Colin Barnett

Colin Barnett


    School charges and contributions clarified

    9/01/2001 4:56 PM

    Education Minister Colin Barnett has moved quickly to dispel confusion surrounding school charges in the new Education Act.

    Mr Barnett said the new Act made it extremely clear that charges were not to be used to cover the overall running of schools such as the costs of education - teaching, buildings or furniture.

    He said charges could only be set to partly cover resources which were directly used by students.

    These included photocopying paper, textbooks, food technology ingredients, sporting equipment, computer disks and school excursions.

    “The charges represent a minor contribution to the cost of these things and the State Government will continue to provide the majority of funding for the costs of materials and services used by students,” Mr Barnett said.

    “All contributions and charges will have to be approved by individual school councils and schools will have to itemise - for parents - the activities and materials expected to be covered by the charges.”

    The Minister said the new charges would apply in 2002. There would be no changes for this school year.

    Primary contributions would be voluntary and set at a maximum of $60 a year.

    Mr Barnett said voluntary contributions for primary schools had been set at $9 a student since 1972 but in recent years many primary school had ignored the $9 contribution and on average, schools were asking for $58 a student a year.

    The Minister said that in 1997 the Government established a panel comprising parent and principals’ representatives, which recommended the contribution for primary students be set at $60 a year.

    This figure reflected what was actually happening in schools.

    Secondary charges for year eight to 10 students remained compulsory and were set at a maximum of $235 a year.

    In 1984 the Labor Government introduced compulsory charges for year eight to ten students because book lists for parents were blowing out.

    Mr Barnett said without compulsory charges schools would not have the extra income to buy materials for use by students.

    “Without this ability to buy books and materials at discounted rates, parents would have to buy these items at much higher prices,” he said.

    “I believe compulsory charges are more equitable.

    “If charges are not compulsory, some parents will opt not to pay, which leads to a reduction in some schools’ incomes.

    “However, the Act allows for compulsory charges to be reduced, waived or payment schemes established to help families experiencing genuine financial hardships.

    “The Coalition Government will implement additional funding initiatives to further help families finding the compulsory charge difficult to pay.

    “It will also help those schools in lower socio-economic areas - which are more likely to be affected by the non-payment of charges - so those students don’t miss out on the extras which add flair and vitality to the educational program from kindergarten to year 12.”

    Mr Barnett said the Government would:
    • increase the Secondary Assistance Scheme grant to cover the full cost of the compulsory charge levied from years eight to 10; and -
    • establish a fund to support schools with families in need who found it hard to make voluntary contributions or did not qualify for Government assistance for payment of compulsory charges.

    Mr Barnett stressed that no student would be excluded from school because of a parent’s inability to make contributions or pay charges.

    Media contact: Diana Callander 9222 9699