Thursday 6th March
(See picture above)
The Gonski Van continued on its tour of NSW raising awareness of the need to increase funding for quality education. From Brewarrina to Bourke NSW on the Darling River the Van visited Bourke Public School and High School during the day before it attended the Bourke Teachers Association meeting and Gonski dinner. President of the Bourke Teachers Association and High School teacher Ben Hawdon said: “We require improved funding to overcome high concentrations of students from very low socio-economic back grounds.” Ben referred to the Gonski review of education funding in Australia which found that students attending schools with a large percentage of socio economic disadvantage were more likely to fall behind in their schooling. Bourke schools have a high percentage of students from low socio-economic households and fall into this category. Ben also said the school should receive funding loadings for being isolated in a rural town hundreds of kilometres from goods and services available in most metropolitan areas. “The distances travelled to goods and services impacts on our ability to provide a quality education for all students,” Ben said. “When will governments realise that there are many factors that could be tackled if they just funded schools on a needs basis? Only then will we have a truly world class education system,” Ben concluded.
Friday 7th March
From Bourke on the Darling River the Gonski Van travelled 600 kms to attend the Gonski Bar B Q in Broken Hill NSW Australia. Maureen Clark, High School English teacher received the Gonski relay torch from Bourke Teachers. Maureen said: ”New and beginning teachers have come together tonight to receive the torch and raise awareness of the need to adequately fund quality education.” Maureen indicated many schools in Broken Hill were small in enrolments which often created difficulties with so many rolls and duties to perform within those schools. “Everyone knows schools run on the good will of teachers but that goodwill is often pushed to the limit when we have only small numbers of teachers employed. If we are serious about providing quality education we need more staff to carry out the necessary functions of a school.” Maureen also said more staff would mean smaller class sizes “Smaller class sizes would benefit those students struggling with literacy and numeracy. The only way we can have smaller classes is to supply schools with more qualified teachers.”
Saturday 8th March
Parents and teachers from Wilcannia, Menindee, Sunraysia and Broken Hill Schools came together at the office of the Federal Member of Parliament Sussan Ley. Parents and Teachers sought the support of the Assistant Education Minister by writing to Sussan. A door stop media conference was held where teacher Maureen Clarke said: “Quality teaching is about giving all schools a minimum resources standard and ensuring funding is better targeted to student needs.” Maureen highlighted the need for improved teacher professional development. “Mr Abbott (Australian Federal Government) is talking about increasing teacher quality but he’s not showing a commitment to providing funding to make that happen,” Maureen concluded.