Election 2013 Western Australia March 9

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Education Matters

WA Labor will fund WACSSO School Council training

source: WACSSO

In a letter responding to WACSSO last month, Minister for Education Hon. Peter Collier was unable to match Shadow Minister Paul Papalia’s announcement in August that WA Labor would return funding to WACSSO to undertake school council/board training for parents on the back of strong demand from school communities.

Until 2010, WACSSO provided training for school councils, however funding for the provision of this service was removed by the Department of Education who then took on the responsibility of providing this it.

Affiliates regularly report that since WACSSO lost funding to provide training to school councils, very little has been provided by the Department, in particular to non-IPS schools. In addition, only a small proportion of IPS training has been targeted at the parent and community members of School Boards.

Training for School Council/Board members, as with P&Cs, needs to be consistent and ongoing as members have a relatively high rotation rate and skills and knowledge are lost when members leave.

Increased responsibilities with IPS Boards and the Government’s commitment to greater parental engagement requires that parent representatives are skilled and supported to undertake their role on School Boards and Councils effectively.

In an ongoing survey of affiliates available through the WACSSO website, over 90% of P&C members believed that WACSSO was a preferable option over the Department of Education to provide parents with school council/board training.

During the 2012 WACSSO Annual Conference, delegates welcomed Shadow Minister for Education Paul Papalia’s announcement that a Labor State Government would return funding for WACSSO to train parents. This commitment has not been matched by the WA Liberal Party.

“The Department of Education provides a telephone support service, a comprehensive written information package and a PowerPoint presentation that can be used by Principals and experienced chairpersons. The Department will continue to make this support and training available to all school communities,” Minister Collier said.

President of WACSSO, Kylie Catto, said it was imperative that funding is reinstated for WACSSO to provide school council training to parents and the wider community to ensure they are equipped with the necessary tools and information to carry out their roles effectively.

“Since the introduction of the Independent Public Schools initiative training has been provided to new School Boards, which we fully support. But IPS schools represent only one third of government schools in WA, leaving roughly 500 schools without the opportunity of governance type training for their Schools Councils. We find this completely inequitable.”

“We regularly get phone calls requesting training and advice, particularly from school principals who have previously accessed the service through WACSSO.”

“The Department has not continued the service it previously funded WACSSO to provide, and instead has a phone line for people to ring when they have queries. This is unacceptable and does not reflect the significance of the role School Council’s play.”

“We urge the State Government to review this situation and reinstate the funding to ensure all school communities have access to comprehensive training. Why are we seeing IPS schools supported and trained but no facility for non-IPS schools? It gives the perception of a two tiered system and recognises the needs of one above the other,” Ms Catto said

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