Principal Education Forum gives public schools greater voice

Out of the classroom: Primary and high school principals met with education executives at a statewide forum. Department of Education Secretary Mark Scott with school principals John Mazzitelli (left) and Craig Cleaver. Picture: John Veage
Out of the classroom: Primary and high school principals met with education executives at a statewide forum. Department of Education Secretary Mark Scott with school principals John Mazzitelli (left) and Craig Cleaver. Picture: John Veage

Public school principals converged as one at Brighton-Le-Sands this month to discuss their priorities - putting students at the centre of all decision-making.

This was at the top of the agenda at the Principal Education Forum hosted by Novotel at Brighton-Le-Sands.

Principals gathered and met with the state's education leaders including Department of Education Secretary Mark Scott, Deputy Secretary of Educational Services, Georgina Harrisson, and Deputy Secretary of School Operations and Performance, Murat Dizdar.

It was a chance to talk in person with executives in the education field.

With students at the focus, the forum was a continuation of a successful series in 2018, enabling St George and Sutherland Shire principals to meet directly with those who hand down decision within the public education sector.

A highlight of the forums was a moderated panel discussion featuring three leading principals who shared their views on how their schools have improved and transformed.

Educational gathering: Brighton-Le-Sands was one of 12 forums being held across NSW in May. Picture: John Veage

Educational gathering: Brighton-Le-Sands was one of 12 forums being held across NSW in May. Picture: John Veage

"Students are at the heart of everything we do in public schools," Deputy Secretary Mark Scott said.

"But we know that our staff and school communities - whether it's school leaders and teachers or parents, carers and community members - are crucial to students feeling known, valued and cared for and continually improving their educational outcomes.

"Our forums aim to inspire our principals to continue to lead schools where every student, every teacher, every leader and every school improves every year.

"But equally we value the direct insights we gain through our principals at the forums and the opportunity to travel across the state we serve."

This year's forums have the hashtag #NSWedforum19 and principals will be able to give instant feedback and ask questions through an online app.

With 820,000 students in 2,200 schools and 85,000 staff, NSW public education is the largest education system in Australia.

On the flipside, the NSW Teachers' Federation has launched its latest campaign ahead of the federal election, calling for answers from the Liberal government's stance on the minimum standard of resources in public schools.

Fair funding push: Members of NSW Teachers' Federation rally outside Federal Member for Banks, David Coleman's office this month.

Fair funding push: Members of NSW Teachers' Federation rally outside Federal Member for Banks, David Coleman's office this month.

St George Teachers' Association Vice-President Glenn Hokin says the government has cut 14 billion dollars to public schools across the next decade.

He says the original review into the funding of schools in Australia identified the minimum level of resources that a school needs to be able to support students to achieve minimum benchmarks in learning areas such as literacy and numeracy.

The minimum standard became known as the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS).

"The destructive lack of vision of the Liberal National government will leave public schools in the seat of Banks almost 18 million dollars worse off, whilst public school students in Barton will have nearly 15 million dollars less to support them over the next three years," he said.

"The cuts will leave 99 per cent of public schools below the minimum standard of resources by 2023, whilst 99 per cent of private schools will be at or above that standard."

"Blakehurst High will be $1.24 million worse off, students at Kogarah High School will be $1.18 million worse off, whilst these cuts will deliver $140,000 less to support the students at Woniora Road School and there will be $540,000 less to support our kids at Carlton South public school."

He says additional funding as budgeted under Labor, is critically important for schools and will provide smaller class sizes, more one-on-one support and more help for students with disability.

"Almost 75 percent of students with disabilities attend public schools, which work hard to ensure that issues such as access and specialist support is provided to meet the needs of our most disadvantaged in the community," Mr Hokin said.

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