Monday, 14 May 2007

Schools need resources, not public disclosure: principals

Primary and secondary school principals say there is a need for more resources to deal with problem students.

Prime Minister John Howard will today unveil a new plan to give parents more information about school discipline, violence and bullying in schools.

But Andrew Blair, president of the Australian Secondary Principals Association, says a policy of public disclosure is a simplistic plan that does not address a chronic lack of funding for schools.

"Schools in Australia are crying out for more support in terms of welfare officers, psychologists to work with these young people who need assistance, that's the real issue," he said.

"We are not in a position to help all young people as we would wish, because simply the resources are not there."

State response
The Northern Territory Education Minister says Mr Howard has raised concerns about violence in schools to distract the public from his flagging popularity.

Paul Henderson says it is a sign of a Prime Minister who is struggling in the polls and lashing out on all sorts of issues.

"We had the federal Education Minister in Darwin and all of the state ministers in Darwin for a meeting of education ministers just three weeks ago and if this was such a huge issue of concern for the Prime Minister, for the Federal Government, I would have thought that they would have raised it at that meeting. It wasn't raised," he said.

New South Wales Education Minister John Della Bosca says Mr Howard's move to play a more interventionist role in state education systems is simply an election stunt.

He says the policy idea shows the Prime Minister is out of touch.

"In his home state in New South Wales, every government school already has a discipline policy and and anti-bullying policy and parents get a report on their operations in the annual report of each school," he said.

"John Howard has suddenly discovered in the shadow of an election the prospect of public education."

Victoria's Education Minister John Lenders says systems are already in place to deal with bullying in Victorian schools.

He says Mr Howard is interfering with the state governments.

"The Prime Minister and the Federal Government run no schools, yet they meddle all the time," he said.

"If the Prime Minister was serious about these issues, he'd actually talk to the states about them rather than announce it by press release, so it's all about policy by headline."


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