Campaigner fears cuts to school support staff

Public education advocate Jane Caro (left) and Russell Vale Public School administration officer Margaret Fallo discuss the possible effects of budget reforms on school support staff. Picture: MELANIE RUSSELLSchool support staff jobs could be at risk under NSW government education reforms, public education campaigner Jane Caro said yesterday.

In Wollongong to speak to 500 administration and support staff from Illawarra schools, Ms Caro said reforms to give principals more power over their staffing budgets could result in fewer support workers being employed.

“I think one of the problems with [the reforms] may be that it very much depends on whether [the government is] going to give public schools the budgets they need,” she told a conference at the Novotel Northbeach.

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“Or are principals going to have to make decisions between employing an office and support administrator or another teacher?”

The social commentator, who is known for her appearances on ABC TV’s Gruen Transfer and Q&A programs, said office staff, teachers’ aides and maintenance staff were the unsung heroes of public schools working behind the scenes to do photocopying, collect money, run finance systems, and maintain rooms and playgrounds.

“They are incredibly important because without them, teachers would have to do all that work and that would take them away from teaching,” Ms Caro said.

She said many support and administration workers deserved to be paid more because their jobs had changed so much over the years.

“They are often the first people parents have contact with and they often have to turn their hands and do whatever is required,” she said.

“They are the sane centre of the school, quite often, and they are able to concentrate on the whole school, where teachers have to focus on one class or one subject area.”

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