By Chris Thomson | posted on November 23, 2018
FOUR tiny primary schools in the Great Southern have escaped having to pay for language teaching delivered from Perth, with the State scrapping plans to charge them $7000-a-class from next year.
In Parliament on November 6, Education Minister Sue Ellery told Shadow Minister Donna Faragher that primary schools with 60 students or fewer would not be charged.
Ms Faragher had asked if fees for language courses provided by the School of Isolated and Distance Education (SIDE) had changed.
Ms Ellery said they had, but that the planned introduction in 2019 of a price-per-class charge had been canned.
Internal sources, who cannot be named, have said the charge per class originally communicated to schools was about $7000-a-year.
Some regional and remote schools offer up to three language classes.
With four affected Great Southern schools ranging in total enrolments from just 22 to 38 students, the sources considered the per class charge – which would have been the same regardless of school size – to be regressive.
Bremer Bay (student population 27), Borden (22), Gairdner (38) and Ongerup (22) are among seven schools in the South West education region – which includes much of the Great Southern – with students enrolled in the language classes.
Thanks to their low enrolments, none of the four schools will be charged under the recently revised model.
In Parliament, Ms Ellery said the new model had been communicated to schools on October 24.
“As a result of feedback that a price per class may not be sustainable for small primary schools, the per-class pricing model was revised for 2019,” she told Ms Faragher.
“From 2019, the price for accessing a primary languages program through SIDE will be calculated on a cost-recovery model, which uses a sliding scale based on student population.
“The price per student for SIDE languages programs will range from a maximum of $701 per student for schools with a primary student population of 200 or more and will reduce [to zero] for schools with small student populations.”
Ms Ellery told The Weekender the full cost recovery figure is $7010 per class.
She said the cost for schools with enrolments of 200 or more would range from a maximum of $701-a-student, reduced for schools with fewer students.
“Every child should have the chance to learn a second language and this is why we made it a priority to make it more affordable for schools with fewer students,” she said.
Last year, Western Australia’s School Curriculum and Standards Authority mandated that from 2018 all Year 3 students would need to study a second language.
By 2023 all students from Years 3 to 8 will be required to learn a second language.