Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s schools funding announcement

Helping hand: Rhys Higgins, Austin Mallen, Isabella Brandley and Lawson McEirea benefit from Year 10 student, Harper Liauw, in the Multi-Lit program.
Helping hand: Rhys Higgins, Austin Mallen, Isabella Brandley and Lawson McEirea benefit from Year 10 student, Harper Liauw, in the Multi-Lit program.

Blue Mountains public schools have received their allotment for needs-based education funding for 2018 – part of the $1.09 billion being divvied out in government schools.

And one of the big winners is Blaxland High School, whose 1000 students will benefit from $585,287 in funding which will go towards a wholistic Macquarie University-based multi-lit morning support program for Year 7’s needing extra help with literacy; specialist Indigenous programming with mentoring and a class dedicated to Aboriginal studies, as well as extra support teachers and possibly a bus for their autism unit. It’s an increase of $105,974 on 2017. 

The funds are allocated under the Resource Allocation Model [RAM] based on student need. It takes in the socio-economic profile of students, Aboriginal student numbers, English language proficiency and disability.

Year 7 students in the multi-lit Blaxland High “roll call” program said they had enjoyed developing their literacy skills with Year 10 mentors with similar interests.

“Smartness” was what Isabella Brandley had picked up from the program funded under the needs-based scheme. “I’m a bit faster at reading,” added another recipient, Austin Mallen.

While some primary and high schools in the state have been given more than a million dollars in funding, the Mountains funds are as follows: Blaxland East Public $254,390 [+$35,874], Blaxland High $585,287 [+105,974], Blaxland Public $115,688 [-$15,828],  Blackheath Public $223,648 [+24,812] Ellison Public 212,073 [+$681], Faulconbridge Public $215,436 [+$20,329], Glenbrook Public $156,917 [+21,079], Hazelbrook Public $335,033 [+48,478], Katoomba High $570,618 [+$44,190], Katoomba North $219,342 [-$30,707] Katoomba Public $211,560 [+$18,862]Lawson Public $208,218 [+$8590], Lapstone $146,974 [+31,333], Leura $189,651 [+$22,509], Megalong Public $19,868 [+$649], Mt Riverview $160,513 [+$5126],Mt Victoria $83,774 [+11,428], Springwood Public $271,453 [+50,118], Springwood High $431,837 [+$43,750], Warrimoo Public $126,169 [-$6301], Wentworth Falls Public $555,104 [+$96,139], Winmalee Public 289,205 [+34,876] and Winmalee High $508,578 [+71,707].

Blaxland High Principal Nikki Tunica said the money would help in building Indigenous culture at the school. Naplan results were already showing improvements from the multi-lit program.

But MP for Blue Mountains Trish Doyle said while she “welcomed the Liberals’ support of Labor’s needs-based funding reforms, under the Berejiklian government’s watch, the underlying base allocation per school for operational and overhead costs has clearly become inadequate”. 

“To put it simply, on one hand we have a relatively small amount more money going in to accounting column A while accounting column B is running millions and millions of dollars in deficit.”

“In Blue Mountains schools we have basic maintenance work being ignored, ancient facilities and campuses in desperate need of renewal, but this government won’t release the money from its huge budget surpluses to pay for these basic and urgent repairs and upgrades. Anyone will tell you it’s not a genuine “budget surplus” if you make your savings by refusing to pay the bills each month.”

Premier Gladys Berejiklian revealed the list at a western Sydney school last month, alongside Education Minister Rob Stokes and MP for Penrith Stuart Ayres.  

The funding is an increase of about $80 million, or eight per cent, on 2017 and is made up of 82 per cent state funding and 18 per cent federal funds.

Mr Stokes said it was additional to funding announced last month under the Schools Leadership Strategy to enable employment of extra support staff so principals could focus on educational leadership.

“The combination of funding increases and changes will enable schools to sharpen their focus on catering for the specific academic and wellbeing needs of their individual students,” Mr Stokes said.

In 2017 literacy and numeracy support were among the most commonly funded programs while many schools also invested in additional staff to help students with disabilities. Other popular measures included software applications, homework clubs, breakfast programs and pre-school playgroups to assist in transition to school.