24 June 2014

Proposed changes to WSS-SLR model to impact on services to schools

Whole School Support – Student Learning Resource

The Department of Education, Training and Employment (DETE) has introduced a pilot in 2014 for a new way of distributing resources to state schools, with a view to implementing the model state-wide next year. Marketed as a ‘direct to school’ like model, the Whole School Support – Student Learning Resource (WSS-SLR) is designed to allocate resourcing from the centre, straight to schools (or clusters of schools). This replaces the previous SSR funding, with the significant addition of English as an additional language/dialect (EAL/D), previously allocated on the basis of enrolment of identified EAL/D students.

The following services within schools will be impacted:

  • guidance officers
  • support teachers – literacy and numeracy
  • behaviour support
  • English as an additional language/dialect.

During 2014, both Darling Downs South West Queensland and North Queensland regions are piloting the model. However, DETE apparently plans to roll the WSS-SLR model to all schools and regions from the start of next year. The level of resourcing that would be provided to schools, at this stage, is based on FTE enrolments, not on a needs basis. The QTU has grave concerns about the impact of this model for not only our members but students and communities as well.

Currently, the QTU is aware of one regional survey being circulated to some principals asking them for their preferred allocative distribution for 2015. This is quite concerning, given that DETE centrally has not yet made any firm decisions as to how resources will be distributed.

The QTU supports the maintenance of regional and state-wide services and a transparent allocation model. This potentially would not occur if the WSS-SLR is implemented from 2015. The allocation of school-based support staff should occur on need not on an average.

The QTU acknowledges there is a move within DETE to ensure all funds are directed to schools. However, the QTU is of the view that the model being used in this case, one based on averages and not based on need, will significantly disadvantage a number of schools. This has been evident in the two pilot regions, with one significant dispute in North Queensland.

As it stands, the allocation will advantage some schools with below average need (or without any) at the expense of schools with high incidence of need for these services.

QTU commitment

The QTU remains strongly committed to:

  1. maintenance of the regional resource model and a transparent allocation of these resources 
  2. the allocation of WSS-SLR on the basis of the need of the students in the various schools, not on averages
  3. all resources allocated for student services being used for student services in a transparent manner.

The QTU will be communicating with DETE the need to identify mechanisms by which schools can cluster resources. This should be clearly explained to all schools so the benefits can be maximised. All resources allocated for student services should be used for student services, without the added burden of ‘resource skimming’ for other unrelated projects by the region or the cluster.

Any principal asked to complete a survey should only do so if there is the option to keep the resourcing as is until further negotiations occur.

Where to next

The QTU has been, and will continue to be, strongly advocating at senior levels within DETE that the current WSS-SLR proposal as it stands is unacceptable. Individual schools and clusters are deciding on what campaign strategies are required to ensure that resourcing remains attached to need, as opposed to simply on an enrolment basis. Additionally, any change to staffing in this regard would need consideration by the school’s local consultative committee as there are implications for all our members, including principals.

The QTU will keep members informed. However, in the absence of proper and clear information, the QTU believes there should be no commitment to changing the model from a needs-based system to a structure based on enrolment.

The DETE Strategic Plan 2013-2017 (p. 6) notes the government commitment with:

“Students ... (being) be at the centre of decision making with a focus on improving literacy and numeracy outcomes and providing enriching learning experiences to engage and inspire them to become lifelong learners... Government investment in all schools will be targeted to improve outcomes for all Queensland students including those with most need.”

By implementing the WSS-SLR model in its current form, DETE is failing to uphold its own standard that resourcing should be based on need, with decisions made to best prepare students to achieve.

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