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AEU NEWS v o l u m e 17 I i s s u e 6 I s e p t e m b e r 2 011

The schools

they forgot to

BUILD

Fight against VCAL cuts | Why our funding system is broken | Teaching abroad AEU

t:03 9417 2822 f:1300 658 078 w : w w w. a e u v i c . a s n . a u


Contents cover story

AEU NEWS

The schools they forgot to build

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Branch president: Mary Bluett Branch secretary: Brian Henderson

features

address 112 Trenerry Crescent, Abbotsford, 3067 postal address PO Box 363, Abbotsford, 3067 tel (03) 9417 2822, 1800 013 379 fax 1300 658 078 web www.aeuvic.asn.au email melbourne@aeuvic.asn.au

feature

AEU VIC head office

“the standard mode oF employment in schools is ongoing

— Teacher and ES Agreements

ntract From cogo to on ing

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As the end of the year approaches, many contract staff will be eligible for ongoing employment. Here’s how.

country offices

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T’S that time of year again — the school budgets have been published and schools are planning their staffing for next year. For thousands of teachers and ES staff this is a stressful time: the time when their contracts run out. Almost one in five teachers are employed on fixedterm contracts, and for ES the figure is even higher. But many are eligible to be rolled over without the position being advertised — and many more teachers and ES staff are eligible to be made ongoing. Most contract staff are eligible for ongoing positions if they have worked on contract for more than 12 months (see box). If there are ongoing vacancies in your school they should be filled by eligible contract employees. Only then should any other vacancies be advertised on Recruitment Online (ROL). If there are more eligible staff than positions, a merit-based selection process should be run. Anyone on a fixed-term contract can be rolled over for the length of the original contract — but only if that contract was originally advertised on ROL.

B allarat (03) 5331 1155 | Benalla (03) 5762 2714 Bendigo (03) 5442 2666 | Gippsland (03) 5134 8844 Geelong (03) 5222 6633

Message to principals If you have contract staff you want to keep and if you don’t want to advertise vacancies on ROL — make those staff ongoing. Remember: the standard mode of employment is ongoing. ◆

Reps

e-bulletin

Your weekly Wednesday wrap

The AEU is now sending our school reps a weekly Wednesday email wrap of union news, campaigns, meetings and training.

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eps should read, digest and forward to their colleagues any meeting dates and training opportunities that apply. Whether it’s AEU Active training, our free Apple training courses, retirement advice seminars or an upcoming conference, it’s in the bulletin. If you want to know what’s going on — ask your rep. Reps — if you’re not getting your weekly email, let us know at melbourne@ aeuvic.asn.au.

Changed your details? Your membership can be affected by any changes to your employment. If you have moved house or work location, changed your hours, retired, resigned or picked up a contract, you must let us know so that we can ensure your membership is up to date and your fees are correct. Contact the Membership Centre on (03) 9417 2822 to discuss any changes, or update your details at:

www.aeuvic.asn.au/update 2

aeu news | september 2011

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are you eligible For ongoing?

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OnTRACT teachers and ES staff are eligible to be converted to an ongoing position if they have worked continuously for more than 12 months in one of the following: • A contract advertised for longer than 12 months • Two or more consecutive contracts, at least one of them advertised • An advertised family leave position (teachers only)

COVER: Istockphoto.com

From contract to ongoing

As the end of the year approaches, many contract staff will be eligible for ongoing employment. Here’s how you secure your entitlements.

contract exceptions

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LL advertised jobs must be ongoing unless the school can demonstrate one of the following: 1. A short-term absence of up to 12 months 2. A family leave vacancy (teachers only) 3. Funding is linked to the continued enrolment of a student (ES only) 4. Potential excess — based on data agreed by the DEECD and AEU 5. The position has specific project funding. Contracts for specific projects must be for the full duration of the funding.

integration aides

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IDES are sometimes told they cannot be made ongoing because their funding is linked to ongoing enrolment of students. That may be true, but if a school has a steady number of disabled students over time there is no reason not to offer ongoing employment to some of its integration staff. The next best thing is an “up-to” seven years contract, which sees the integration aide employed as long as the pupil has funding and avoids the need for staff to reapply for their own position each year while still giving the school flexibility.

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Find out more

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hECk the members section of our website at www.aeuvic.asn.au/members — look under pay and conditions. Call the Membership Services Unit for advice on (03) 9417 2822 or toll-free on 1800 013 387. Email the MSU at melbourne@aeuvic.asn.au.

aeu news | september 2011

14 22

Why VCAL matters VCAL has kept thousands of kids in schools but requires intensive support to run. Coordinators explain what is at risk.

Beyond repair

Four reports by blue-chip consultants and leading academics have pulled apart our funding system and pointed the way to a fairer future.

The art of insubordination

Sometimes leadership means doing what’s right, not what you’re told to do, members were told at our annual principals’ conference.

regulars

3 president’s report 4 letters 23 women’s focus 24 AEU training 25 on the phones

27 safety matters 28 classifieds 29 christina adams 30 culture 31 giveaways

contacts

editorial enquiries Nic Barnard tel (03) 9418 4841 fax (03) 9415 8975 email nic.barnard@aeuvic.asn.au

advertising enquiries Lyn Baird tel (03) 9418 4879 fax (03) 9415 8975 email lyn.baird@aeuvic.asn.au

AEU News is produced by the AEU Publications Unit: editor Nic Barnard | designers Lyn Baird, Peter Lambropoulos, Kim Fleming journalists Rachel Power, Sian Watkins | editorial assistant Helen Prytherch PrintPost Approved: 349181/00616 ISSN: 1442—1321. Printed in Australia by Total Print on Re Art Matt 100% Recycled Paper. Free to AEU members. Subscription rate: $60 per annum. Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the AEU News are those of the authors/members and are not necessarily the official policy of the AEU (Victorian Branch). Contents © AEU Victorian Branch. Contributed articles, photographs and illustrations are © their respective authors. No reproduction without permission.

Printed on ReArt Matt 100% recycled paper

AEU Victorian Branch

Homes are being built for tens of thousands of families in Melbourne’s western suburbs. So where are the schools?


president’s report

Ted targets vocational students Baillieu’s latest reverse sees funding cut for some of our most vulnerable students. We cannot sit by as it happens.

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proven to deliver results. Federal funding review funding allows schools to support HE Baillieu Government continues Its paper offers further evidence some of our most vulnerable learners David Gonski’s funding review panel to add to its list of broken that public schools do as well as, if has released four research papers it and provide links between students, promises with the announcement not better than, private schools when commissioned to inform its delibemployers and further training. that $12 million will be slashed student population and resources erations on a new model for funding This money is vital to the success from Victorian Certificate of Applied are taken into account. It urges a schools. of these programs and to the future Learning (VCAL) funding. fresh look at funding for elite private That research confirmed the need of our students in secondary schools, The first broken promise was to schools that do not add value to for a fundamental overhaul and the special schools and TAFE. make Victorian teachers the highest student performance. investment of additional resources in The cuts will lead many schools paid in the nation. Three months into There is cautious optimism that government schools. to take the hard decision to cut office, Baillieu announced that we The research confirms, in my view, this review may just rise to the back or discontinue a program that could expect only 2.5% a year. challenge. However, there is also a that the current arrangements are is providing relevant courses to Pre-election, Baillieu also pledged degree of nervousness as we await to continue the previous government’s students, resulting in higher retention failing the equity test — that every child has the opportunity to achieve a the outcome. rates. program to rebuild or modernise The Gonski panel will deliver its high quality education. New schools in many of our growth AEU every government school by 2016. PREFERRED PROVIDERS final report and ­recommendations Federal president Angelo The state budget confirmed this as his areas are about to introduce VCAL in December, with the Federal Gavrielatos points to other key as they enrol their first senior second broken promise. Government due to report its findings of the research papers, secondary students. Without In further bad news, the budget response to Parliament in March. including the need identified by coordination funding, they simply will also ended funding for 115 Koorie A nervous wait indeed. ◆ the ACER for substantial long-term not have the time and resources to specialists, literacy and numeracy investment in schools with low-SES coaches and Ultranet coaches, plus a do so. students. These are primarily The Baillieu Government has further $481m in education cuts. ­government schools. identified low completion rates in Now government schools stand to The Nous group says initiatives rural Victoria as a priority — yet it is lose up to $126,000 per annum in Alan Cooper, Geoff Allen & Staff to improve equity and performance slashing a program that is keeping VCAL funding — despite a commitLevel St Kilda Road, Melbourneat-risk 3004students engaged and in should focus on investing in teachers ment that3/432 cuts would not hit frontline Retirement Victoria is the AEU’s preferred of financial retirement planning services to members. andprovider in support foranddisadvantaged school. services, or jobs. Visitprograms us at www.retirevic.com.au Retirement Victoria Pty Ltd is an authorised representative of Millennium3 Financial Services Pty Lts AFSL 244252 schools — not in programs such as The AEU will campaign to reverse VCAL is an applied learning AEU Vic branch president charter schools which have not been these cuts. certificate with a vocational base; the

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letters Letters from members are welcome. Send to: aeu news, po box 363, Abbotsford, 3067, fax (03) 9415 8975 or email aeunews@aeuvic.asn.au. Letters should be no more than 250 words and must include name, workplace and contact details of the writer. Letters may be edited for space and clarity. Next deadline: 19 October, 2011.

Facts bear out success of learning coaches I WONDER how much Dianne Ivers really knows about the role and outcomes of teaching and learning coaches (Letters, AEU News, August). Her generalisations seem to indicate very little. As a TLC over the past four years I have worked in three schools with incredibly professional educators. Some have a wealth of experience, knowledge and skill; others are just beginning their careers. These teachers and leaders take on the professional development opportunity that coaching promotes with dedication and a belief that their role as educators includes the importance of Vocation, vocation, vocation There has always been conjecture as to whether teaching is a career, a job or a vocation. A career is associated with a defined path without artificial ceilings. The harder you work, the more you get paid, the higher you rise up the ladder. There is a pay ceiling for teaching. Recognition is more often than not negative in the press and by our employers. Effectively in Victoria, teaching is therefore not a career. A job implies a clearly defined task with set hours; work is not taken home unless overtime is paid. With all the extras being added onto the curriculum that were once the province of families, real working hours for teachers have been extended by 25% or more. Paid overtime is unheard of. Effectively in Victoria, teaching is therefore not a job. A vocation is best described as a calling. It is often associated with lack of recognition and poor pay. It is usually service-based with productivity virtually impossible to measure. Teachers soon discover that teaching is one of the most difficult, mentally taxing and frustrating occupations if your heart isn’t in it. Teaching therefore is a vocation. It is poorly paid. It takes place in poorly funded environments. Yet people do it because satisfaction can be found in

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aeu news | september 2011

reflection, review and refinement. They appreciate that as a coach I will support them as they acquire new knowledge and skills that will improve the learning of the students they work with. I know this because I have qualitative data that I use to make sure I am doing my job properly. These teachers also gather data to measure their effectiveness and plan strategically. I wonder where this member sits with professional reflection, accountability and moving out of her comfort zone to build her professional practice. She implies that data collection and documentation are a waste of time and an additional workload.

the eyes of the students we teach. You can’t live on satisfaction though. Soon Western Australian teachers may get paid nearly 12% more than Victorians. Victoria struggles to retain teachers and encourage young people to take on teaching. If it was seen as a career, more people would want to teach. — Greg Tuck, Nyora Primary School Are men fair game? AS A loyal AEU/VTU member for over 40 years, I would like to make the following comments regarding the Women’s Focus article by Barb Jennings (AEU News, August). When similar personal attacks occurred on previous prime ministers such as Howard and Keating, would the women’s officer have said that “young men observing this treatment could be forgiven for deciding that they won’t aspire to leadership if this is what awaits them” — or is it OK to make personal attacks on males in leadership positions but not on females? Any such personal attacks on either gender should be abhorred. It is unfortunate that the AEU is seen to be supporting one political party and gender. I find it unusual that the AEU has a women’s officer position when schools phased out positions for men and

Perhaps she has said more about her approach than the fine work that the coaches of this state have achieved. I have differences with the AEU Vic branch, but its active, ongoing endorsement of the professional profile of members of the Victorian government education system (including coaches), and its commitment to promoting teaching as a highly regarded profession, are unquestionable. As a long-term member of this union I expect and I receive union support. — Sue Ebert, ESL Coach Pembroke and Scoresby Primary Schools

women over 40 years ago. Surely it is time the AEU supported equality for both genders and that the title of the position should now be gender equity officer or something similar. With a desperate need for males to be attracted to the teaching service, particularly in primary schools, such an article by a women’s officer in the industrial organisation representing teachers does nothing to encourage males to join the teaching profession. — Michael Padula, CRT, Bairnsdale Thank you and goodbye HAVING retired from teaching on April 12, I now wish to resign my union membership. I would like to acknowledge how important and supportive the union has been

throughout my teaching career (which began in 1972) — from the consistent and persistent efforts to keep teachers’ pay and conditions to a fair and acceptable level, to the assistance in retrieving lost/stolen long service leave and regaining rightful pay and experience status when returning from time out of the service, and also for the advice and assistance given when I was in union leadership roles and needed help for others. There have obviously been far too many issues to mention over my years in the union, but without its support and efforts, teaching in Victoria would be a very different career in very different circumstances. — Pauline Wilson, Drysdale

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news

Campaign grows against VCAL cuts Outcry from teachers as schools lose cash to run successful vocational program. Nic Barnard AEU News

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FFICIAL documents contradict claims that key funding to establish Victoria’s vocational education program was intended to be temporary. The Baillieu Government has axed funding for school VCAL coordinators, slashing almost $50 million over four years and putting the program in jeopardy in many schools. Premier Ted Baillieu claims the money was only intended to help establish the program when VCAL was introduced in 2003. But advice issued to schools in 2003 shows that funding for planning and development was separate from coordination funding, which schools use to build and maintain links with local businesses and training providers and to support students. Coordination funding was intended to cover, among other things, “all aspects of VCAL student administration including enrolment, assessment, monitoring, quality assurance and record keeping”. The planning and development funding was dropped several years ago, as expected. VCAL is credited with keeping thousands of disengaged and disadvantaged students in school, particularly in rural and regional areas and in special schools. Often involving outside trainers and businesses and working with hard-to-reach and disengaged students, many with special needs, it is particularly resource intensive. Despite this, the program continues to grow. News of the cuts prompted an outcry from principals, coordinators and parents. AEU Primary and Secondary Council on September 2 unanimously condemned the cuts and committed to a campaign

to reverse the Government’s decision. Deputy president Meredith Peace said: “The Government is hiding behind a façade of saying these cuts will have no impact on schools, but we’re already hearing stories from schools that they will have a dramatic effect on programs and on students. “Many of the students taking VCAL are already disadvantaged. The Government is in effect abandoning these kids and disadvantaging them even further. “Rural and regional schools in particular will struggle without funding to develop and maintain the partnerships that are crucial to the success of the program. “It will have a severe impact on those students because schools will no longer be able to provide the one-to-one support that they need to continue in education and training or move into employment.” In a snap survey of principals, some told the

AEU they would have to cut other courses to protect VCAL, while others said that off-campus work would have to be cut back. Some said they would drop the program entirely. Principals who had committed to introducing or expanding VCAL said they had been left high and dry. Michelle Roberts, principal at Mordialloc College, said: “I endorsed the proposal to offer VCAL here last year, knowing we had the funding support to do this and was expecting an increase in funding next year with double the amount of students involved. “Now it has been taken away without stakeholders having a say.” The AEU campaign aims to build public support against the cuts, with principals and school councils urged to set out the impact on their programs and students. ◆ Why VCAL matters: page 12. More reaction at www.myschoolneeds.com.au.

Negotiations update

AEU and government negotiators are meeting weekly in Schools Agreement talks. Protocols mean we can say little in print, but members can get a full update at AEU regional and sub-branch meetings. Find your nearest regional meeting at www.aeuvic.asn.au/ regional. Or invite an organiser to your school at melbourne@ aeuvic.asn.au. ◆

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news

Tackle our segregated schools Demography is destiny under our skewed and divided system — but it doesn’t have to be that way, Chris Bonnor tells members.

Nic Barnard AEU News

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USTRALIA has created a segregated schools system that damages the education of disadvantaged students — and the government is making it worse, educationalist and author Chris Bonnor has told AEU members. Bonnor returned to AEU council this month to present his latest analysis of public and private school intakes, income and outcomes in

the light of this year’s My School data and four research reports released by the Gonski school funding review. “To parents who say I should be allowed to pay school fees and give my kids an advantage, we’re saying: ‘What then is the role of government?’” he told council. “Is the role of government to make a bad thing better or worse? Government at the moment is party to making things worse.” Bonnor, a former New South Wales public school principal and author with Jane Caro of The Stupid Country: How Australia is dismantling public education, said that one of the most important resources a school had was its intake of students.

Just as there was a close correlation between students’ socio-economic background and their NAPLAN results, so there was a similar correlation between a school’s results and the average SES score of its students. Low SES students who attended high SES schools received a boost in their results — as demonstrated by comparing the results of students living and educated in Melbourne’s disadvantaged north-west with those travelling to schools outside the region. Across Australia, 60% of disadvantaged students attend schools that are predominantly disadvantaged — with the inverse true for well-off students. By contrast, most students in highperforming Scandinavian countries

attend schools with a mixed cohort. “We’ve allowed the social separation of schools to impact on kids and affect their futures more so than other countries,” Bonnor said. “The way we are shifting these kids around schools is actually compounding the problem that we face in disadvantaged schools. Kids that attend schools that are advantaged socio-economically and educationally actually receive a boost. Kids that enrol in schools that are disadvantaged face more challenges and disadvantages. “We’ve always known this but the data in the past four or five years is stacking up. This is the core of the problem that the funding review has to resolve, and I think it will.” ◆ More on the funding review: p14–15

Preschool back pay win Barclay TAFE case I teach heads to High Court T too! T HE AEU has won almost $11,500 in back pay for an early childhood teacher in a childcare centre who had been refused maternity leave by her not-for-profit Play fair in childcare employer. Her employer had also tried to move the member from the early childhood VECTAA agreement which covered her to the basic award. The member was already nursing her two-week-old baby when the employer told her it would not pay her entitlement. But after intervention from the AEU and lawyers Holding Redlich, she received back pay of $11,443,32. The issue highlights the poor conditions that many preschool teachers face in the childcare sector where pay can also be tens of thousands of dollars less than in community or council preschools. The AEU has launched the campaign “I Teach Too: Play Fair in Childcare” to address pay and conditions in the sector. ◆

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aeu news | september 2011

he High Court has given Bendigo TAFE special leave to appeal in its case against AEU deputy VP Greg Barclay. The move follows the ruling by the full bench of the Federal Court in February that Barclay, then an AEU rep at Bendigo TAFE, had been wrongly stood down by his employer for conducting union activities. The Federal Court ruled that the institute had taken “adverse action” against Barclay in contravention of the Fair Work Act, over an email he sent to members at Bendigo TAFE in his capacity as a rep. AEU branch secretary Brian Henderson said: “We believe we have a strong case in law and we’re quite prepared to argue it in the High Court.” The case has attracted national attention as an early test case of the Fair Work Act. It is yet to be listed for hearing in the High Court. ◆


news

Education’s primary public servant

The new government has turned to outside education to deliver cuts and reforms across the sector. Nic Barnard AEU News

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ICTORIA’S new education secretary has described his new portfolio as “an Aladdin’s Cave of issues”. Richard Bolt, who took over as secretary of the Department of Education and Early Childhood on August 29, signalled the need to invest more in early childhood and smooth transitions into school, and to deepen market reforms in the skills sector as among the immediate challenges. For schools he said: “I guess we have concerns that some of our educational results have plateaued temporarily or possibly there’s something more systematic to be done to continue an upward curve.” Mr Bolt arrives from the Department of Primary Industries where he was secretary for five years. Acting education secretary Jeff Rosewarne has been promoted to Mr Bolt’s DPI position. In an interview with AEU News nine days into the job, Mr Bolt said he wanted to “shorten the distance

New education secretary Richard Bolt

between leadership (in the department) and people at the coalface” and better integrate early childhood, schools and skills. With education facing $481 million in cuts over four years, he said the department would be undergoing change of a level not seen in recent years. “One of my priorities is to plan strategically with as much notice, as much integration and as much of a medium-term view as possible,” Mr Bolt said. “We owe it to our client base, the public of Victoria.” For schools, he said: “We have clearly a strong government direction to … give the department more of a service focus with relationship to schools and the regional networks, and create less of a perception and reality that we’re second-guessing the decisions of those communities.” Speaking of the skills reforms, he said: “I’m not an unadulterated free marketeer — I don’t think anyone in public administration can be. But I do think that markets frequently have a quite impressive ability to beat central decision-making

in allocating resources well. But markets have to be well designed … They have to have regulations put around them to guard against failure and of course we do have quality regulation across the different sectors.” VET students possibly needed more information about job opportunities and course quality when they made decisions about training. Apart from that, he said: “I think there is pretty sound reason to deepen the experiment. … It’s a system that’s young and where evolution and augmentation is needed, we’ll be advising on that.” Mr Bolt — Herald Sun iconoclast Andrew Bolt’s younger brother, though they are understood not to share the same views — was for many a surprise appointment, coming from outside the education sector. He said he made his interest known after predecessor Peter Dawkins resigned last year. But the reality of the job had exceeded the expectation. “The more I get into it, the more stimulating I find it.” ◆

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news

The warrior class A Gippsland school’s eco-warriors are changing the way their school works. Cynthia Karena AEU News

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T ALL started with a parent coming to school to show students some animals. Then he built a shed for the chooks and created a vegetable garden for students to look after. The chooks and garden became part of a sustainability program at Moe South Street Primary School in Gippsland, and a professional development visit from CERES (Centre for Education and Research in Environmental Strategies) gave the school some other ideas. “It’s a sign of the times that we should all be aware of our ­environment and look after it,” says Grade 5/6 teacher Dominique Commerford, who helps organise the sustainability program. The school has joined Sustainability Victoria’s Resource Smart Schools program and, to encourage environmental leadership among students, South Street has 20 eco-warriors, two

from each class. “My grade 6 class voted for their eco-warrior representatives,” says Dominique. “Students had to give reasons why they were interested.” Eco-warriors have a monitoring role within the school, says principal Lawrence Fildes, who wanted to give sustainability “a bit of a push”. “Our eco-warriors make sure students pick up litter and turn off lights. A group of senior (ecowarriors) use Resource Smart Schools software to track our water, electricity and gas bills.” The school has changed its rubbish system. Instead of everything going to landfill, it has recycle bins for compost, paper, plastic, glass, and metal. Water is collected from empty ice-cream containers under taps and put onto school gardens; compost bins are used in every classroom and emptied into a worm farm; and manure from the chook shed is used in garden beds.

“The students love the hands-on activities,” says Dominique. “This program gives them another area to excel. They don’t have to be Einstein to succeed.” “We link sustainability with our curriculum so it’s not forgotten,” says Lawrie. “I’d say our program has definitely made a difference. We have far less rubbish in our yard (and)

we’ve reduced our electricity and water usage.” In an acknowledgement of their efforts, the eco-warriors all got medals recently from Peter Hall, the National Party eastern region MP. ◆ www.resourcesmart.vic.gov.au/for_ educators_3351.html

Year 3 student Jay digs into composting.

Green schools End offshore conference fixation A

SCHOOL that cut its greenhouse emissions by 40% and slashed its energy bills by $40,000 a year is among those passing on their secrets at this year’s Green Schools Conference. The joint AEU/Independent Education Union event takes place on November 18, with a line-up of experts in sustainability and education and school-led workshops offering hands-on ideas and strategies. Speakers include Professor Dave Griggs, director of the Monash Sustainability Institute, Dr Amy Cutter-Mackenzie, founder of the Sustainability, Environment and Education Research Group at Monash University; and federal Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change Mark Dreyfus. Workshops will demonstrate how schools can develop and maintain sustainable practices, build the environment into the curriculum and inspire future environmental leaders. Westernport Secondary College will present a workshop on climate change leaders. The school is recognised nationally as a leading school in environmental sustainability and since 2004 has cut emissions by over 40% through a combination of technology and behavioural change. The conference is aimed at both primary and secondary schools. Find out more or book a place at www.tln.org.au/greenschools. ◆

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HE AEU has joined 200 community organisations across Australia to demand a new approach to treating asylum seekers and refugees. In a powerful joint statement, signatories called on both parties to depoliticise the debate, and for the Government to “end the fixation with offshore ‘solutions’ and establish a just and humane approach to asylum seekers.” The statement, published in The Australian newspaper, was coordinated by ACOSS, the Australian Council of Social Services after the High Court declared the Federal Government’s Malaysia refugee swap illegal. The Government should show leadership on the issue and use the ruling as an opportunity to reframe the national debate, the statement said. It should immediately rule out offshore processing and mandatory detention, increase Australia’s intake of refugees in the region, and work towards a regional solution to the plight of asylum seekers. “As a country, we must adopt just and humane policies on refugees and asylum seekers and in so doing raise the level of debate and treatment of some of the most vulnerable people in the world,” the statement concluded. “Only then will Australia be able to hold its head high in the international community as a nation with a commitment to human rights and a deep appreciation of the plight of people seeking a safe haven from persecution and a better way of life.” The full statement can be found at bit.ly/ny5HbM. ◆


news

treated royally

How did your school celebrate ES Month?

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AN any school match the treatment handed out to ES staff at Skene Street Special School in Gippsland during ES month? The Stawell school’s education support staff were crowned as princes and princesses, complete with cloaks and crowns, in a playground ceremony before a morning tea in their honour. Principal Robyn Anyon spoke for many school leaders when she said: “Nothing is ever too much for our ES staff. Without them our school would not be such a wonderful place for our students, their families and the staff.” August was full of activity and events for ES members. Hundreds of members attended our Coffee, Cake and a Chat events across the state and enjoyed a chance to meet colleagues from other schools and their AEU organisers. Some of the groups enjoyed it so much they have decided to meet each term. AEU organisers visited schools, presenting cups to members and running workshops and information sessions. Many ES took part in AEU Active training. The AEU also sponsored events at schools and conferences run by ES networks, such as the Hume Business Managers Conference. The big finale of the month was our own ES Conference on August 31, which

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ELEN Bacon and Arthur Berese are AEU Reps of the Month for their work at Williamstown High School standing up for members’ rights and consultation. Sub-branch president Helen and vice-president Arthur have used grievance processes several times, among other actions, to ensure proper consultation occurs at the school and that class sizes remain at 25. AEU secondary sector vice president Justin Mullaly called the pair “tenacious”. “They’re really effective reps,

Nominate your REP!

focused on creating healthy, safe working environments. The conference was full of energy and participants made their voices heard during the Q & A panel which ran well over time. It was motivating to see so many ES eager to ask questions — and challenge the answers. Elsewhere, Croydon Secondary College’s principal class staff put on their pinnies to cook a healthy early breakfast to mark ES Month and the school’s Wellbeing Week. Braybrook College took staff out to a welldeserved meal at Poynton’s Nursery. Teachers at Rosamond Special School stepped in for yard duty so that ES staff could dig into the lavish morning tea the teachers had laid on. Let us know how your school marked ES Month — email kathryn.lewis@ aeuvic.asn.au. ◆

really good at following up and keeping on following up. “There was a curriculum review recently which didn’t allow for much staff input. Helen, with the support of members, was able to get a better process set up with more input which led to much better outcomes.” Helen said: “We’ve basically been keeping consultation at the forefront with management, because they sometimes seem to forget. “Some people think a grievance is a bad thing, but it’s not. It’s a way

From top: ES staff at Skene St Special School, Stawell, crowned as princes and princesses for ES Month, and coffee and cake for regal staff from Broadmeadows, Ballarat and Braybrook.

of trying to sort out who is right and who is wrong, and sort out a whole issue. You get people coming in from outside to help you do that. I think it’s a really good process.” Other issues the sub-branch has dealt with included plans to staff a study centre with just one teacher for 60 students. Helen said the biggest issue facing the union generally was active members. “We’ve got members but they’re not always active particularly in their own agreement,” she warned. ◆

Arthur Berese & Helen Bacon Williamstown High School

Does your school or workplace AEU Rep deserve special recognition? Email aeunews@aeuvic.asn.au telling us who you’re nominating and why. The Rep of the Month receives a limited edition AEU leather briefcase.

www.aeuvic.asn.au

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news

get secular Department’s Schools option

Out-of-date, over-priced and underpowered is the verdict of many teachers on the Education Department’s new MacBook leasing program. Nic Barnard AEU News

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HE Education Department is accused of presiding over a fiasco with its offer to lease obsolete MacBook laptops to teachers — despite Apple belatedly proposing a higher spec model. With a 50% price hike to $11.50 a fortnight adding insult to injury, and the lease period extended from three years to four, teachers responded furiously. The white MacBook is no longer sold in Australia and may not have enough grunt for some essential teaching programs. A later offer by Apple of a MacBook Pro at $13.80 a fortnight was rejected by the department as too expensive. The alternative Lenovo PC, dubbed the Bonobo by some teachers, costs $4. The AEU has taken up the issue with Educaiton Minister Peter Hall. Many teachers who need Macs for work have found themselves in a Catch 22, unable to supply their own machine because it doesn’t have the department’s eduSTAR software and schools will not always offer tech support or even, in some cases, Internet access. In the fast-moving world of IT, teachers will be using a model six years out of date by the end of its lease. With laptops now an essential part of a teacher’s daily equipment and even payslips only accessible via school IT networks, the AEU has logged the department for every teacher to be provided with a computer. AEU president Mary Bluett said the department should have accepted Apple’s latest offer and at least given teachers a choice of model. “The department has bungled the deal with Apple and it is Victorian teachers who will have to suffer the consequences. In many cases, they will be working on a computer inferior to the ones in their classroom. “Victorian teachers must be equipped with current tools that allow them to deliver a quality education.” The AEU received a barrage of complaints from Mac-using members. “We should not be paying for computers at all,” one teacher told the AEU. “What they are offering us is superseded stock that’s already been withdrawn from retail outlets. And a four-year lease — how are we to become leaders in education?” Another said she needed a Mac to teach her animation class. “It feels like the Education Department has regretted its decision to allow Macs and is pushing people away from them.” ◆

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aeu news | september 2011

chools will be allowed to hire welfare officers or youth workers rather than chaplains under changes to the Federal Government’s school chaplaincy program. Federal Education Minister Peter Garrett said that from next year schools could choose between hiring a welfare officer or chaplain. New appointees will need a Certificate IV in Youth Work, Pastoral Care or equivalent qualification. Existing chaplains without the minimum qualifications will have to complete the Certificate IV units in mental health and making referrals. About 500 chaplains will have 12 months to complete the units. Last year the Federal Government pledged $222 million to extend the program, introduced by John Howard in 2006, to an extra 1000 schools and guaranteeing program funding to 2014. Mr Garrett said the chaplaincy program had been “very popular” and the Government wanted to extend its benefits to schools that preferred “a secular worker”. The changes follow extensive public feedback. AEU federal president Angelo Gavrielatos welcomed the changes as acknowledgement of the program’s inherent flaws. It had undermined the secular traditions of public schools and given important student

care and support responsibilities to unqualified people. “There remains a huge shortfall in the resources that schools have to employ qualified professionals such as counsellors and psychologists,” he said. Win on religious instruction Resources are also an issue following changes to Victoria’s special religious instruction policy, the AEU says. The Education Department changed its SRI policy last month to allow non-attending students to engage in other forms of independent learning or non-core curriculum activities, provided they are supervised by teachers. Previously, secular instruction could not be timetabled while some students attended religious education classes. Three parents are taking legal action in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal on the grounds that the classes discriminate against non-attending students. The new policy also reverses the “opt out” requirement on parents. Now, a student will only attend SRI if his or her guardians have signed a consent form. AEU branch president Mary Bluett said the new policy would be ­unworkable without extra teaching support. ◆  — Sian Watkins

Cartoon © Pope/The Canberra Times

 deal crumbles

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news

On yer marks… How’s your training going for the Teachers’ Games?

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NEW SOUTH WALES TEACHERS resisted attempts by the O’Farrell Coalition to divide and rule public sector workers, taking part in mass protest rallies against the new government’s pay cap and assault on industrial rights. The Government had applied to the NSW industrial relations commission to prevent teachers — but not other public employees — from taking action. NSW Teachers’ Federation president Bob Liscombe called it an act of hypocrisy. “This is the same commission which the Government’s IR legislation has deemed unfit to hear wage cases for public sector workers.” Despite the move, teachers joined tens of thousands of workers in rallies across the state on September 8. AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY ACT teachers have overwhelmingly voted for industrial action after rejecting the latest pay offer from the ACT Government. Three-quarters backed stopwork action of up to a day, and more than 80% endorsed a variety of bans, including the use of personal cars for work, filling out absence records, and implementing any new initiatives. Meanwhile an offer to ES staff of 7% over two years with no trade-offs has found wide acceptance, and a ballot for action failed to get up. The AEU has now accepted the offer. SOUTH AUSTRALIA AEU SA has joined other public sector unions to launch a Charter for Working South Australians as the next stage of the campaign against state budget cuts. The 10-point charter sets out public sector unions’ demands and priorities from the State Government's new leadership. Over the next two and a half years, unions will measure all political parties against how they respond to the charter's aims to protect and improve working conditions. ◆

HERE’S a whiff of liniment in the air as teachers and ES staff across Victoria enter the final, intensive phase of their preparations for the 2011 Teachers Games in Bendigo. Roger the Bear is no exception. The AEU mascot will be prominent around the traps for the event, which runs from September 25–27. The AEU is again sponsoring the games and offering members free drinks — in what is absolutely not a ploy to give the union’s teams a competitive edge. Show your AEU membership card at the Bendigo Stadium at registration on Sunday to collect your drinks voucher, which can be redeemed at the Foundry Hotel in High Street after 7pm on Monday or Tuesday. You should also collect your lucky wristband, making you eligible for a range of prizes throughout the games. And if you sign up a new member at the games you will receive a free AEU hoodie. Keep an eye out for Roger and other AEU staff at the games and remember — as an AEU member you’re already a winner. ◆

Courts punish unregistered teachers

Sian Watkins AEU News

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OUR teachers have been successfully prosecuted in magistrate courts hearings by the Victorian Institute of Teaching for teaching without registration. In three cases the person was not qualified to teach; the fourth had taught outside conditions imposed by the VIT on his permission to teach. All four pleaded guilty. One person was fined $1000 and the others were put on good behaviour bonds. In each case the defendant was ordered to pay between $1,500 and $5000 towards the VIT’s costs and contributions to the court fund. The VIT has filed charges against two more people for unregistered teaching. In all, 53 teachers employed by the Education Department were found to be unregistered during an audit by the VIT this year. All cases are being investigated for possible criminal or disciplinary action arising from the non-registration. VIT chief executive Melanie Saba told a principals’ conference last month that penalties for unregistered teaching included prosecution and fines of up to $14,000 for the teacher and employer. It could also result in formal or informal hearings for the

teacher and/or the recruiting principal. Ms Saba recommended several ways that principals could avoid hiring non-registered teachers. They could: • Sight and photocopy teachers’ VIT registration cards • Check the online register at www.vit.vic.gov.au • Contact the institute • Record registration expiry dates, particularly for those applying for “permission to teach” registration • Make expectations about VIT registration clear to teaching staff. Permission to teach registration is intended only for those who are not qualified teachers but who have been offered short-term teaching work. As of last month, 115,790 teachers were registered with the VIT. Of these, 70% are “currently engaged in schools”. Nearly three-quarters (72%) are women. The largest cohort (14.8%) is aged 50–54 years old, while 16% are aged under 30. ◆

www.aeuvic.asn.au

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feature

“The standard mode of employment in schools is ongoing” — Teacher and ES Agreements

T c a r t n o c m o r F g n i o g n to o As the end of the year approaches, many contract staff will be eligible for ongoing employment. Here’s how.

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T’S that time of year again — the school budgets have been published and schools are planning their staffing for next year. For thousands of teachers and ES staff this is a stressful time: the time when their contracts run out. Almost one in five teachers are employed on fixedterm contracts, and for ES the figure is even higher. But many are eligible to be offered a further period of employment without the position being advertised — and many more teachers and ES staff are eligible to be made ongoing. Most contract staff are eligible for ongoing positions if they have worked on contract for more than 12 months (see right). If there are ongoing vacancies in your school they should be filled by eligible contract employees. Only then should any other vacancies be advertised on Recruitment Online (ROL). If there are more eligible staff than positions, a merit-based selection process should be run within the school. Anyone on a fixed-term contract can be offered a further period up to the length of the original contract — but only if the original contract was advertised on ROL.

Message to principals If you have contract staff you want to keep and if you don’t want to advertise vacancies on ROL — make those staff ongoing. Remember: the standard mode of employment is ongoing. ◆

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Are you eligible for ongoing?

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ontract teachers and ES staff are eligible to be converted to an ongoing position if they have worked continuously for more than 12 months in one of the following: • A contract advertised for longer than 12 months • Two or more consecutive contracts, at least one of them advertised • An advertised family leave position (teachers only)

Contract exceptions

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ll advertised jobs must be ongoing unless the school can demonstrate one of the following: 1. A short-term absence of up to 12 months 2. A family leave vacancy (teachers only) 3. Funding is linked to the continued enrolment of a student (ES only) 4. Potential excess — based on data agreed by the DEECD and AEU 5. The position has specific project funding. Contracts for specific projects must be for the full duration of the funding.

Integration aides

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ides are sometimes told they cannot be made ongoing because their funding is linked to ongoing enrolment of students. That may be true, but if a school has a steady number of disabled students over time there is no reason not to offer ongoing employment to some of its integration staff. The next best thing is an “up-to” seven years contract, which sees the integration aide employed as long as the pupil has funding and avoids the need for staff to reapply for their own position each year while still giving the school flexibility.

Find out more

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heck the members section of our website at www.aeuvic.asn.au/members — look under pay and conditions. Call the Membership Services Unit for advice on (03) 9417 2822 or toll-free on 1800 013 387. Email the MSU at melbourne@aeuvic.asn.au.


campaign

Why VCAL matters Bronwyn Carlos coordinates VCAL at Hallam Senior College photo: asia upward

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O UNDERSTAND the importance of Victoria’s applied learning certificate, one only needs to listen to the teachers who run it. A post on the AEU’s My School Needs blog about the VCAL cuts prompted a stream of angry and upset comments from teachers and parents. One VCAL coordinator from a small outer-eastern school was typical. She wrote: “My students would have left school and hung out in front of Coles all day. Instead our school’s VCAL program offered 22 (eight girls and 14 boys) students a place to learn the skills they needed to achieve their vocation. “Of these 22, eight have been offered apprenticeships through their work placement, eight intend to continue to senior VCAL (Year 12 equivalent), two have full-time jobs and the rest continue to study, work and gain confidence that will lead them onto further education or full time work placement.” Another demanded: “Where is the support for these kids to come from? The Government is asking more and more of schools and teachers while giving less and less.” At Hallam Senior College in Melbourne’s outer east, Bronwyn Carlos coordinates VCAL for 200 students — a huge and growing program that includes construction, hairdressing, hospitality and performing arts. The college is building a new trade training centre with automotive and building and ­construction facilities, a hairdressing salon and a commercial kitchen. Hallam receives the maximum $126,000 in VCAL funding — money it will lose next year just as student numbers rise to 250.

VCAL has kept thousands of kids in schools but requires intensive support to run. Coordinators tell Nic Barnard what is at risk.

“VCAL is absolutely vital,” Carlos says. “The programs we run are really broad; when kids have choices, they are more likely to stay engaged.” She is eager to explain what coordinating VCAL involves. Premier Ted Baillieu considers the program “mature” — as if it can now run itself. Not so, says Carlos. “VCAL is not one-size-fits-all. All VCE courses have a study design so there are certain things you have to do right across the state. VCAL has guidelines and elements that we have to cover but it gives us far more flexibility. “You can’t provide the same curriculum to every single group. You have to tailor the curriculum to their interests and needs. So if you have a group of young people that might be risk-takers, you might tailor the course to road safety or safe partying. If you have a group of recent arrivals, they might need to know about how this country operates, what’s safe, career paths. “That’s the beauty of VCAL: it’s so flexible. Teachers don’t deliver the same curriculum every year.” Add to that the smaller class sizes (“Applied learners can be a bit more … bubbly”), the greater need for pastoral support and for professional discussions between teachers and the costs mount. Then there are the reams of paperwork involved in working with employers and other training providers. In some schools, students can spend two or three days a week on placements. “You’ve got to find the student a position; you have to be continually in touch with the employer making sure the student is safe, follow up on occupational health and safety,” Carlos says.

“These kids are not prone to tell you if there’s something wrong. So you need to keep an eye on them as an adult and make sure they’re OK — that they’re being paid correctly and have proper workcover, that there’s no harassment in the workplace, that they’re actually learning skills and not just sweeping the floor — but at the same time that they’re not operating heavy machinery. “You can’t just sign a place off and say ‘She’ll be right’. It would be a dereliction of duty.” For Hallam SC, the cuts are equivalent to losing two teachers. School council president Phil Pallot has written to Skills Minister Peter Hall to protest against the cuts, saying VCAL is “significantly more resource intensive” than VCE and warning that any further cuts “would throw senior secondary schools like Hallam into crisis”. “The irony is that Victoria claims to have one of the most successful school-based vocational systems … in Australia, and indeed the world,” he wrote. “I am very disappointed, worried and wondering whether the Government ever really understood the value of the program developed here in Victoria to significantly address retention, skill shortage and the health and wellbeing of all our young people.” Carlos is an active member of her local learning and employment network, where the cuts have provoked anguished debate. But she is trying to be positive. “This could be an opportunity for us to have a voice. These are kids we really care about. “VCAL is the perfect way to look after these kids, keep them engaged, keep them interested, give them skills and give them information about careers.” ◆

www.aeuvic.asn.au

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study

Beyond repair Four reports by blue-chip consultants and leading academics have pulled apart our funding system and pointed the way to a fairer alternative. AEU research officer John Graham reports.

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EW research commissioned by the national School Funding Review outlines why the present school funding system is beyond repair and what a new model might look like. The review panel commissioned four separate sets of researchers to examine issues it believed required further analysis. Their briefs covered the effectiveness of existing funding models, the feasibility of creating a national funding resource standard, the funding of disadvantaged students and strategies to improve educational outcomes. Despite “noises off” from powerful private school lobbyists, none of the four research papers endorses the present federal funding model. Nor does the review panel. In its accompanying introductory paper, the panel states that existing arrangements “are not easy to understand and lack transparency, particularly funding for disadvantaged students”. Panel consultations so far (and the more than 7000 submissions received) “have made a case for fundamental change in the way we fund schooling at all levels of government”. The panel, however, knows it is tip-toeing through a minefield. It wants everyone to understand that the findings of the research papers are those of the authors alone and “should not be read as supported or endorsed by the panel”. Nor should they be read as “suggesting the direction the review is taking”. The groups commissioned to carry out the research were the private consultancy firms Deloitte Access Economics and the Allen Consulting Group; the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER); and a consortium of the Nous Group management consultancy, Melbourne University and Flinders University.

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aeu news | september 2011

No state has it right Deloitte was asked to assess existing funding models. It identified a set of effectiveness criteria and applied them to state/territory and federal funding schemes. It found no “best model” among them. The federal SES funding scheme, which supposedly allocates funding to all non-government schools using the socio-economic status of the districts where their students live, does this for only 60% of schools, Deloitte found. The rest “entirely negate” the model as they maintain their funding levels no matter what changes occur to their SES make-up. Deloitte’s research constructs what it terms “optimal funding model architecture”. There is little to quibble about with eight of the nine elements that make this up. But the ninth component, seems hardly “optimal” (and even less equitable). It states: “Optimal funding models incentivise private contributions [and] do not create barriers to the procurement of private funds.” This looks like a free ride for high-fee nongovernment schools. A single standard for all? The Allen Consulting Group’s brief was to examine the feasibility of a national schooling recurrent resource standard (NSRRS) to provide a framework for a new funding model. The proposed standard would apply to all schools — government and non-government — and replace the unfair and flawed Average Government School Recurrent Costs (AGSRC) measure that sees any spending on government schools lead to additional funding for non-government schools. The paper’s conclusion is that such a standard is feasible. It defines an NSRRS as: The level of resourcing per student

from all sources that, efficiently and effectively applied over time, would enable students attending schools serving communities with minimal levels of educational disadvantage the opportunity to meet agreed national educational outcomes. The NSRRS would have two rates: one for primary and the other for secondary schools. Loadings would be added to reflect the additional resources required to assist students with specific needs to achieve common national outcomes. The loadings would apply to student characteristics (Indigenous, low-SES background, non-English speaking background) and school characteristics (size, location — rural and remote). The standard leaves out disability because of a lack of nationally comparable data. It proposes that the standard be constructed using “the only consistent national data relating to schooling outcomes” — NAPLAN results — to identify “reference schools” (schools which have had 80% of their students above the national minimum standard for three years in a row). The NAPLAN outcomes for these schools would be validated by other data and by “applying professional judgement at

the school level”. The financial data on the My School website would then be used to estimate the NSRRS. Addressing disadvantage ACER was asked to evaluate existing programs for educationally disadvantaged students and suggest more effective alternatives. It found that there was insufficient data to clearly establish the effectiveness of existing programs in reducing the impact of educational disadvantage. The report makes two recommendations: one for non-government schools and the other mainly for government schools. It calls for a minimum funding standard for students with disabilities to apply as an entitlement across all Catholic and independent schools. It states that this additional funding should not “deplete existing funding for government schools”. Secondly, it proposes a targeted investment strategy for low-SES schools experiencing residualisation effects on their enrolment base. These schools would receive significant investment, above and beyond recurrent funding, for up to 10 years, to spend on areas such as quality teaching practices, materials, school leadership and facilities.


study

Successful – or just selective? The brief of the fourth research group, the Nous consortium, was broader and less technical than the others. It was asked to investigate the challenges and opportunities Australia faces over the next 20 years in improving educational outcomes for all students, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. The Nous report comes closest of the four reports to belling the private school cat. It highlights the differences between Australia’s school system and that of other countries: the unusually large private sector; its unique subsidisation of fee-charging,

autonomously-run independent schools with public money; the fiercely competitive schooling market; and the high degree of academic selectivity (schools that can attract highperforming students do so). The report found that subsidies to high-SES schools, scholarships, selective enrolment and “choice” for those who can afford it all work together to concentrate disadvantaged children in disadvantaged schools — which are largely “default” government schools. Research shows a strong correlation between the performance of a child and the average SES of students at his or her school. High-performing schools are “better” primarily because of the nature of their student population rather than anything the school itself is doing. The Nous report suggests that “well-resourced selective schools” that do not “value-add” should lose some or all of their public money. In addition, such schools should be pressured to take on more under-performing students and demonstrate they can raise student

achievement over and above their past performance. The funding review panel has asked for public responses to the four research reports by the end of the month. It then has until late December to lift its head above the parapet and deliver its recommendations to the Federal Government. Then it will be over to the politicians. What can we expect from them? So far it’s all about non-government schools. On the day the reports were released the Federal Opposition, through Christopher Pyne, told the media that the 600-plus pages of the four research reports had a single purpose: “To build a case for Labor to cut non-government school funding.” Minister Peter Garrett fired back his own mantra that no matter what the review recommends no non-government school will lose a single dollar. Then they battled about whether the money would be indexed from 2014 onwards. Government schools must hope they’re not still on the sidelines come December. ◆

In brief Research findings • Current system “lacks transparency” • Guaranteed funding for private schools “entirely negates” current system • Australia’s large private sector out of step with rest of world • National funding rate per student is “feasible”, with loading for high-need students

Some proposals • Minimum funding for disabled students • Extra cash for ­“residualised” schools with mainly low-SES students • Cut funding for well-off selective schools • Pressure selective schools to accept under-performing students

Download the research papers at tinyurl.com/3aunyoo.

simply the best We are pleased to announce that Victoria Teachers Credit Union has won yet another prestigious award – Financial Review Smart Investor Credit Union of the Year 2011. Winning the industry’s two most prestigious awards twice in one year reiterates our competitiveness on our range of products and services, encompassing banking, loans, insurance and financial planning. Becoming a customer is easy. Open an account online at www.victeach.com.au or over the phone on 1300 654 822. This information does not consider your objectives, financial situation or needs - consider the suitability of this information and refer to Terms and Conditions or Product Disclosure Statements before acquiring a product, available at our branches or call 1300 654 822.

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feature

The SCHOOls they forgot to BUILD

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ONEY has been set aside for only two new government schools in Melbourne’s western suburbs over the next four years despite massive population growth that is expected to continue well into the century. A crisis in the provision of public education looms as a result of the State Government’s failure to invest in new schools in the region, experts warn. Although the Education Department predicts a 33,704 increase in the number of primary-age children in the western region in the next 15 years, the State Coalition Government set aside only $4 million in its May budget to “support construction” of two new schools in the region — Point Cook South-East P–9 stage one and Tarneit Central P–9 stage one. Each will get $2m this financial year as part of $10m over four years. The number of secondary school-age children in the region is expected to increase by 23,000 over the next 15 years, according to department figures. Assuming primary school sizes of 500 students, this growth will require an extra 67 primaries in the region in the next 15 years. An extra 23 secondary colleges of 1000 students each will be needed. Forty state schools, 2.5% of the total number of Victorian government schools (1,539), will receive capital works funding during the Government’s four-year term. Most of these schools are in electorates held by Liberal or National Party members. photo: Angela Wylie, The Age Meredith Peace, AEU deputy president, said: “It is incredibly disappointing that the Baillieu Government reneged on its pre-election commitment to continue the Homes are being built for tens of thousands of families in former Labor government’s rebuilding and modernising So why isn’t the Government building schools for their chil of schools over the next four years. “Many school communities in Melbourne’s north and west, as in many areas across the state, have been let down by this government.” Wyndham is the third-fastest growing local government region in Australia. Taking in Werribee, Wyndham Vale, Tarneit, Hoppers Crossing, Truganina, Laverton and Point Cook, its population grew by 8.1% this population growth”. Truganina South will accommodate 2,500 new homes, in 2008–09. up to 7000 people and two new schools. Residential construction starts this Neighbouring Melton shire — which covers Caroline Springs, Taylors Hill, Hillside and Ravenhall — had population growth of 7.9% in 2008–09. It grows year but no money has been allocated for the government school. Although planners from the Education Department, local governments and by 41 babies a week and 8000 people a year. the Growth Areas Authority are working together to place new school sites on Melbourne’s urban growth “boundary” was extended by the Labor govern“precinct structure plans” for growth areas, the Government has not committed ment last year to include an extra 43,600 hectares of land. Melbourne’s money to buy many of the sites let alone build on them. population grew by more than 100,000 in the 2009–10 financial year, and Seven proposed schools feature on plans in Wyndham’s northern growth most of that growth occurred in Melbourne’s north and west. The Growth Areas Authority, set up in 2006 to expedite outer urban develop- areas, but only two are underway. And one of those, Tarneit 10–12 College, is being built with money committed by the former Labor government. ment, says 284,000 new dwellings, housing an extra 700,000 people, will be In Melton shire, 3,500 houses are going up at Taylors Hill and construction built in Melbourne’s newest suburbs over the next 20 years. of another 2,500 starts next year at Taylors Hill West. In July, announcing the release of 250 hectares for housing near Infrastructure planned for the area includes a P–9 government school, a Hoppers Crossing (an area known as Truganina South), Planning Minister Catholic primary school and an independent school. The precinct structure Matthew Guy said that about 90,000 people were moving to Victoria each plan predicts a young population with a lower than average median age (28) year and “this government is committed to doing all it can to accommodate

❛We are going to turn many of these new grow

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feature

Melbourne’s western suburbs. ldren? Sian Watkins reports.

wth areas into social and economic ghettoes.❜ and a high proportion of preschool age children. The plan says the government school will be required between 2014 and 2018 at a cost of $16m. The State Government is yet to buy the site. It is possible that developers may build schools or other public buildings in the areas they develop in lieu of paying the “Growth Area Infrastructure Contribution”. State member for Altona, the ALP’s Jill Hennessey, whose electorate office is in Point Cook, receives calls daily from frustrated, upset parents who cannot get their children into local schools, most of which are capped and full or close to full. She says class sizes in her electorate are already above the state average. Ms Hennessy, who runs a More Schools for the West campaign, says about half of the older children living in and around Point Cook are travelling long distances to secondary schools in places such as Geelong and Bacchus March. Parents, children, principals and teachers are bearing the cost of governments’ failure to meet “their fundamental obligation to provide Australian

children with access to a quality local public school”, she says. “I’m constantly ringing up the principal at Point Cook asking him if he can accept another student. It puts him under a lot of pressure trying to accommodate that demand.” She says about 64 babies are born weekly in the Wyndham region — and “that equates to about three classrooms a week. The investment in new schools is nowhere near meeting that. And the nightmare for many people starts with finding kinder places.” She says developers are building housing estates, not communities, and the estates “aren’t getting adequate public transport, early childhood services and schools. Women want to work a few days a week to help with mortgages but then they find there’s no childcare available. “There are legitimate concerns that we are going to turn many of these new growth areas into social and economic ghettoes,” Hennessy says. “Public transport is poor, people are spending two to three hours a day in traffic getting to and from work.” Baden Powell College principal Julie Mason says population growth has led to a zone and ceiling being imposed on the school’s Tarneit P–9 campus (1,180 students) and the school can no longer accept siblings of present students. Imposing and managing the ceiling “can be stressful”, she says, and the school has to accept students if it is their closest school. Although the school was getting good support from the region and managing the problem, this did not negate the seriousness of the issue and the immediate need for new schools, Ms Mason said. Keilor MP Natalie Hutchins (ALP) agrees that population growth is putting big pressure on existing schools, many of which already have 1,200-plus students, and many students are travelling long distances to schools. “For some, if they miss the bus straight after school, it’s a 45-minute wait until the next one.” A 2008 report prepared for several growth councils by Australian Social and Recreation Research, available on the Growth Areas Authority website, was critical of infrastructure planning in existing new suburbs, pointing to insufficient land having been set aside for public infrastructure to accommodate existing and future demand. It said that inadequate provision of sports grounds and centres meant local sports clubs had to find alternative sites to play and train, and “community hubs” such as Brookside at Caroline Springs, which includes a campus of Caroline Springs College, were well used but “overdeveloped, cramped and congested”. Caroline Springs College opened with 78 students 10 years ago. This figure has grown to 4000 P–12 students spread over four campuses. A planning source said that multi-agency planning for public infrastructure in growth areas had improved. Education Department planning for new schools was “very switched on; they know when they will need them and where they should go. But the money isn’t coming through to build them.” continued on page 18 ➠

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17


feature

Craigieburn Sunbury

Greenvale Melton

Bacchus Marsh

Broadmeadows

40km

Taylors Hill

CBD Truganina Tarneit P-9

Altona

Wyndham Vale

Werribee

Point Cook P-9

Urban growth boundary P-9

Proposed new schools map illustration by Peter Lambropoulos Map is for illustrative purposes only

continued from page 17 ➠ Melbourne’s northern growth areas, which include Whittlesea, Doreen, Wallan, and Mernda, also got little money in the May budget. This financial year, money is set aside to buy the land for a proposed senior school at Doreen; Hume Valley School gets $4m and the Northern School for Autism gets $3m. Meanwhile, the Mitchell shire is expected to add 40,000 people in the next five years and Whittlesea shire is expected to increase by 118,000 people in the next 20 years.  The AEU’s Meredith Peace says communities had been let down across the north and west. “They were expecting, or were actually planning their new school buildings, and have now been told everything is on hold. Our students, teachers and their school communities don’t need broken promises: they need state of the art, modern facilities to support high quality teaching and learning.” ◆

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aeu news | september 2011

The parents’ dilemma D

AVID and Amy Machell live in Hillside, in Melbourne’s north-west. Their son takes a 12-kilometre, crowded bus trip each weekday to Taylors Lakes Secondary College. If he misses the first bus after school it’s a 45-minute wait until the next one. Other secondary options are at Keilor Downs and Caroline Springs, but they are no closer. David and Amy are also in a dilemma about where to send their primary school-age daughter to high school. Apart from the long bus trip to Taylors Lakes, they don’t feel their daughter would cope well in such a big school. Taylors Lakes has 1,278 students; Keilor Downs has 1,282. David and Amy wish they could send their son and daughter to a quality, academic-oriented state high school that was well serviced by public transport and reasonably close to home.

Because their local options are limited they are considering sending their daughter to Bacchus Marsh Grammar, 30km away. But they’re in the process of starting a new business and the cost of private school fees is a worry. The Machells moved to Hillside in 1999. The family didn’t have a problem finding a primary school for their son although they didn’t attend the closest (Sydenham) “because it was huge — it had seven prep classes the year Ryan started”. Their daughter attends Hillside Primary School. It opened in 2000 with 70 students. It now has 800 students. “I don’t think the problem with primary schools is as bad,” says Amy. “A few new primaries opened since we’ve been here but they (the Government) haven’t kept up with the secondary schools.” ◆


profile

Northern soul A working class girl made good, South Morang principal Kerrie Heenan is helping young women teachers follow her into school leadership. Elisabeth Lopez meets her.

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ERRIE Heenan jokes that when she started teaching she was 6’ 4” but years of leadership reduced her to 5’ 2”: “The more time you spend there, the wider your bum gets, the wider your shoulders get.” Heenan, founding principal of The Lakes South Morang P–9 School, has for the past three years convened the Northern Metropolitan AEU Women’s Network, which supports members considering leadership positions. When she started teaching at a technical college in the 1980s she wore bib and brace overalls to work — a fashion crime that also led to her being hung on a wall by her male students. “They ran out of the room and climbed on ladders to see what I would do.” The assistant principal, roaring with laughter, rescued her with pliers. Heenan grew up in a part of Preston known as “little Chicago”, and her high school in East Reservoir didn’t offer Year 12. “Kids in that part of the world didn’t go to Year 12. And they weren’t ever going to go to uni. You just went to jail.” When she had her first child at 24, she thought she was set for a life of coffee, tennis and babies. But her daughter was born with an intellectual disability and was in and out of hospital. “Suddenly work looked pretty good. I became passionate about kids with special needs. When parents tell me ‘You don’t know what it’s like’, I can say to them that I do.” In 1993, Heenan took part in the Eleanor Davis School Leadership Program, now the main professional development program run for women by the Victorian Education Department. It allowed her to spend two weeks in another school with a female principal as a mentor. In 2001, she became principal of Fawkner Secondary College, then a small school with the bulk of students from Middle Eastern backgrounds and a third from welfare-dependent, AngloAustralian families. Most spoke English as a second,

sometimes third language. Heenan decided that it made no sense for them

show& tell The most important thing I take into the classroom is: My passion, my integrity and my belief that all students can and want to learn. The secret to coping with staff meetings is: Make sure those who attend take something of use away with them. Bribes and incentives work well. The best advice I ever received was: Put your student’s needs first, second and third and you will always win. Never compromise your professional integrity. The most important thing the AEU does for its members is: Provide a collective to champion public education. The most inspirational figures in my life are: My daughter Kristie who survived infancy and enjoys life; my son Marc who survived his sister and despite numerous hurdles is resilient and determined to make a difference in the world; and my partner Michael who just keeps us all grounded. In my other life, I am: A wife, a soul mate, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend and a bloody baseball scorer. The play that changed my life was: The Lake — an original musical written and performed by the amazingly talented staff and students of our school. Reaffirmed that if you set high expectations the outcomes are extraordinary. My favourite teacher at school was: Mr Ward — he challenged and extended the options to build a love of learning in Grade 5 at Preston East Primary.

to be learning French and Italian as well. “We were making them illiterate.” She changed the curriculum to emphasise literacy, eliminated textbooks, removed walls to create open spaces, and introduced team teaching and interactive whiteboards. In 2006 she moved to The Lakes to oversee the development of a new school. Staff numbers have increased from 15 on its opening to 100 today. “My leadership challenges here are still building capacity. Most of the staff here are younger than my children. Not that I think age has anything to do with being a good leader. But in their toolbox, they only have a hammer and chisel. They haven’t got a full socket set. So all of a sudden, a child or parent throws them a curve ball and they’re not sure what to do.” The barriers to women’s leadership progression are internal and external, she says. Women hesitate where men rush in. “Blokes will put their hand up and say, ‘I’m secretary of the motorcycle club’, as if it was a big deal. Women tend not to say ‘I was running the board of the kindergarten association’. They don’t appear to see that as a transferable skill.” Women also continue to be passed over by male leaders when choosing their leadership team. “They’ll say, ‘She hasn’t got any children now, but maybe she’ll have a family.’ How dare they?” In the women’s network, Heenan checks younger women’s applications for leadership positions and helps them establish where they are professionally, and identify skill gaps. “So, you’re fantastic with student management, but you’ve done no curriculum development. What opportunities can we find to round out your portfolio?” Heenan’s heart is in the northern suburbs. “Young people that live and teach in the north are up there with the best. And it’s people like me who had the opportunities that need to create opportunities for the next generation.” ◆

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feature

The art of insubordination Sometimes leadership means doing what’s right, not what you’re told to do. Sian Watkins reports from the AEU’s annual principals’ conference.

Mary Bluett addresses the principals conference

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EADING a school effectively amid a deluge of information and competing demands requires persistence, determination, democratic leadership — and discrete insubordination. This was a consistent theme at last month’s AEU Principals annual conference addressed by speakers including Monash University lecturer Waleed Aly and Canadian education academic Dr Ben Levin. The stimulating line-up of speakers also included former ballet dancer Li Cunxin and

former Labor finance minister Lindsay Tanner. The sharp, succinct ABC broadcaster Dr Norman Swan led a panel discussion on issues including “disruptive innovation” in education and the enduring tension in mass education between vocational training and liberal arts learning. Aly lamented the “over-institutionalisation” and corporatisation of education and the “battery-farm approach” to processing undergraduates. “I’m supervising postgraduate and masters students

who can’t formulate arguments and who misplace apostrophes. “When did we start talking about ‘outcomes’ in education? … My parents spoke to me about what I was learning, not key performance indicators.” Education consultant Stephanie Pryde rejected Aly’s concerns about homogenised education, saying teaching and learning could be, and was being, personalised, and student participation in learning improved.

AEU PREFERRED PROVIDERS PROTECTING WHAT MATTERS Retirement Victoria has provided AEU members with strategic financial advice for two decades. We are now able to offer comprehensive personal advice in another area critical to the welfare of AEU members and their families — risk insurance — including Income Protection, Death, Trauma, Disability and Business Insurance. Over time we have become increasingly aware that AEU members (and their children) are under insured or not insured at all against the risks that life can present. Most have not considered a thorough risk assessment leading to an appropriate level of insurance cover. Scott Plunkett is our dedicated Insurance Adviser with a wealth of experience and a personal style backed by technical excellence consistent with Retirement Victoria’s approach to financial planning. He can design a personal protection plan and recommend the most appropriate insurance policies that will maximise your financial and lifestyle security.

APPOINTMENTS WITH SCOTT To arrange a complimentary appointment for yourself, or for another family member telephone Retirement Victoria on (03) 9820 8088. Retirement Victoria Pty Ltd is an Authorised Corporate Representative of Millennium3 Financial Services Pty Ltd AFSL 244252

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aeu news | september 2011


Panelists L-R: Stephanie Pryde, Jenny Lewis, Paul Cochrane, Waleed Aly

feature

Dr Swan asked whether improving the education of disadvantaged students “was just about money”. Ms Pryde said more funding was necessary to redress inequity but Jenny Lewis, chief executive of the Australian Council for Educational Leaders, said improvements lay as much “with teaching in the classroom and staff, students and parents talking about how things can be done differently”. Paul Cochrane, a former trade union leader in New Zealand who now consults on planning and leadership development, said that leaders seeking improvements in their organisations needed to be “brave and prepared to make mistakes”. Ms Pryde agreed with an audience member that special schools, less bound by NAPLAN requirements and other forms of “outcomes-driven service delivery”, had much to offer mainstream schools in terms of innovative, personalised approaches to teaching and learning. There was consensus among panel members that school leaders needed to focus on doing the right thing (by students) rather than “doing the thing right”. Students’ and staff needs should take priority over the endless and increasing bureaucratic requirements imposed on school leaders. “Through a democratic leadership process, focus on getting the crap out of the way so teachers can get on with their jobs,” advised Ms Lewis. Further advice on respectful insubordination was delivered by Dr Levin (see right). AEU president Mary Bluett told the conference that the federal review of school funding led by David Gonski was a once-in-a-career opportunity to improve school funding. She was cautiously optimistic about “the real possibility that Gonski’s recommendations will benefit most kids in this nation”. The report is due to be delivered in December and tabled in Federal Parliament next March. Ms Bluett said she hoped to see it enacted by next May “before a federal election”. She said the State Coalition Government’s $481m of cuts to education funding and its decision to stop funding VCAL coordinators in schools next year (saving $12m) made her “very, very angry”. ◆

Know your teachers

Good leadership means knowing how to get the best out of your staff — and ignoring distractions.

D

R BEN Levin, professor in education leadership and policy at Toronto University, sat down, literally, to advise principals on ways to improve their students’ education and how to sort the managerial chaff from the wheat. Speaking via video link from a city under tornado threat, Dr Levin (pictured) said the challenge for school leaders was to produce better, more equitable outcomes for more students across a broader range of subjects. Principals had faced this challenge for decades, he said, but “expectations keep growing”. How to achieve it? Principals need to “know the research on what matters to improving student outcomes”. They need to be aware of daily teaching and learning practices in their schools; they need to be leading their staff’s learning about learning; and they need systems that ensure a consistent commitment to improvement. Principals have to set high expectations for staff and students because “almost everybody can be much better at nearly everything with the right motivation and support”. Much evidence suggested that it was unwise not to “let kids experience failure”. Staff, too, should have “no options to stay put”. For this to work, school environments needed to be collegial and supportive and “the tone for this is set by principals”. Discussions with staff should be frank and open, with feedback welcomed. Disagreement “needs to be legitimised”, Dr Levin said. “Do you (principals) get defensive, angry, or do you invite people to say more or explain why they think that way?” Persistently negative critics could be isolated but “don’t steamroll over people if there’s a lot of dissent”. Principals should hire “good people”, develop existing staff (“even when you have doubts about them”), and retain good staff by distributing leadership opportunities and offering good working conditions. “There is no satisfaction to being a great teacher in a lousy school.” Feedback is critical but it must “strictly be about performance and not the person. Don’t talk about good teachers, but good teaching. We don’t talk about good leaders, but good leadership skills.”

Principals with good leadership skills make effective use of time and staff, Dr Levin said. Teachers should be allocated according to their abilities, not their seniority or “what teachers want to teach”. “Are the needy kids getting the best teachers? Are good teachers spending too much time out of the classroom? “Consider class sizes. Why should they all be of a similar size? Consider bigger or small classes, depending on what is being taught and to whom it is being taught.” Dr Levin said principals should consider the balance between support staff numbers and teachers. “There has been a big increase in Canada in the hiring of education support staff but evidence suggests this has not been the most effective use of funding,” he said. Prioritise actions that are critical to students’ success and which can be done only by principals. “You must be ruthless about what you take on. Reduce or eliminate what is less important.” Principals complained they had no time to do what they really wanted to do, such as regularly visit classrooms. But if systems existed to ensure that school buses ran daily and staff were always paid, “set up a system to ensure you visit classrooms regularly”, Dr Levin said. “If you really care about some things you organise it so you do them.” Asked how principals should cope with information and regulatory overload, Dr Levin said they should be selective about what they chose to read and respond to. “Insubordination is too strong a word but if you are really focused on making a good school you should … regard it as a noise. Consider that there are some things I need to heed and some things I need to salute as they go by.” ◆

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21


international

Exchange rates Fancy teaching overseas? A government exchange program allows you to swap jobs and homes for a year. Cynthia Karena reports.

Damien Toussaint and Sage enjoying the Rockies.

D

AMIEN Toussaint was greeted by a freezing winter when he arrived in Canada as part of a Victorian teacher exchange program. “It was minus 20C, and it was minus 32C when we left. “Life in the snow was amazing. I was either shovelling it or using the snow blower.” Last year, Damien was part of the Victorian Education Department’s International Teaching Fellowship, an exchange program begun in 1975 that sees teachers swap positions and housing for a school year with teachers from other countries such as Canada, Denmark, Britain and the US. Teachers pay for airfares and living costs, but on the upside they have the opportunity to develop themselves professionally and personally by experiencing an overseas education system and culture. Damien, the director of learning and teaching at Rosehill Secondary College in Niddrie, went to rural Ontario with his pregnant wife Jane and their twoyear-old son Daniel. “We were constantly out of our comfort zone.” He was placed at Midland Secondary School in small town Penetanguishene, two hours north of Toronto. “We had a baby over there,” says Damien. “We had a great experience with the Ontario health system. People don’t have private health insurance because they don’t need to. Sage’s birth cost us $7 and that was for a phone call from the hospital.” The family took the opportunity to travel. “Driving through the Rockies was special. I also organised to meet six mates from Melbourne. We went to LA, Las Vegas and New York. It was great. “It was an expensive year and we absolutely flogged our credit card.” All exchange teachers are required to do a research project and Damien studied self-directed learning at the school. “A teacher adviser talks to

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aeu news | september 2011

students and develops a plan for how the student will spend the day, whether they attend classes or do independent study. “School structures in Victoria haven’t changed in 100 years. We’ve changed the curriculum but we still have bells.” So how do teachers deal with living in someone else’s home; how do they prepare their own home, and how do they navigate another country’s bureaucracy? The International Teachers Association (ITA) works with the Education Department to give advice and support to exchange teachers. “We give teachers an idea of what preparations to make, and we give them an idea of what their new school might be like,” says Sharon Smith, ITA vice-president and a PE and library teacher at Footscray North Primary School. The association is made up of volunteers who are former exchange teachers. It works with the department to run information sessions, help potential applicants and draw up shortlists for placements. It also runs social activities across Victoria. Chapter groups operate in Ballarat, Bendigo, Gippsland, Horsham and Wodonga. Sharon has been on exchange three times, to England, Canada and the US. “For me, it was about going to the UK by myself, doing it independently, without my support network of friends, family and colleagues. “But the day I had to change the wiper blades on the car in three degrees was the day I wondered, ‘Why am I here?’” She, too, was struck by the differences in systems; in the UK she worked to a national curriculum that was only just beginning to be discussed in Australia. In Canada she found a school with fewer

LINKS Teaching Fellowships (DEECD website) bit.ly/nUGNn5 International Teachers Association www.ita.vic.edu.au

meetings and greater teacher autonomy. “A teacher develops a program individually; there is no team aspect to teaching that we have here.” But whatever the system, she says, “the students are just the same!” The best advice she was given was not to worry about money. “People do come back with debt, but it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Even with the strong Australian dollar there’s still the cost of travelling and paying insurance and rego bills at home. “Be open to new experiences. At the briefings, we say, ‘Say yes to everything’ — to every invitation, to every event.” Unions provide reciprocal membership rights so teachers can receive advice from teacher unions overseas if needed. The ITA’s annual dinner, to be held this year on 25 November, is for outgoing teachers and overseas teachers returning home. This year it is also celebrating patron Lawrie Shears’ 90th birthday. Sharon encourages people from “the distant past”, whose records may be old or incomplete, to get in touch and attend. Teachers can apply for fellowships through the Victorian Department of Education. Applications for 2013 close on October 20. ◆


C

REDIT union mecu has become Australia’s first customer-owned bank, rebranding itself as bankmecu at a relaunch on September 1. The bank was founded as a credit union for teachers over 30 years ago, although it is now open to all. It has had a long association with the AEU: the union endorses candidates for the board, and mecu’s chair since 2005 is Peter Crocker, former president of one of the AEU’s predecessor unions, the TTUV. The move to bank status will allow it to offer a real alternative to the Big Four banks. By being owned by its customers, bankmecu says it will be accountable to savers and borrowers, not shareholders. “We exist to return profits back to our owners,” the bank said in a statement. Profits will be returned to customers through better interest rates, low fees and a “a responsible approach to banking”. Last year, it says, $31 million was returned to customers through lower fees and rates. The bank also provides a number of ethical and environmental products. Bankmecu has assets of more than $2.6 billion, and capital of $287 million, and as a credit union returned record profits last financial year. It invests over $200,000 per year into education through its community investment program. The bank has 17 service centres in Victoria out of 25 nationwide, servicing 135,000 customers. More at bankmecu.com.au. ◆ — Nic Barnard

VIT elections

Your AEU candidates A

EU branch councillors have endorsed four candidates for the upcoming elections to the Victorian Institute of Education. They are: • Allen McAuliffe (principal member) • Mick Butler (secondary) • Mary-Anne Pontikis (primary) • Louise Heggen (specialist school). The election takes place next term, with ballot papers issued on October 4 and voting closing on October 21. Support your AEU candidates and ensure your union has a voice on Victoria's professional registration body. ◆

Unionists sing it loud V

ICTORIA’S Trade Union Choir celebrates its 21st anniversary with a musical drama about the victories and struggles of the union movement, both personal and political. The show premieres at Trades Hall in Carlton on November 5 but the choir plans to take it to other audiences including students, as well as to the National Folk Festival. The choir is made up of 30 union members who believe in the power of song to unify workers and connect with the community. Find out more at home.vicnet.net.au/~vtuc/ or see see a performance online at vimeo.com/22421131. ◆

Women’s FOCUS

Erin Aulich deputy vice president, secondary

Looking ahead Equal Pay Day showed how much remains to be done in the fight for women’s equality.

W

E’VE celebrated some fantastic achievements this year — starting with the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. Next month our AEU federal women’s conference casts its eye towards the next 100 years, with the theme: “Another World is Possible, Another World is Necessary.” As our Equal Pay Day events on September 1 demonstrated, we have much still to fight for in Australia. Australian men earn, on average, 17.2% more than women. This makes September 1 a symbolic date — marking the number of days into the financial year that the average woman works for free compared with the average man. But 17.2% is only a national average. The gap opens up to more than 30% in some sectors. It’s not just an issue for women: the pay gap costs the Australian economy about $93 billion a year. Equal pay for women would raise family income, meaning more money to spend on food, housing and child care. The average superannuation payout to a woman is $150,000 — half of the average payout to a man in 2010-11. If things don't change, the average 25-year-old male will earn $2.4 million over the next 40 years, compared with $1.5m for the average female. This is a gender issue: a report released by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling at Canberra University last year found that simply being a woman accounted for 60% of the difference between men's and women's earnings. These are some of the reasons why we continue to fight for equal pay for our AEU members in adult disability services, and for community and social workers in the current national equal pay case. It’s important that we celebrate the past 100 years and how far we have come. However, it is equally, if not more important, to look ahead and work hard to achieve equality globally. The conference will discuss these issues and how we, as a union, can be involved in driving real change. The federal women’s conference will be held in South Melbourne on October 8–9. We’ll be reporting back in the next issue of AEU News.

Women’s training program Our program of professional development for AEU women members continues with our annual seminar on flexible work options on October 18. Aimed at principal class and teacher members, it will explain your rights to request part-time or flexible work. It will present case studies of how flexible working has worked successfully in a variety of schools. On October 26, “Red Deb” Ferguson will run an after-school workshop on conflict resolution and handling challenging behavior and difficult conversations in a positive way. You can find details of all our PD and training for women members at www.aeuvic.asn.au/women. ◆

www.aeuvic.asn.au

23

inside the AEU

Banking on change


inside the AEU

AEU Training & PD

2011

EVEN

Kim Daly and Rowena Matcott training officers

TS

CALE N

Making it local

DAR

What is a local agreement? And why do you need one? Our new course explains all.

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VERY AEU member in a school is covered by a statewide agreement negotiated with the state government. They are essential documents outlining our rights and entitlements, but they can often be “one-sizefits-all” in terms of how specific clauses are to be implemented. That’s where local agreements come in. Negotiated within the school, they document how these statewide clauses apply to your workplace. They build and clarify conditions, taking into account local circumstances. The first stage in creating a local agreement is about information — knowing the relevant statewide clause and how it is currently interpreted at your workplace. If the sub-branch is happy with the current interpretation then document this and present it to

the principal to be signed off as the agreed state of play. If after discussion with the sub-branch you realise things could be better, you may need to seek further help regarding strategies from your organiser — or you can agree on a sub-branch position and negotiate with the leadership. With planning for 2012 starting in earnest, it is vital that sub-branches — through your consultative committee — discuss class sizes, time fractions, organisation of programs of instruction, composition of selection panels and workforce plans. These discussions need to happen now, before the planning is too far down the track. Early next term, the AEU is running practical sessions on creating your own local agreement — see below for dates. Each will cover the relevant

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agreement clauses and how to interpret them at your school. Our aim is for you to leave with at least a partial document completed. Making local agreements is also covered in our two-day AEU Active course. More details of specific courses can be found at www.aeuvic.asn.au/active. We can also work with individual sub-branches to help them to create their own local agreement. ◆

AEU TRAINING CALENDAR TERM 4, 2011 All courses and conferences are full-day events unless indicated. Upcoming events can be found at www.aeuvic.asn.au/calendar.

Full details of all AEU training programs, conferences and events can be found at

WOMEN’S PROGRAM

AEU Active

Conflict resolution Oct 26, 4.30pm.........AEU Abbotsford

Two-day courses Oct 18–19 (special schools)............. ..................................AEU Abbotsford Oct 27–28.................AEU Abbotsford

Anna Stewart Memorial Project Oct 10–21.................AEU Abbotsford

Gippsland AEU/DEECD Women’s Network Nov 8, 4.30pm....................Gippsland Flexible Work Options Forum Oct 18, 4.30pm.........AEU Abbotsford Refresher courses Oct 11–13..................�������� Essendon Nov 9–11...........Deakin Uni-Burwood

GETTING A JOB

Refresher courses Oct 11–13...........................Essendon Nov 9–11.......................... Deakin Uni

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aeu news | september 2011

One day courses AEU Active for new and aspiring principals Nov 15.......................AEU Abbotsford New reps day Oct 25........................AEU Abbotsford Local agreements Oct 20 (primary and special settings) ..................................AEU Abbotsford Nov 4.........................AEU Abbotsford Nov 8..................................Sydenham Nov 10 (secondary)........................... ..................................AEU Abbotsford Nov 11..............................Dandenong

www.aeuvic.asn.au/training.

principals

Application Writing for Principal Positions Oct 18........................AEU Abbotsford Flexible Work Options Forum Oct 18, 4.30pm.........AEU Abbotsford Leadership & Managing in the Context of the VGSA Nov 15.......................AEU Abbotsford

EDUCATION SUPPORT

Twilight conference Conference 4pm­–6pm Dinner 6pm–8pm Oct 24.................................Pakenham ES Advocates Oct 17–Oct 21...........AEU Abbotsford

OTHER EVENTS

Casual Relief Teachers conference

NEW EDUCATORS

Conference Oct 7–8.....................AEU Abbotsford Young Member Activist Program Nov 28–Dec 2...........AEU Abbotsford Student Teachers Conference Sept 30.....................AEU Abbotsford

Oct 6..........................AEU Abbotsford Student Resource Package (member forum) Oct 13, 4.30pm.........AEU Abbotsford Early childhood validation training Nov 4, 2pm................AEU Abbotsford Disability workshop Nov 29, 1.30pm........AEU Abbotsford


inside the AEU

On the PHONES Membership Services Unit — 1800 013 379

Claiming workcover? Call us first Fiona Sawyer MSU officer

W

E GET many calls from members about the process for submitting workcover claims. The most important thing we can say is: call us before you fill out the form. Claiming can be straightforward if you have a physical workplace injury, but stress-related claims are anything but. The claim form is a legal document so you need to get it right. So ring us first! Schools: Long-service leave We often get the following questions from members about their long-service leave: “What are my rights?” and “what are my entitlements?” One teacher applied for four weeks’ long-service leave so she could take her child to school and pick her up when she starts prep next year. But her application was denied on the grounds that school policy was a minimum of 30 days. That school policy contravenes departmental policy and can and should be challenged at the Merit Protection Board.

Do you have an issue you’d like to see covered in

On the Phones?

Email aeunews@aeuvic.asn.au or call the MSU on (03) 9417 2822 or 1800 013 379.

Another member wanted to take long-service leave for 10 days to support her son during VCE exams. She was told she would have to take two weeks. Again, the member shouldn’t have to take more leave than she wants to. The DEECD human resources website says: “While no minimum period of long service leave applies, leave should not normally be granted for periods of less than one calendar week.” TAFE attendance time We are still getting calls about attendance time for TAFE teachers. You cannot be required to attend beyond 42 weeks. If a manager asks you to attend during a term break (regardless of how long for), that is regarded

as a week of attendance and you must be offered another week off during the year. Your attendance is part of your work plan and roster. Changes require two weeks’ notice. Your manager cannot ring you on the Monday of the first week of the term break and require you to attend on the following Thursday. This is a clear breach of the TAFE Agreement. An advice sheet on this — and many other common issues — can be found under Help and Advice in the members’ section of the AEU website at www.aeuvic.asn.au. Suspending your AEU membership When you take unpaid leave, you can request that we suspend your membership subscriptions while you are unpaid. This means that you are still an active member and can access all of the services of the union without needing to make payment. Email us at melbourne@aeuvic.asn.au with the details of your leave and we can take it from there. ◆

ESSSuper is proud to be an exclusive fund that’s not available to everyone†. It means we can focus on developing specialised products and services tailored to your needs both before and after retirement. We invite you to talk to us about how we can help you: Boost your super savings. Transition from full-time to part-time work and maintain your current income. Turn your super into a tax effective savings vehicle. With tips on how you can start to plan for retirement.

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Call 1300 655 476 to make a free appointment with one of our Member Education Consultants today. † Members include State Government employees who commenced employment prior to 1994. If you are not already an ESSSuper member you are not eligible to join. Issued by Emergency Services Superannuation Board (the Board) ABN 28 161 296 741, the Trustee of the Emergency Services Superannuation Scheme (ESSSuper) ABN 89 894 637 037. Before making a decision about an ESSSuper product or service please consider our Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) that is available at www.esssuper.com.au or by calling our Member Contact Centre on 1300 655 476.

Proudly serving our members

www.aeuvic.asn.au

25


New Educators NETWORK Erin Donaldson and Erin Horman

Good advice from old hands

Who better to tell the next generation of teachers what it’s really like than some of our newest professionals?

L

AST month the AEU invited two new primary teachers to pass on their experiences to the fourth-year education students at Melbourne University. Being former Melbourne students themselves, Erin Donaldson and Erin Horman were well received and presented their ideas in an ­entertaining way. Both are now in their second year of teaching. Here, they summarise their advice to new educators. Be open and enthusiastic BEING a graduate teacher is the most daunting yet exciting aspect of your career. As you make the transition

from placements to your own class of students, you’ll discover and learn about the profession and the type of teacher you want to be. Be open and willing to participate in everything! The most positive and enthusiastic teachers are those who aren’t afraid to go out on a limb with ideas and participate in extra things around the school. Don’t be afraid to ask questions; even the most experienced leading teachers were graduates once. Be prepared for challenging children, parents and colleagues. Your professionalism will go a long way in gaining the respect of all of these groups of people.

Finally, don’t forget to sit back and take it all in. You worked hard to get your position and these students are now yours. Enjoy it! — Erin Horman, Oatlands PS Don’t be afraid to ask Every day you will be faced with many new learning experiences as a firstyear teacher. There are people around you with a wide range of experience and knowledge who are able to share their wisdom with you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and make mistakes — by making mistakes you know how to improve and do it better next time. As a graduate teacher you will be

PD in the Pub “Assessment on the Go” is the title of our third round of PD in the Pub sessions this year. Glen Pearsall will offer practical tips and techniques for assessing students in the classroom in these after-school workshops in a bar near you. Glen will be visiting Berwick, Bendigo, Melbourne Trades Hall, Warrnambool and Caroline Springs between October 11 and 25. Come and have a drink on us! Details at www.aeuvic.asn.au/pub. confronted with many hurdles. When you are faced with a difficult situation don’t see it as hard, but rather see it as a challenge. Each one should be an opportunity to learn and grow as a teacher. — Erin Donaldson, Whittlesea PS

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aeu news | september 2011

BLACK


With few members and growing debts, a cloud hangs over the Australian Principals Federation.

inside the AEU

Safety MATTERS

Going, going…?

Carolyn Clancy vice president, primary

The old and the new

Brian Henderson branch secretary

Nowhere has the campaigning role of unions been more important than in the field of health and safety.

T

M

HE latest financial report of the Australian Principals Federation (APF) on the Fair Work Australia (FWA) website paints a picture of an organisation in crisis. The report reveals that the APF has only 885 financial members in Victoria, but the FWA noted that the APF had not complied with the regulations for compiling the operating report as it had failed to report on a full-time equivalent basis. The operating report says: “The increase in our membership base remains a challenge.” The AEU has by far the largest principal class membership in Victoria, a fact of which we are proud. Section 12 of the notes to the financial statements sets out the APF’s growing losses: “Attention should be drawn to the statement of changes in equity which indicates that the Federation incurred a net loss of $44,963 during the year ended 30 June 2010 and, as of that date, the Federation’s accumulated losses total $89,522. “Attention should also be drawn to the Statement of Cash Flows which shows a decrease in cash held of $59,602.” The significance is underlined by an independent auditor’s report appended to the document, prepared by chartered accountants Mark Costigan & Associates. In a section headed Material Uncertainty Regarding Continuation as a Going Concern, Costigan draws attention to the net and accumulated losses. He concludes: “These conditions indicate the existence of a material uncertainty which may cast significant doubt about the Federation’s ability to continue as a going concern.” On a related front, the AEU has sought special leave to appeal to the High Court in a further attempt to reverse the registration of the APF as a union. The AEU is attempting to overturn a decision of the full bench of the Federal Court. At a hearing in Melbourne on September 2, the High Court referred the AEU’s application to the full bench of the High Court because of the serious constitutional issues raised by the case. No date has been set for that hearing. ◆

ANY rights that we take for granted were fought for and won by unions — but none are of greater significance than those won in the area of occupational health and safety. OH&S laws have helped to reduce risk in the workplace, but one only has to read newspapers to find evidence that this is not enough. An awareness of OH&S has been with workers from the earliest of times — the first efforts in improving workplace safety were in response to the appalling injuries and workplace conditions of the Industrial Revolution. We are now about to enter a new phase with the introduction of national, harmonised safety laws from January 1, 2012; one set of laws and regulations replacing the nine OH&S regimes that existed in different states, territories and the Commonwealth. The list of rights and protections won by unions is extensive. They include the eight-hour day in 1856 after action by stonemasons in Melbourne, the first workers’ compensation systems in 1900, rest breaks, protective clothing and other rights won in the 1960s and 70s, and the recognition of RSI as an industrial injury in the 1990s and stress and bullying in the past decade. Today, workers have the right to a safe and healthy working environment, to know the hazards they are exposed to at work and the right to negotiate how they are dealt with. They have the right to determine who represents them on OH&S issues and to refuse unsafe work. No example more clearly demonstrates the significant role unions have played in OH&S than the story of asbestos in Australia. Unions campaigned for decades about the danger of asbestos and successfully secured long-term compensation for the victims of asbestos-related disease. Regrettably it continues to be an issue, particularly in schools and other education workplaces that still contain asbestos. The lobbying continues. New challenges come with new technology. Changes in the nature of work inevitably lead to changes in the nature of occupational diseases. There have been big rises in musculoskeletal disorders such as back, neck and shoulder pain, or RSI, partly because so many people spend so much working time sitting at a computer. The number of people suffering from mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, has also risen. Part of the increase is due to a greater awareness and willingness to report cases: but it is also likely to have been fuelled by changes to how we work, with many people feeling they have less control over their work or feeling less secure. Psychological or psychosocial hazards such as stress, workload, bullying, and challenging behaviours are an emerging issue for educators. Workcover claims in this area now account for 28% of all claims. Health and safety is as relevant and necessary today as it has ever been and unions have a significant role to play. For regulation to be effective there must be enforcement, and strong union workplaces hold employers accountable. We need to be ever vigilant to old and new challenges and unionists need to continue to exert pressure and exercise their rights to ensure that workplace safety keeps improving. ◆

This column is edited from a speech delivered to the AEU Education Support Conference. Carolyn Clancy leads on OH&S issues for the AEU.

www.aeuvic.asn.au

27


classifieds

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AIREYS INLET BEACH HOUSE Two bedroom beach house available for summer and off-season. Summer rental: $980 per week / $140 any additional nights • Suitable for four tenants (neg) • 2 bedrooms: one with Queen size bed; 2nd with two single beds, fold-out bed available • Large living/kitchen area • Half a block from ocean and cliff walk • Close to shops, lighthouse, river, inlet. Low season rental: March to November 2011: $600 off peak per week, or $140 per night (Min 2 nights). Contact Kate: kateherbert@netspace.net.au or 03 9486 2222.

CENTRAL VIETNAM Comfortable accommodation at new farmstay retreat in stunning rural setting at the edge of UNESCO World Heritage Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. Adventure tours run by Australian host. Website : www.phong-nha-cave.com Email: phongnhafarmstay@gmail.com

AIREY’S INLET HOLIDAY RENTAL Holiday rental, 3 bdrms, 2 living, large decks, 1 acre garden, bbq, woodfire. Phone 0416 234 808, (03) 4208 0668. AIREY’S INLET SATIS BEACH HOUSE Stylish and comfortable 3 bdrm house for six on the beach side of Great Ocean Road. Paddle our canoe on the inlet, walk to the lighthouse, cliff walk and beaches. Phone (03) 5380 8228 or email melrose@gjr.net.au. Website: www.satisbeachhouse.com BRIGHT Autumn Affair Cottages Beautifully presented 1 and 2 bedroom cottages an easy 5 minute stroll into township. Adjacent to the ‘Mountain to Murray Bike Track’. All amenities included. Visit www.brightautumnaffair.com.au Holiday Rental: Cairns Rainforest retreat 10mins from CBD. Modern spacious two story Queenslander. 3 bedroom 2 bathroom. Extensive deck overlooking rainforest and mountains. Weekly rental. More details phone 0419 891 090. email:ssshepherd@ southernphone.com.au. HOLIDAY HOUSE PHILLIP ISLAND, VENTNOR Two bedroom sleeps 6, available weekends and holidays. Jane (03) 9387 9397 or 0431 471 611 or Louise (03) 9343 6030 or 0413 040 237. LORNE COTTAGE Sleeps 4, panoramic views, 5 mins beach and shops. Available December and January. Phone (03) 9387 4329. WILSONS PROMONTORY Promclose Cottage. www.promclose.com 0418 125 412.

28

aeu news | september 2011

driveEUROPE Peugeot Citroen Renault 2011 European specials out NOW Our 37th year of service to the European traveller. Email: enquiries@ driveeurope.org (02) 9437 4900 FRANCE Five cottages for rent. Provence, Dordogne, Burgundy, Ile de France. Only $1175 pw. Contact maxtens@gmail.com www.stayinafrenchcottage.com FRANCE — LANGUEDOC Two renovated stone houses in tranquil village near Carcassone, sleep four or eight, from $600 a week. See website at www.frenchrentalhouses. bigpondhosting.com; or phone (02) 4757 1019; 0414 968 397; email marjen1946@hotmail.com FRANCE — PROVENCE Restored 17th-century house in mediaeval fortified village of Entrevaux. Spectacular location, close to Côte d’Azur and Italy. Contact owners (03) 5258 2798 or (02) 9948 2980. www.provencehousestay.com. FRANCE — SOUTH WEST Renov 17thC 2 bdrm apart in elegant Figeac, “centreville”, or cottage in Lauzerte, 12thC hilltop village. Low cost. www.flickr.com/photos/cler montfigeac/ or www.flickr.com/photos/ les-chouettes/ Ph teacher owner (03) 9877 7513 or email jimmcdon@ tpg.com.au for brochure.

ITALY — FLORENCE Beautiful fully furnished apartment in historic centre. Sleeps 2-6, $1,700 pw, telephone 0419 025 996 or www.convivioapartment.com. ITALY — UMBRIA Apartment. Beautiful sunny 2 bdrm. Historic Centre Citta Di Castello €625pw 2p, €675 3-4p. 0414 562 659 darylhely@gmail.com ROME Studio apartment, Piazza Bologna, beautifully appointed, sleeps 2, opens onto garden courtyard, $1100 pw, telephone 0419 488 865 or www.ninoapartmentrome.com. SOUTH OF FRANCE — LANGUEDOC Two charming newly renovated traditional stone houses with outside terraces. Sleeps 4 or 6. Market town, capital of Minervois, wine growing region, close to lake, Canal Midi, Mediterranean beaches, historic towns. From $460 per week. Visit, Web: www.languedocgites.com Email: info@languedocgites.com. SOUTH OF FRANCE Lovely village house in the "heart of a wine growing region." www.myfrenchhome.com.au. Julie 0403 314 928 VITA ITALIAN TOURS Grand Tour of Italy for Teachers 28/12/2011 – 14/1/2012 Join us on our annual personally guided tour of Italy designed especially for you to enjoy a well deserved holiday without concerns where to stay, eat or how to get around. The tour includes extended stays in Rome, Sorrento, Florence, Venice and visits to Perugia, Assisi, Urbino, Siena, Republic of San Marino and much more. Our all inclusive price allows you to relax and enjoy your experience. Call Mario or Viny for a complete itinerary on (03) 9460 7373 www.vitaitaliantours.com.au

Research into child abuse — your help needed

T

eachers who have reported (or considered reporting) suspected child abuse are sought for a study at Deakin University, Burwood. Researcher Louise Laskey is investigating teachers’ experiences of learning about and being involved in child protection responsibilities. Participants will undergo a 45-minute audiotaped interview. To protect confidentiality, they will be asked about only general aspects of events, and p­ seudonyms will be used for all participants, pupils, and schools. Any identifying details will be held separate from any data collected. Incidents must have occurred since 1994, when laws obliging teachers to report came in. To take part, email louise.laskey@deakin.edu.au. ◆

NOTICES Employment Assistance Expertly written Selection Criteria & Resumés for all job applications. Ph: 0415 440 134 Email: source@iprimus.com.au (MPS) MELBOURNE PROPERTY SOLUTIONS Mark Thompson (former teacher and AEU member) — Licensed Estate Agent, Melbourne Property Solutions. Buyer and Vendor Advocate Services. Phone 0409 958 720 email: mark@mpsadvocates.com.au website: www.mpsadvocates.com.au Ring or email for a brochure to be posted. Practical Guide for Casual Relief Teachers in Victorian Primary Schools Detailed advice, comprehensive guide and everyday tips for teachers new to the role as a CRT. Go to website for more details: www.vjsales.com.au $24.95 includes postage. RETIREMENT VICTORIA Visit us at www.retirevic.com.au. RETIRING SOON? Volunteers for Isolated Students’ Education recruits retired teachers to assist families with their Distance Education Program. Travel and accommodation provided in return for six weeks teaching. Register at www.vise.org.au or George Murdoch (03) 9017 5439 Ken Weeks (03) 9876 2680. SUPPORT FOR YOUNG TEACHERS, RELIEF TEACHERS AND ADMINSTRATION Practical advice for all classroom situations. Go to realteachingsolutions.com.

TAXATION TAX RETURNS FROM $75 Teachers Special Offer Most refunds in 14 days. With over 20 years experience we ensure all maximum refunds by claiming all allowable deductions and tax offsets. Business tax returns for sole traders, partnership, company and trust also available. After hours and Saturday appointments available. Contact M Georgy (03) 9467 7842 TAX CLAIM FOR TEACHERS A tax claims check list for teachers is provided free of charge by Teachers Taxation Services Pty Ltd. For a copy email info@teacherstax. biz or telephone (07) 3821 1879. VISAS IMMIGRATION For the professional advice you need — contact Ray Brown. Phone (03) 5792 4056 or 0409 169 147. Email raybrown888@bigpond.com. Migration Agents Registration No. 0213358.


culture

WINE

Talking Paddy Kendler

Paradise at a price

E

very now and again one encounters a wine that knocks one’s shoes and socks off. Such a wine is the Paradise IV Chardonnay 2010, made in the Moorabool Valley near Geelong. I’ve been watching this wine since it was a baby in barrels — only six barrels and only one of them new French oak — and since blending and bottling it has blossomed into one of the very best chardonnays in the country. While rich and voluptuous, it’s by no means overblown, and holds balancing acidity to match the gorgeous ripe fruit flavour. It’s not cheap (about $50 in independent wine shops and some Vintage Cellars outlets) but for special occasions or presents, nothing could be finer. At the other end of the price and prestige spectrum is De Bortolli’s Verdelho two-litre cask ($10). In the same range, the chardonnay and cabernet merlot are top value but do try the verdelho as a soft, ripe-fruited option. Come to think of it, I prefer it to the chardy for casual everyday quaffing. Also consider these genuine bargains: Primo Estate La Biondina Colombard 2011 ($15): Absolutely delightful, bursting with fresh and lively passionfruit and citrus aromas and flavours. Make a point of searching out this current vintage, not older ones. Shaw & Smith Sauvignon Blanc 2011 ($23–$25): Over 15 years, the S&S from the Adelaide Hills has been our leading sauv blanc and the latest release continues the fine form of previous vintages. Turkey Flat Rose 2011 ($18): A refreshing fruit-salad blend of grenache, shiraz, cabernet and dolcetto, ideally suited to spring and summer. For availability, email info@turkeyflat.com.au. D’Arenberg The Footbolt Shiraz 2008 ($15–$19): One of the red bargains of the year so far, a sweet and savoury McLaren Vale shiraz from one of Australia’s leading family wineries. Jim Barry “The Cover Drive” Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 ($20): A truly gorgeous Coonawarra cabernet featuring typical juicy blackcurrant flavour laced with alluring traces of sweet spice, oak and cedar. jbwines@jimbarry.com. ◆

Orange is for lemons T

eachers on yard duty are almost impossible to see. Camouflaged and crawling stealth-like across ovals, leaping from scrubby undergrowth and abseiling out of trees, we aim to surprise our targets and leave them standing with their cigarettes smouldering, open mouthed. This is why I am struggling to understand why our school has recently issued FLUORESCENT ORANGE vests to all staff to be worn on yard duty. I write FLUORESCENT ORANGE in capital letters to remind readers what a visual affront this colour is and how it STANDS OUT. “I’m so glad that all my years of university education have finally delivered my greatest desire,” spits Fiona, dragging the offending article out of her pigeonhole. “Now I can moonlight as a traffic controller during free periods.” “XXL? You’ve got to be kidding me,” squawks Michelle, the tiny PE teacher who could invite two guests to share her vest, it is so ridiculously large. “All staff are to wear their vests when out on yard duty. This will make them highly visible in the yard and will easily identify staff members to students,” says Greg the principal. Due to teachers being significantly older and not in school uniform, I thought that most students had figured out how to differentiate them from other students. Leaving our office for the first yard duty experience in the vest causes students to recoil. “Miss! I need sunglasses on just to look at you!” “Why do you need that?” “Are you a lollipop lady, Miss?” “That is so primary school.” Students can certainly spy us across long distances, leaving them many minutes to make a dash for it before authority swoops to stop the game of British bulldog brewing on the oval between a bunch of Year 8 boys. The surprise

factor is gone. We are so conspicuous, I start to wonder if we can be seen from the air. Our vests lack a whistle and self-inflating device, but are supposed to benefit our Occupational Health and Safety. I know I have regularly collided with my colleagues in corridors and in the yard as I just can’t seem to see them. Some of us start wearing them at our desks, just for extra visibility. Office collisions are down 67%. You can never be too safe. Vest-wearing compliance starts to dwindle after a week. People head out for yard duty with the vest stuffed in a pocket, holding it or, better still, leaving it draped provocatively over the back of their office chair. After all, trying to make a bunch of teachers conform is about as likely as getting Year 9s to form an orderly line to await their immunisations. The principal team model the vests in their wanderings around the school, as if the more we see the vests worn, the more likely we are to accept them. I THINK NOT. ◆ As well as being a Melbourne comedian and teacher, Christina Adams is an occasional ninja.

www.aeuvic.asn.au

29


culture

Return

of an Indian classic The story of two teachers’ work in a remote Indian village is back in print after 40 years. Allan and Wendy Scarfe today and, inset, with their daughter Vidya in the early 1960s

Sian Watkins AEU News

the 1950s, Wendy and Allan had originally considered LLAN and Wendy Scarfe’s doing aid work in moving and vivid account of Sumatra. But, given their three years’ teaching and their membership aid work in an Indian village in of the university’s the 1960s has been reprinted. Labour Club and A Mouthful of Petals: The the pervasive anti-Communist political fears of the story of an Indian village, first published by William time, the pair were labelled “undesirable Australian Heinemann in London in 1967, is a unique, secular citizens” by the Menzies government and told they Western insight into Indian village life. It spurred would get no diplomatic protection in Indonesia. Oxfam London to run an aid program in the village They went to England instead, where they and was used by Community Aid Abroad Melbourne befriended a wealthy Indian who paid their passage as a primer for intending aid workers. on a luxurious Italian liner to India. They were given As students who met at Melbourne University in letters of introduction to various people, including Jayaprakash Narayan, a leader in India’s independence movement who helped found the Indian Socialist Party. Allan and Wendy had six months in India before Donations can be made through returning, thin and malnourUnion Aid Abroad-APHEDA to assist ished, to Australia. Allan victims of the famine in the Horn of Africa worked at Brighton High and Wendy at McKinnon High. Donations will be directed to our partner on the ground They returned to India in

A

East Africa Famine Appeal

- the German Workers’ Samaritan Federation - who are working to provide food, water and healthcare assistance.

If you wish to donate, please call 1800 888 674 or email office@apheda.org.au Women and children wait for food in Djibouti. Image: REUTERS/Feisal Omar

Donations to this appeal over $2 are tax-deductible

Union Aid Abroad APHEDA

The overseas humanitarian aid agency of the ACTU

30

aeu news | september 2011

1960, having been asked by Narayan to set up a school at his ashram in the poor, remote village of Sokhodeora in Bihar, and to help improve teaching standards. “We said we’d go back for three years on the condition that we each be paid $20 a month,” says Wendy. “Unfortunately, it was paid most irregularly.” Monsoon rains destroyed the school building and the couple had to write the syllabuses, find teachers and train them. Villagers were apathetic, resistant to change and chronically malnourished. Allan and Wendy had two young children and they taught in Hindi, which they learned “by suffering”, says Allan. The book was named after local children’s habit of eating hibiscus flowers from Allan and Wendy’s garden as they walked to school hungry. Although India now has one of the world’s fastest growing economies, the World Bank says some 410 million people — 37% of India’s population — live below the poverty line, making the country home to one-third of the world’s poor. Wendy and Allan raised four children and taught at Warrnambool High School for 20 years, retiring from teaching in the early 1990s. They have written “lots of books” since — 26 in total, including 12 co-authored non-fiction titles. ◆ A Mouthful of Petals: The story of an Indian village, $24.95 from seaviewpress.com.au or call 08 8356 7313.

YOU ARE WHAT YOU SPEAK Robert Lane Greene Black Inc. $24.95, 336pp

W

HAT a fascinating, frustrating, snippy book this is. Robert Lane Greene, a multilingual American and correspondent with The Economist, subtitles his book “Grammar grouches, language laws and the power of words”, but the grouches seem mostly in his head. You Are What You Speak is stuffed

with insights into the development of language and the way we use it, crossing centuries and continents to explore its endless ability to mutate and adapt. Why then set up so many Aunt Sallies to knock against in a pointless argument against so-called sticklers and grouches? When Greene resorts to painting Lynne Truss of Eats Shoots and Leaves fame as an unhinged rage-filled Nazi, you know he’s in trouble. It’s a pity; much of this book is good enough to stand on its own.◆ — NB

REVIEW BY NIC BARNARD

photo: Vicky Hughson, The Warrnambool Standard


AEU News is giving members the opportunity to win a variety of Australian resources for their school libraries from our good friends at Allen & Unwin, Harper Collins, Ford Street Publishing and Madman. To enter, simply email us at giveaways@aeuvic.asn.au by 10am Tuesday, October 18, 2011. Include your name and school or workplace. Write “Win Teaching Resources” in the subject line. Prizes will be sent directly to the winner’s school or workplace with a special inscription recognising the winner. Good luck!

Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy Meet the great Skulduggery Pleasant: wise-cracking detective, powerful magician, master of dirty tricks and burglary (in the name of the greater good, of course). Oh yeah — and dead. Then there’s his sidekick Stephanie, a 12-year-old girl. Stephanie’s uncle Gordon is a writer of horror fiction. But when he dies and leaves her his estate, Stephanie learns that while he may have written horror, it certainly wasn’t fiction.  Harper Collins RRP $14.99 The Maximus Black Files — Mole Hunt by Paul Collins In a galaxy of cut-throat companies, shadowy clans and a million agendas, spy agency RIM barely wields enough control to keep order. Maximus Black is RIM’s star cadet. But he has a problem. One of RIM’s best agents, Anneke Longshadow, knows there’s a mole in the organisation. And Maximus has a lot to hide.  Ford Street Publishing RRP $19.95

The Tall Man and the Twelve Babies by Tom Niland Champion and Kilmeny Niland, illustrated by Deborah Niland It’s a family affair! This gorgeous book by the Niland family is great fun — adorable, kooky and strikingly illustrated... the perfect combination for kids! Allen & Unwin RRP $24.99

Harriet the Spy: Blog Wars starring Jennifer Stone Fame is fleeting. The Internet is forever. Young spy Harriet Welsch crosses paths with popular student Marion Hawthorne as the two girls vie to become the official blogger of their high school class. When it looks like Marion might take the lead, Harriet becomes desperate to figure out a way to get the most blog hits. Madman DVD rated G, RRP $19.95

Congratulations to our winners from AEU News issue 5 2011: It’s Bedtime, William! — Maria Etheridge, East Gippsland Specialist School; Gamers’ Challenge — Lynn Lawton, North Fitzroy Primary School; Careful What You Wish For — Celina Brown, Warrnambool College & Janice Vanselow, Koonung Secondary College; The Ballet Russes — Craig Homberg, Terang College.

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AEU News Issue 6 2011