The future of education looks bleak if funding cannot be addressed.

As the federal election approaches, political parties have voiced ideas on how education can be improved in Australia.

Many believe scoring requirements for school leavers and aptitude testing is necessary to improve the nation’s standard of teaching.

However, teachers at the forefront of education believe that politicians are missing the point.

Brian Ireland, Director of Studies at Edmund Rice College, Wollongong says the issue is funding.

He believes it is a simple case of supply not catching up with demand in all schools.

“All schools need more funding. It’s as simple as that. Of course there are some schools that are in need of a lot more money and resources then other schools, but overall there is need,” he said.

“Yes, the teacher’s union is in favour of rating entry requirements. However, at the end of the day there is no point focusing on teaching standards if there is not enough resources for them to teach.”

The lack of resources and funding is also apparent in primary schools.

Jennifer Hunter, a teacher at Sutherland Public School, says public schools are underfunded dramatically.

“When you have to dip into your own pocket to make sure your students have materials such as glue sticks it is an obvious problem,” she said.

“We also lack teacher’s aids for students who have learning difficulties. We usually refer our students to the teacher’s aids if they need specific help with their learning. It makes it difficult however, when there aren’t enough teachers and time to help all students in need.”

Ms Hunter says the various political parties are not focusing on funding and practical experience for teachers.

“Pracs are very important for young teachers to learn on the job. Currently we have a student who is only working here two days a week which is not enough,“ she said.

“Yes it is important for up and coming teachers to be bright, but if they are not getting the practical experience needed there is not much point having aptitude tests and higher ATARs for new teachers,” she said.

University of Wollongong Politics Professor, Anthony Ashbolt said the funding system in Australia is peculiar.

“The Gillard government said to Gonski no school would be worse off. Then after the Gonski report was released the Prime Minister said all schools would be better off. That is an absurdity. It undermines what the Gonski report was trying to achieve,” he said.

“Inequalities are growing in modern day society. I don’t think anything will come of Gonski. They left it far too late. And if they did anything it would probably be undermined by a future Liberal government.

“You can’t get anywhere in education if the states are going to behave like that. The future is bleak. Unless funding is addressed nothing is going to happen in the state of education. Moral is low because funding is low then the state of education in Australia won’t be improved.”

Words: DOMINIQUE MCGOVER
Pictures: LIZZIE HUNTER
Video: TESS BRUNTON and MATT ROLPH

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