Heads could roll at schools

SEVEN schools in the 2800 postcode could lose their principals as a result of the government’s plan to downgrade the role. 

The NSW Department of Education is proposing to downgrade to leading teacher status those principals in charge of primary schools having a budget of less than $1 million. Non-teaching matters would be handled by a co-ordinating principal at a larger hub school.

Spring Hill Public School, Canobolas Public School, Borenore Public School, Cargo Public School, Clergate Public School, Mullion creek Public School and Nashdale Public School are all at risk of the changes. 

According to the NSW government’s My School website, in 2011, the latest available data, the seven schools all had operating budgets of less than $1 million.

The NSW Teachers’ Federation backed the proposed changes during its stop work meeting last week but country organiser John Pratt said the vote did not guarantee the end for smalls schools and the $1 million budget cut-off should not be taken literally. 

He said isolated schools could never be closed because it was physically impossible to relocate students. 

“The future for small schools is not bleak because I believe there will always be a place for small schools,” Mr Pratt said. 

He said there had to be give and take when formulating the award for teachers with the department.

Canobolas Public School P and C president Michelle Caulfield said the proposal to downgrade principals, de-valued one of the most important roles in a community. 

“To me it is very unfortunate ... teachers all deserve a pay rise but not at the cost of autonomy,” Mrs Caulfield said.

She said she understood the proposed changes would affect any school with fewer than about 150 students.

A spokesperson for the Department for Education and Communities said while there is a link between budget and enrolments, budgets are also affected by factors including socio-economic status, individual students’ needs, schools’ indigenous enrolments and schools’ geographical location.

Out of the seven schools Canobolas Public and Nashdale Public School spent more money than the government gave them in 2011 according to the government’s website.

Canobolas Public School was given $866,224 in funding but spent $940,091 in 2011 however in 2010 the school had an income of just over $1 million and spent about half.

Nashdale Public School received $825 807 in funding but spent $1,276,211 in 2011.

nicole.kuter@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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