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Cutback on ESL Teaching Program Covers Axing 30 NSW Specialist Teachers

Monday 25 Nov – The O’Farrell Government is moving to dismantle the Statewide English as a Second Language program that serves more than 130,000 NSW students – including more than 7000 young children who newly arrive in Australia each year.
The jobs of more than 30 specialist education staff will be axed by the end of 2013. They include 13 Multicultural ESL Consultants who provide curriculum and professional development support to schools with high ESL needs; 17 Community Information Officers; and 1 Refugee Support Officer.
 “Barry O’Farrell’s decision to cut the Statewide ESL program is a devastating blow to children who need extra support to succeed at school,” Opposition Leader John Robertson said today.
In a far-reaching move, it is proposed ESL teachers will now be hired on an uncoordinated, ad hoc basis by school principals without State Government support or oversight.
The cuts come as the Abbott Government announces it will “go back to the drawing back board” and cut money to schools that Labor committed to under the Gonski funding model.
NSW Leader of Opposition John Roberston said,  “The Government has axed 30 jobs, is risking the future of the State’s 896 ESL teachers and effectively telling students from migrant and refugee backgrounds they are on their own.
“With Tony Abbott looking to back away from Gonski, the last thing NSW needs is Barry O’Farrell cutting money from education as well.”
Shadow Education Minister Carmel Tebbutt said: “The ESL progam has existed since 1969 through successive governments and the O’Farrell Government is abrogating its responsibility to provide language support to students who need it, through these changes.”
“Eliminating all specialist curriculum and professional development support will make it very hard for schools to offer ESL programs to the extent they do now.
“Learning English is a key requirement for any child settling in a new country – but NSW schools will no longer have the support they need to provide intensive English instruction.”
Shadow Minister for Citizenship and Communities Guy Zangari said: “Barry O’Farrell is now telling multicultural communities the Government will no longer take responsibility for ESL.”
“If these kids are to have the best chance of success in Australia, they need extra support to learn English.
“The Government’s decision to cut this program betrays multicultural communities.”
The O’Farrell Government has already moved to cut funding to 212 NSW schools from the start of next year. This includes areas like Granville, Londonderry, Campbelltown, Parramatta and Fairfield – which all have high ESL needs.
“With school budgets being slashed, there is no guarantee that principals will be in a position to hire ESL teachers at all,” Mr Zangari said.