forward.
“Currently, Victorian schools are funded at 90 per cent of the Student Resource Standard, which means that every primary school student is missing out on $1800 of funding a year.
“For a school of our size, which has about 600 kids, that’s just around $1.1 million. If we, as a school, were funded up to the 100 per cent then we would be able to employ a teacher aid for every classroom, which would significantly help our children,” Bergmeier said.
“At the moment, we can only provide our students that are coming from trauma or are suffering from mental health or physical issues very limited support.
“We are not medical experts or psychologists or occupational therapists, and we would, like all schools, benefit from having a dedicated professional in these roles at our school all the time.
“All we want as a school community is for the state government and the federal government to live up to their pre-election promises and to provide us with what our school requires to thrive.”
The Minister for Education and the Opposition spokesperson for education were both contacted for comment but did not respond by deadline.