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Speech Pathologist Investment Lacking in School Literacy Goal


Rosalie Woodruff MP

Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Tags: Education, Speech Pathology

Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens MP for Franklin

The government’s goal of 100% literacy is laudable, but hollow and meaningless if it’s not supported by the resources required to get there.
 
The Budget papers* show the achievement of expected literacy outcomes for Prep students, during the important early learning years, is sharply declining. Despite this concerning sign, the Liberals are sitting on their hands, failing to recognise the crucial role of speech pathologists in helping students with literacy.
 
When questioned by the Greens in Budget Estimates today, Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff was unable to point to any new support for school speech pathologists in the 2020-2021 State Budget. This follows an increase of just 0.4 FTE in the 2019-20 Budget.
 
The Minister confirmed each speech pathologist in Tasmania’s public education system has responsibility for between four and eight primary schools. The Australian Education Union estimates there is one speech pathologist employed for every 1250 students in Tasmania, instead of the recommended 500.
 
Tasmanian parents would be shocked to hear that speech pathology support is spread so thinly in public schools.
 
If the Liberals were serious about improving literacy outcomes for Tasmanian students, they would be boosting funding for speech pathologists. But the Budget shows instead they’re letting student outcomes slide backwards, and not investing to tackle the problem.
 
The Greens urge the Government to follow the lead we set in our Alternative Budget by committing to funding an additional 50 school speech pathologists. Increasing support specific to this important part of our education system is a critical step to make sure Tasmanian students are set up well for the rest of their education, and for their entire lives.

*Page 77, No 2 Vol 1