Small classroom spending adds up

Photo: FILE

Photo: FILE

Teachers in NSW public schools could be collectively spending millions of dollars of their own money each year on basic classroom resources.

A national survey conducted by the Australian Education Union (AEU) found that 95 per cent of teachers spend money out of their own pockets on school supplies.

An AEU spokesperson said there were about 60,000 public school teachers in NSW and based on the survey findings 57,000 of those could be spending money on their students. 

If half that number, as indicated by the survey, were spending the average of $500 a year on their pupils, the total would be about $14.25 million.

Earlier this year a high school teacher from Dubbo anonymously spoke out about the financial pressure placed on staff to ensure their pupils are adequately equipped throughout the year.

She said her fellow colleagues can fork out thousands of dollars during the school year to ensure their students have basic consumables such as pencils, pens and glue sticks. 

The Daily Liberal sought answers to several questions from the NSW Education Department.

The spokesperson said the department’s Resource Allocation Model (AM) takes into account a variety of factors when allocating funding to public schools. This includes the school’s location, its enrollment, the socio-economic background of students, Aboriginiality, English proficiency and students with low level disabilities.

Schools then develop their own budgets and allocate their own funds, the spokesperson said.

“Traditionally teachers have chosen to purchase some additional resources used in their teaching programs at their own expense,” he said. 

The spokesperson added the department is currently administrating a record budget with recurrent funding for education in 2016-17 of $13.7 billion, up $950 million on last year. 

The spokesperson failed to acknowledge questions such as whether the department was aware of the extent teachers were spending of their own salary.

The AEU spokesperson said the findings come down to a lack of money in school budgets and a desire to avoid “quite a lot of red tape” by purchasing resources themselves. Obviously it shows in any sense that no one is forcing teachers to do it, but the practice is really wide-spread.”

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