Story in the Age from Henrietta Cook
Cash-strapped state schools are hiring out their teachers to private schools to raise desperately-needed funds.
Schools are finding increasingly creative ways of making extra money, with new figures revealing almost one in four state schools are in deficit.
Philip Rainford – the director of the Harlequin Group of Companies which helps 100 Victorian state schools manage their budgets – said schools were leasing out under-utilised teachers to make ends meet.
Julie Podbury, president of the Australian Principals Federation, says she "has no problem" with schools hiring out teachers.
"If the teacher has got down time, rather than sitting them down doing nothing, the school arranges for them to work at another school. The school gets paid in exchange."
He said many private schools hired these teachers on a casual basis via an "old boys network", for a few days or sometimes weeks.
He said the practice had cropped up in the past few years, and principals were reluctant to speak about it.
An Education Department spokesman said schools were not allowed to make arrangements for staff to work in non-government schools and that the department was investigating the claims.
However, he said principals were allowed to share teachers with other state schools, which reimburse them.
Australian Principals Federation president Julie Podbury said sharing teachers sounded like a creative way of pulling in extra funds, and utilising "under allotted" teachers.
"Every dollar is critical these days," she said.
"I have no problem with it as long as it all goes through the books and is negotiated properly. Otherwise that teacher might be sitting in the staffroom twiddling their thumbs."
Australian Education Union Victorian branch president Meredith Peace said the situation highlighted the financial pressures facing schools.
"I think it is extraordinary that schools are in the position where they are quietly hiring staff out to other schools," she said.
She said the practice breached department rules and regulations.
Ms Pearce said she knew of schools that would be in deficit if they did not receive income from international students. "It is a very sad state of affair when government schools have to look at other funding sources so that they can provide the programs that our students need."
The Age revealed last week that at the end of last year, 361 of Victoria's 1528 government schools were in deficit. A growing number of principals said they had been forced to cut programs, hire cheaper teachers and limit the VCE subjects they offer due to inadequate funding.
Each Victorian public school student received $2253 less state and federal government funding than the national average in 2013-14, making them the lowest funded in the country.
Many Victorian state schools have also turned to crowd-funding to make ends meet, while others supplement their government funding with income from international students.
Schools are also striking up relationships with sponsors, who might display banners at fetes or pay for sports uniforms.
Many schools have arrangements with sponsors, where they will thank them at every school assembly.
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First of all....what teacher has 'down time'? Does she mean APT? ( Administration Planning Time) if that exists they should be providing their support to neighbouring state schools ...FOR FREE!
This must be some kind of Melbourne phenomenon. I haven't heard of any schools thanking....sponsors at assembly ( other than a local business providing something for a raffle) I know of a secondary school here in Ballarat that opens up their catering facilities for students at a nearby private school but I don't know if that is paid for. I know that that state school is expected to pay for resources and facilities they have accessed in the past from local private secondaries.
The government should be ashamed if state schools are being forced to hire out their teachers. It is a disgrace!