Meeting with Minister Tebbutt

Thursday, 02 November 2006 12:00 Aristotelis Administration

The NSW Federation of Community Languages Schools, on behalf of its 170 member-organisation, has undertaken an active role in promoting languages, lobbying for additional funding and accessibility to government schools for students who wish to study a community language.

Following its most recent meeting with the Minister for Education & Training Hon. Carmel Tebbutt the requests appear closer to materialisation

The Federation presented to the Minister three basic requests for consideration.

1. Per Capita Grant Funding for Community Language Schools in NSW

The Per Capita Grant Funding is distributed to community language schools by the Department of Education and Training through the Community Languages Program. The Per Capita Grant Funds are received from the Commonwealth Govt.
The Per Capita Grant Funding for 2006 – 2007 is $60 per student. This funding of $60 was last increased in 1992 when it was increased from $35.
It has been 14 years since the last increase in the Per Capita Grant funding.
There is no contribution to the Per Capita Grant funding form the NSW State Government. However other State Governments do make contributions to the Per Capita Funding
1) Victorian State Govt. give $100 ($40 State & $60 Federal)
2) South Australian Govt. gives $126 ($76 State & $50 Federal)
The current NSW Department of Education and Training Budget for the 2006-07 financial year is $9.8 billion.
A $30 per student supplement to the per capita grant funding by the NSW State Government would cost approximately $1 million per annum. This $1 million dollars would equate to .01% of the current DET budget.
Students in NSW receive $9186 for 1200 hours of mainstream schooling per annum which equals to $7.65 per hour (2004/05 figures)
Students who attend community language schools receive $60 for attending a minimum 72 hours per annum which equals to 83 cents per hour. (most schools operate for more than 2 hours per week)

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The Minister of Education & Training Hon.Carmel Tebbutt with members of the NSW Federation of Community Languages Schools. On the left is the Federation President Mr. Albert Vella and in the middle our Principal Mr. Bill Gonopoulos

2. Implementation of the Community Languages Free Use of Government Schools Facilities and Equipment Policy

This policy although established in 1995, it was not fully implemented. There are constant issues arising for community language schools in trying to operate a professional school and achieving the high outcomes required by DET and BOS.

Although most host schools are quite cooperative and helpful to a majority of community language schools, the burden placed upon management committees by some mainstream or host schools is totally unprofessional.

There are a number of issues in relation to this policy that need to be addressed and the key is the implementation of the policy.

  1. Classrooms – number required
  2. Use of desk & chairs
  3. Use of blackboards / whiteboards
  4. Use of audio visual equipment that is in the classroom
  5. Storage space for cabinets adjacent to the classrooms (or in the vicinity) being used
  6. Use of toilets
  7. Use of garbage Bins
  8. Have a classroom for staff / parent meeting room
  9. Use of Heaters and or Air Conditioning
  10. Use of School Hall – when required
  11. Photocopier (Community Language Schools to pay a fair rate for use)
  12. Some minor issues such as lighting for safety and security (OHS)

Management committees are totally voluntary, but have to meet the requirements set out by the NSW Government to receive any form of funding. It is quite stressful for management committees to deal with unreasonable principals in certain schools.

If the policy could be revised and properly implemented there would be clarity and certainty for everyone involved with community language schools.

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Mr. Bill Gonopoulos is presenting to Minister Tebbutt issues that concern thousands of students from various communities.

3. Access to Non Government Organisations Grant funding or Grant-in Aid funding.

Our organization would like to apply for Grant-in Aid funding to help provide a better service to the members of the Federation by having a full time administration officer, the present situation of part time casual.

The current administration officer is overwhelmed with work due to cut backs in the Community Languages Program staffing, which has gone from 6 and now is currently down to 2 full time officers. Our administration officer is now assisting many of our member schools in issues relating to community language schools but due to the limited funds of the Federation it cannot provide a full time service.

The Federation’s administration officer also voluntarily assists the Federation by giving her free time on numerous occasions e.g. providing catering services, assisting at monthly meetings, undertakes training at her own expense and time, represents the Federation at functions when management committee members unavailable and works extra unpaid hours to ensure that the work of the Federation is completed.