15 June 2017  No. 06-17
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State Budget more information

Any government that believes in education as a public good will continue to invest record levels of funding into our school system and into the early childhood education and TAFE systems that bracket it. The Palaszczuk government’s third budget clearly demonstrates a strong commitment to school education and to supporting TAFE in the face of threats to funding security by the Turnbull federal government.

The QTU has received a full briefing from the Department of Education and Training (DET) on the 2017-18 budget outcomes and the budget papers have now been subjected to further analysis by the QTU. This second state budget Newsflash (see Newsflash 05/2017 for initial comments) sets out more detail on the new and ongoing budget initiatives that will promote positive educational outcomes for Queenslanders.

An education system relies on the people who work within it to be successful. The 2017-18 budget (the Budget) again makes significant commitments to employ the teachers and education support workers we need to ensure that all students enjoy the educational opportunity that is their right and entitlement..

Queensland’s state education system is experiencing unprecedented growth and the budget has had to provide for significant numbers of additional teachers and teacher-aides to cater for this, matters agreed through the 2016 Teachers’ enterprise bargaining agreement and other review outcomes.

  • More than 1150 teachers and teacher aides for 2018 including:
    • Over 600 teachers and teacher aides to meet enrolment growth
    • 230 FTEs in support breadth of curriculum in senior secondary over the 2018 and 2019 school years as we transition towards six full cohorts in secondary by 2020
    • 295 teacher FTEs above growth under the three year 875 Extra Teachers election commitment and 
    • 5 additional Secondary Guidance Officers, the third tranche of under the Supporting Students election commitments
  • $24.8 million allocated over four years to ensure that every state primary school achieves a pro-rated full-time (25 hours per week) teacher-aide for prep classes through the allocation of an extra 4000 hours per week of teacher-aide time
  • The ongoing implementation of the Review of School Administrative and Support Staff (RoSAS) outcomes as part of the four-year $102 million commitment
  • Continuing funding for the Review of Promotional Positions Classifications leading towards implementation in EB9
  • Continuing funding the implementation of the Highly Accomplished and Lead Teacher pilot leading towards full implementation from 2019

The budget also provides for new allocations in other much needed areas:

  • $138.6 million over 4 years to provide dedicated IT support in state schools, starting with a $16 million in 2017-18 (allocated to schools from the start of the 2018 school year) and around $40 million per year ongoing – this will be allocated on the basis of a 1.0 full-time equivalent T02 technician per 1000 students (prorated) with a minimum allocation of $3000 for schools with up to 50 students
  • $150M over three years as part of its ongoing commitment to teacher attraction, quality teaching and leadership including:
    • A final and fourth year of the Master Teacher initiative
    • Attraction and retention initiatives and
    • Implementing the recommendations of the 2017 report on the Deloitte’s Disability Review

After a drought of investment on infrastructure in schools under the previous state government, the Budget delivers a massive $950 million investment across a wide range of building programs:

  • $250M from 2018-19 to support state high school infrastructure needs for 2020 to accommodate the six full cohorts
  • $500M over five years ($28 million in the Budget) in a Building Future Schools Fund to build two new state secondary schools in inner Brisbane and to address enrolment growth pressures in state schools across the state
  • $200M Advancing Queensland Schools initiative to deliver new and upgraded school facilities such as halls and administration blocks and to acquire future land requirements for state schooling (remaining $169.8 million in the Budget)

Critically, this is in addition to the ongoing building and maintenance programs contained in the Budget:

  • $76 million for regular school maintenance (ongoing annual commitment of 1% of the base value of the assets in state schools)
  • Ongoing stages of the 6 primary schools, one secondary school and one special school opened in 2016 and 2017
  • New schools being constructed in Yarrabilba (Logan), Coomera, Caloundra South and Burdell (Townsville) opening in 2018
  • New secondary schools being planned for Mt Low (Townsville), North Lakes/Mango Hill, Calliope (2020) and Yarrabilba (Logan)
  • A new private public partnership primary school in Springfield West opening in 2019

These welcome initiatives represent a part of a total combined investment of around $2 billion in schools infrastructure by the Palaszczuk government in their first term in office. This is a level of investment rarely seen in Queensland education. 

However, more can and should be done to build the schools and classrooms that Queensland students need. Demand for places in state schools is growing. Many schools are at or over capacity. Specific sectors, such as special education, need more options for students. The QTU will work with the Palaszczuk government to continue to develop active solutions for capacity issues in local communities to ensure that students can attend their local state school. 

Our decade long campaign to achieve a fair, needs-based funding model for education continues. At the time of election, the Palaszczuk government immediately negotiated a new settlement for the Gonski money provided to Queensland by the federal government creating the Investing for Success (I4S) initiative. The needs of students drive the allocations of additional resources to schools and local decision-making ensures that local solutions are crafted to meet the needs of those students. This program is getting results. 

The Budget delivers several significant commitments to school resourcing that will help to ensure that schools have the financial resources they need to better deliver for every child:

  • Around $250 million ($246 million in 2017/18) each year for the next two years as part of it commitment to the I4S initiative inspired by the Gonski school funding model
  • $72.9 million to support the implementation of the agreed outcomes of the Review of Senior Assessment and Tertiary Entrance over five (5) years, with a $27.6 million allocation in 2017-18
  • $4.3 million in 2017-18 growing to $36.9 million in 2020-21 to stimulate Science Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM) partnerships in primary schools, supporting high achievement in STEM education, building teacher capability, and increase student participation – allocated on the basis of $100 per student with a minimum allocation of $5000 for schools with up to 50 students

A major new investment from the Palaszczuk government from outside of the education budget is in teacher housing. In addition to the ongoing programs of building, maintenance and upgrades for “operational” houses that remain in DET, the Department of Public Works and Housing will undertake a major program of works for government accommodation including teacher housing:

  • $82.7 million over four years to build or buy new houses in rural and remote communities including 36 for DET
  • $23 million over two years to address a backlog of maintenance, including expenditure of $6,738,129 in 2017-18 and $5,972,267 in 2018-19 on more than 800 residences utilised by DET
  • $40.2 million over four years to provide capital upgrades and improvements. Again, more than half of the projects identified will occur in DET accommodation: 312 upgrade projects and 1758 improvement projects

More detailed information on these Budget commitments will be emailed to all QTU members in centres that have access to teacher accommodation.

In light of the exciting outcomes for school education, our initial analysis of the prospects for TAFE and training, based on the headline budget figures, left us cold. 

Subsequent briefings have revealed that the state government is attempting to deal with a $105 million shortfall in funding for training from the federal government. A national partnership agreement for skills and training is only now being negotiated with the current agreement set to expire in just a few weeks. 

Major new and ongoing initiatives in the budget for training will deliver:

  • $60 million to continue the Skilling Queenslanders for Work program
  • $10 million for a Regional Skills Adjustment strategy over two years
  • $9 million Regional Skills Investment strategy over four years

Overall, it appears that TAFE funding will increase by more than $8 million in 2017-18 through being supported by a State Contribution Grant set at $203 million for the public providers of VET in Queensland in 2018

A combined DET and Health program will invest $68.9 million in the creation of a new adolescent mental health facility and program based in northern Brisbane with state-wide responsibilities for mental health services for adolescents.

DET has confirmed that their contribution will ensure that a school education service is provided as a part of this new facility/program.

The QTU’s annual state budget submission has long been a comprehensive list of priority areas for government investment in education. An indication of the success of the 2017-18 state budget for school education is the extent to which priorities, that have been in place for some time, will now be able to be deleted because they have been achieved or rewritten to set new and higher targets.

TAFE continues to provide the training you can trust. Queensland communities have been severely impacted by the collapse of dodgy for-profit private providers and TAFE will do the heavy lifting on picking up the pieces for students who have been let down, burdened with huge debts for a qualification never delivered. The Queensland government faces a massive $105 million drop in funding from the federal government for training but has managed to protect core TAFE funding for now. An election commitment to match federal Labor’s promise to provide two-thirds of every dollar raised for Vocational Education and Training directly to TAFE will do even more to ensure the future of this venerable Queensland learning institution.

The efforts of QTU members in visiting their local MP, speaking with the Ministers as they visit your workplaces and campaigning for improvements for students in all schools and TAFE have delivered a cracker 2017-18 state budget.

 Authorised by Graham Moloney, General Secretary, Queensland Teachers' Union