A Wagga parent has expressed frustration over her daughter’s back to school stationery list that asks parents to supply some classroom items.
A public school in Wagga’s stationery list asks Kindergarten students to bring two whiteboard markers and for all students to supply a pack of tissues and hand soap.
Parents and Citizens Riverina representative and mother Saba Nabi said that schools should not expect parents to dip into their household pockets to fund these items.
“In the government school sector, it is the responsibility of governments, not parents, to ensure that children in schools have access to proper facilities and services,” Dr Nabi said.
“Contributions and fundraising from parents can make great differences for children in schools.
“However, the purpose of public education is to be equitable and without fees, so families should not feel pressured to provide funds or equipment.”
Another Wagga parent Cameron Abood disagreed with parents having to supply whiteboard markers and said many teachers also bring a pack of tissues.
“It’s not ideal but if one person from every family can bring a box of tissues, especially in an under-funded system, the school can focus on teaching, learning perspectives and spend the money on specialising teacher resources,” Mr Abood said.
“I do know multiple primary teachers who do buy tissues themselves, because the school doesn’t supply decent quality or none at all.”
While the Department of Education argues that supplying these items is voluntary, Wagga MP Dr Joe McGirr said parents should be informed about where this money is being spent.
“As long as it is completely voluntary, it’s probably reasonable but where the school does save this money, it should be clear to the parents about where this money will be spent,” Dr McGirr said.
“The department says it can use these savings for more equipment or resources at the school, but parents should know where that money is going and it shouldn’t be going into the budget.”
Dr McGirr said it is reasonable for schools to ask parents to supply products for students’ personal use, however argued that hand soap is a “health and safety issue”.
“When it comes to things like hand soap, I would have thought the provision of soap, in an environment where there are many students in one place, that this is a health and safety issue and something schools should provide.”
A spokesperson from the NSW Department of Education said schools have asked parents to consider the voluntary contribution of a few supplies, which allows them to “reinvest funding allocations”.
“Through a policy of Local Schools, Local Decisions more than ever before principals in consultation with their school community can develop budgets to address the needs of their students,” a spokesperson said.
“At Wagga public schools this has enabled funds provided from the Department of Education allocation, grants and voluntary contributions to be budgeted for flexibly, creatively and to better address students’ needs.”