NSW Premier Mike Baird must fight against funding cuts to NSW schools at tomorrow’s Council of Australian Governments meeting in Canberra, the AEU said today.

AEU Federal President Angelo Gavrielatos said the Abbott Government’s abandoning of Gonski school funding agreements with the States should be one of the key issues on the COAG agenda.

“Schools funding was supposed to be discussed at the last COAG meeting in May, but it was postponed until this month’s meeting. However reports today indicate that it has been removed from the agenda yet again by the Federal Government,” Mr Gavrielatos said.

“The decision to abandon Gonski’s needs-based schools funding will cost NSW schools $1.2 billion in 2018 and 2019, $944 million of which will be cut from public schools.

“That’s the equivalent of, on average, of four teachers lost from every public school.

“This will mean fewer resources for students, bigger classes, fewer literacy and numeracy programs, and less support for students with disability.

“It is clear that the Abbott Government does not want to discuss its plans to strip billions of dollars and thousands of teachers from schools, but that makes it even more important that State Premiers stand up for their schools and students.

NSW Teachers Federation President Maurie Mulheron said Premier Baird needed to send a strong message that he does not accept Tony Abbott’s cuts to the neediest schools.

“In May, Premier Baird described the cuts to health and education in the Federal Budget as a ‘kick in the guts to the people of NSW’,” Mr Mulheron said.

“He was right, and he needs to keep up the fight against Tony Abbott’s cuts, not just give up on NSW schools.

“Scrapping Gonski agreements will cut funding from schools across NSW, both public and private, but the worst hit areas from this decision will be regional NSW and western Sydney.

“Premier Baird needs to show he will stand up for students in these areas and their right to a properly-resourced school.”

Also in May, NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli described the decision to abandon the Gonski agreement as “more than a breach of a commitment with the NSW government, it is a breach of faith with all school students in the state” and said that it would “see schools go

backwards” and that “schools in regional areas, as well as disadvantaged and Aboriginal students, will be the hardest hit.”

“Gonski funding delivers more resources to schools with high numbers of students with disability, students from low-income households, in regional areas, Indigenous students and students from non-English speaking backgrounds,” Mr Gavrielatos said.

“Cutting this funding will increase gaps in achievement between advantaged and disadvantaged schools and reduce equity and opportunity in our school system.”

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