Time to educate the Government about class sizes
In Government, one of Labor's proudest achievements was reducing class sizes in the early years of schooling. Beginning in 2004 under Premier Bob Carr, we embarked on this significant reform to our school education system, reducing class sizes in Kindergarten to Year 2 to a statewide average of 20 students in Kindergarten classes, 22 students in Year 1 classes and 24 students in Year 2 classes. By 2007, we delivered it. I can tell you this because I was the Minister for Education at the time.
Tags: Carmel Tebbutt
Labor has many achievements in education including establishing the Institute of Teachers, ensuring teachers were amongst the highest paid in Australia and revolutionising information technology in our schools.
Now, the new Minister for Education, Adrian Piccoli, has refused to rule out increasing class sizes as part of the teachers' salary negotiations.
An independent evaluation of the class size reduction program was conducted in 2005 and found that the program was exceptionally well regarded by parents, principals and teachers as an important educational initiative. To quote from the evaluation report directly:
The program resulted in the provision of more personalised attention and teaching; an increase in teacher morale; a reduction in classroom management problems and better teacher student relationships. The most significant reported benefits of the program were an increased one-to-one interaction between teachers and students; teachers being able to get to know their students better; and improved student achievement.
It was a Labor Government that provided the necessary funding for this initiative, $650 million, and made such a concrete investment in our children's future. It remains the Labor Party that is committed to giving children the best possible start in life.
Not only is the new Coalition Minister threatening the quality of education for our youngest school children, he is also treating this issue as a bargaining chip in industrial relations negotiations with teachers – teachers could be asked to choose between a cut in real wages or an increase in class sizes.
So far we have seen the Liberal-National Coalition Government dismantle the industrial protections for NSW public servants, introduce fees in preschools and now refuse to rule out bigger classes. What will be next?
Labor remains committed to this reform that the best research tells us it's is good for our kids and good for our future.
, Industrial relations