Teachers and P&C reps raise concerns over local school conditions

Representatives from P&C committees across the Coast met at Umina Surf Life Saving Club on April 29 to discuss their concerns about current schooling conditions.

Attendees included representatives from the NSW Teachers’ Federation and P&C members from Ettalong Beach Public School, Brisbane Water Secondary College, Umina Campus and Woy Woy Campus, and Woy Woy Public School.

Members from Henry Kendell High School, St Patrick’s Primary School, East Gosford, Central Mangrove Public School, and Glenvale Special School were also in attendance.

According to a media release from Member for Gosford, Liesl Tesch, issues raised at the meeting included: poor school infrastructure, teacher shortages, maintenance backlogs, poor school resources, and pay conditions for teachers.

Tesch said there was not one school present at the meeting who said they had had ‘adequate and appropriate’ school maintenance completed.

“Both public and private high schools and primary schools present at the meeting spoke of the difficulties their school is facing, which unfortunately trickles down into their quality of education,” Tesch said.

“I want the next generation of Coasties to have every opportunity to succeed in whatever it is that they want to do and that starts with investment in their education.”

Nicole Mottlee, a member of the NSW P&C Federation Council for the Central Coast, was also there at the event and shared the same concerns raised by Tesch.

The board member said she had seen a decline in communication from the Department of Education to parents, particularly with the onset of COVID-19 last year.

“As a state representative, I have seen a lack of consultation with parents, both at a local level and state level,” Mottlee said.

“A lot of schools at the meeting were not happy with the current infrastructure and assets they have.

“Particularly during COVID-19, there were more directions given, rather than consultations and decisions were made behind parents’ backs.

“During COVID-19, there was [also] a long process to get the ability for our members to meet via Zoom – it took a number of months before we got any reply back from the Department in order to get the sign off to change our Constitution.

“I know our members suffered because they couldn’t meet, even virtually for three or four months.”

Mottlee said she would like to see more of a consultation plan from the Department of Education, to State representatives.

“It would be an easier process to have our reps on committees, so we’re not blindsided,” Mottlee added.

NSW Minister for Education, Sarah Mitchell, disagreed with the concerns over a lack of infrastructure, referring to $10 million of funding for maintenance programs and upgrades ‘this year alone’.

“The Gosford area continues to benefit from record investment in education …both inside and outside the classroom, schools are benefitting,” Mitchell said.

“16 schools are receiving upgrades under the Regional Renewal Program.

“Students in Gosford are also benefitting from our COVID stimulus programs including free tutoring at every school.”

Maisy Rae