The West Australian government is being accused of re-announcing an education policy made last June as it attempts to hose down community anger following planned cuts to regional services.
Education Minister Sue Ellery said on Monday 100 additional education assistants, including Aboriginal and Islander Education Officers, had been assigned for the forthcoming term for kindergarten to Year 2 students at public schools across WA.
She also said a further 200 assistants would be employed next year and in 2020, with 49 per cent to be based in regional primary and district high schools and among socially disadvantaged students.
Another 120 teachers would be employed full-time this year and into 2019, with 102 split between two roles to free up time for Level 3 teachers to dedicate to mentoring colleagues and co-ordinate student mental health programs.
The McGowan government was going to place a cap on incoming numbers of Level 3 teachers but the plan was scrapped when it backflipped on proposed education cuts earlier this month.
Premier Mark McGowan said his government was fulfilling an election promise to provide extra education assistants.
But opposition education spokesperson Donna Faragher said the announcement of the first 100 additional education assistants was just a rehash.
She accused the government of trying to deflect from community backlash over plans to cut Aboriginal education staff, abolish six school camps, increase costs to vacation swimming lessons and close Moora Residential College.
“The minister is clearly desperate for a positive education announcement after she cut millions from the state’s education budget just before Christmas,” Ms Faragher said.
The Community and Public Sector Union has planned a strike of Education Department public servants on Thursday following a rally held at schools’ opening for the year on Wednesday.
The union rejected the premier’s assurances there will not be hundreds of forced job losses or damage to the quality of education after the Labor government’s recent backflip on plans to close the School of the Air and the Gifted and Talented programs.