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victorian branch

AEU NEWS v o l u m e 17 I i s s u e 8 I d e c e m b e r 2 011

It doesn’t


Why short-term funding is not a long-term solution

TAFE crisis deepens | Contract blues | Inside a Chicago school AEU

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

AEU Victorian Branch Branch president: Mary Bluett Branch secretary: Brian Henderson

AEU VIC head office 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 email

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



Your weekly Wednesday wrap

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


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

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: 2

aeu news | december 2011

Contents cover story

It doesn’t add up


If the Gonski Review needed any more evidence that investment produces results, the Smarter Schools national partnership has it in spades.



COVER: istockphotos

Contract blues

An AEU survey has found that job insecurity continues to be a leading cause of stress for new teachers.

Shovels out

14 20 22

When you’re in a hole, keep digging — that’s the conclusion of yet another Spring Street-commissioned analysis of TAFE’s funding woes.

The Chicago school of economics A public school set up by unions and business is helping give students the skills to revive America’s rust belt.

Capital ideas

An economist’s view of the schools workforce reduces teachers to human capital — but at least recognises they’re underpaid.


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


editorial enquiries Nic Barnard tel (03) 9418 4841 fax (03) 9415 8975 email

advertising enquiries Lyn Baird tel (03) 9418 4879 fax (03) 9415 8975 email

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.

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president’s report

Our students are not a burden A year of broken promises and cuts proves that Ted Baillieu has abandoned our students and sees public education as nothing more than a safety net.


ED Baillieu’s first year in governlosses, while dodgy private providers non-government schools. Baillieu Government would support a ment has been marked by broken advertise “free” qualifications to It was the only government to system that encourages parents to election promises and cuts. students who don’t realise they’re support the current SES formula — exit the public school system. His election platform included risking their one chance at funded even though its lack of integrity has promises to make Victorian teachers training. been widely recognised by governVictorian members deliver the highest paid in Australia, complete Now we learn that reading recovery ments of all shades (and even by Against that background, our National Labor’s school building program, wind programs are being wound back most of the national non-government Day of Action for fair funding on back the flawed Skills Policy in TAFE across the state, reducing support for school lobby groups). November 15 took on even greater and fully fund the outcome of the children who are already falling behind Opposing any reduction for nonimportance — and you duly delivered. equal pay case for disability members. in their first years of school. government schools, the submission AEU federal president Angelo In government, Baillieu has not said it could lead to rising fees, and Gavrielatos has thanked members for only reneged on every one of these Your students: a “burden” result in some parents withdrawing their support on the day. Over 15,000 policies but has terminated several Nationally, the federal funding review their children from non-government people took part in the action, with key programs and announced $481 provided both an opportunity and schools. Victoria topping the nation. Almost half million in cuts to the education budget. a challenge to change the current “ForPREFERRED every 1% of students moving the messages came from this state. AEU PROVIDERS The cuts have targeted many of unjust, flawed funding system and from non-government schools to the In this and in all your work, the our most vulnerable students. Literacy, ensure increased resources for government system, Victorians would AEU congratulates all members on numeracy and Ultranet coaches as government school students. be required to spend an additional your commitment to ensuring the well as 45 Koorie support positions Interim reports gave rise to $17.6m each year.” best outcome for our students and were the first to go. cautious optimism that the panel was The logic of this position is that adult disability clients. Your efforts in Then came the $48m cut to VCAL focusing on equity. If this principle students in public schools are a the face of the lack of government coordination, forcing schools to underpins the panel’s recommendaburden on the taxpayer and any support are an inspiration. either reduce the program, increase tions to the Gillard Government (due increase in student numbers should We wish you a happy, safe and class sizes or pull funds from other this month) public schools will be the be opposed because of its impact on restful break. ◆ programs. major beneficiaries. the budget bottom line. Level 3/432 St Kilda 3004 October’s $200m cut toRoad, TAFEMelbourne and But the Baillieu Government’s This is an outrageous position for a Victoria provider of financial and retirement planning services to members. VET Visit provision higher fees, submission to Retirement the review wasis the AEU’s preferred state government directly responsible uswillatmean Retirement Victoria Pty Ltd is an authorised representative of Millennium3 Financial Services Pty Lts AFSL 244252 course cuts and hundreds of job gobsmacking in its bias towards for public schools to take. It seems the AEU Vic branch president


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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 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: February 1, 2012.

Hang tough for a better deal I

’M PEGGING out from teaching after 28 years, the last 20 mainly at Reservoir District SC (High School) where I have been privileged to have served on the AEU sub-branch executive as president. We’ve seen some tough times, seen off some brutal state governments, some apparently benign ones which didn’t offer much better conditions and now we face the new boy who appears to be doing by stealth what the previous bully boy simply stated up front. From what I hear, negotiations for the new agreement are proceeding about as well as we Contract disgrace I AM an experienced teacher and early this year I picked up a contract working as a classroom teacher in a local state school. The initial contract was for six months and I was told in my annual review meeting that my job would be re-advertised for 12 months. Despite putting in long hours, achieving excellent results, building a good rapport with the parents and getting positive feedback from the principal, I was told they wouldn’t be able to promise me a job for 2012. I was advised to begin looking for work for next year, which I fortunately found quite quickly in the private school system. My job was then re-advertised for four months instead of the promised 12 and I was reappointed until the end of this year. The school is now advertising my position to graduates only. I am really disappointed with the way I’ve been treated. How widespread is this type of problem for contract workers? It’s a disgrace.  — Name and address supplied Asbestos — we can I ATTENDED a DEECD session on asbestos last term and came away not much wiser beyond realising that, as a school, all responsibility lay with us but not much support, financial or otherwise, was forthcoming. I attended the AEU asbestos forum


aeu news | december 2011

might have expected. Which is to say, outrageous demands are still being made of teachers to make “productivity” savings if we wish to receive more than the 2.5% pittance offered. This is ridiculous and insulting. We produce. Students produce. But neither of us is a “product”. No matter how efficient you are, there are still 60 minutes in an hour and we still need bodies in classrooms. Moreover, any divisive offers on differential pay rates for allegedly “whizz-bangier” teachers should be flatly rejected by all members and negotiators. As teacher members we are collaborators

on November 23 in the hope that I would learn more and I certainly did. The information and case studies from such a diverse group were excellent and, although it is still apparent that there isn’t much in the way of financial support available, I felt far more knowledgeable about the vexed subject of asbestos in public and private buildings. Among the many strong points was Geoff Fary telling us about the National Asbestos Review, which will hopefully assist governments and the rest of us to deal with the removal and disposal of this horrible product. Here’s hoping that removing asbestos from all premises gains support and the political will to act despite the costs (which will still be much less than the cost in suffering, loss of life and cost to the health system). — Mindi Bakopanos, HSR Burwood Heights PS Vale Ian Aitken AEU members will be saddened to hear of the recent passing of Ian Aitken. Ian began his distinguished teaching career at Bendigo Teachers’ College some 50 years ago. In time, Ian became VP at Rye Primary School and then Eastbourne PS and was a respected and popular member of local school communities. Ian was an active member of the AEU, a strong supporter of public

— learning collaborators and fraternal industrial collaborators but let’s be sure we don’t treacherously turn on our own. Hang tough for common conditions in all government schools (hours/class sizes/same pay for same jobs). As I step down, I want to thank our organiser Mark Hopper for years of pronto supportive electronic advice and for his constructive and informative guest presentations at branch meetings. Keep the faith.  — Bill Wootton  Reservoir District SC

Don’t be a doormat AS AN ES of many years standing, working at Croydon Secondary where ES are treated with respect, I was disheartened that the AEU didn’t reply to the distressing letter last issue (“Thanks for nothing”, Letters, AEU News November). I would have expected the AEU to advise (1) Is there an AEU rep at the school who is aware of the non-celebration of ES and does this school have a consultative committee, with an AEU/ Team? What team? ES rep who should have put this matter TEAMWORK between teachers and on the agenda well before ES month so education support is supported in preparations could be organised such our school, but without recognias morning tea, breakfast, chocolates, tion it becomes demoralising and plus any other matters pertaining to unmotivational. ES staff. (2) Although overstretched, Without any recognition during ES perhaps Kathryn Lewis, the AEU ES Month, we (the ES team) thought that organiser, needs to visit this school to perhaps we would be recognised with help build morale. teachers on World Teachers Day, but By the tone of the letter, ES at that much to our disgust there was nothing school have given up. They need to for the ES team. start instigating procedures with the While teachers enjoyed a lunch principal or, if not confident, consult provided by the school, the ES team the AEU rep. were offered nothing. I congratulate the ES member for Where would teachers be without our raising this issue. Some ES colleagues daily support with students and other do not assert themselves and are random jobs? Yes, stress levels could treated like doormats. Until they increase and performance could suffer. realise that procedures exist to remedy We love our jobs but without formal poor treatment, nothing will change. recognition on these poignant days it — Dawn Jones is difficult to see teamwork at its best. Croydon Secondary College — Disillusioned ES team member Noble Park

education and an advocate of quality schooling for all children. He will be remembered for his kindness to others, his care of students in need and his determination in building public schooling. Even in the later years of retirement, Ian was involved in the care and welfare of local people. A great friend to all teachers and students.  — Roger Spaull Rosebud West



Coalition’s anniversary marked by axed reading support and unsafe school’s closure.

Nic Barnard AEU News


EU councillors have delivered a damning verdict on Ted Baillieu’s first year in power, as cuts to Reading Recovery programs and the closure of a Werribee school highlighted the damage done by Coalition policies. Students at Galvin Park Secondary College were sent home after storms caused major flooding, capping a year of broken boilers and dangerous mould infestations. And the axing of Reading Recovery tutors in two regions again gave the lie to Coalition pledges that education cuts would not hit front line services. Both came in the week that Victorian Education Minister Martin Dixon outlined his “vision” for schools — a vision light on concrete plans and heavy on platitudes and support for non-government schools. AEU branch council on December 2 unanimously condemned the Baillieu Government for a year of cuts and broken promises. Branch president Mary Bluett said: “The Baillieu Government has wasted its first year in office, savagely cut support for our most vulnerable and disadvantaged students and broken its few promises when it could have been building a world class education system for all.”

In his speech, Dixon called himself “the minister for all Victorian students — in government, Catholic and independent schools” and praised the “sacrifices” that private school parents made for a “high quality education”. He urged schools to forge closer ties to their communities and

local businesses — drawing a furious response from Bluett. “He seems to think government schools have been sitting in the dark ages, doing nothing. These links are well established. “It’s taken him 12 months to come up with this ‘vision’ and now he’s going to consult for another 12

months. And there’s not one extra dollar for any of it.” In another resolution, councillors called for the introduction of the national curriculum to be delayed until 2014, with schools given two pupilfree days and further time release to prepare for the changes. ◆

Unsafe school “must close”


SECONDARY college dangerously infested with damp, mould, faulty wiring and broken boilers must be razed and rebuilt, the AEU says. Year 7, 8 and 9 students at Galvin Park Secondary College in Werribee were sent home after heavy downpours exacerbated problems that had already seen three buildings declared unsafe, including music, science and technical facilities. Years of flooding and constant water leaks through light fittings and internal downpipes have led to rising damp and mould, rotting walls and faulty wiring. The school’s students were already rotating days off and attending classes at a nearby school after a roof in the science wing collapsed. Air monitoring revealed that some rooms contain mould well above safe

levels. At least two teachers have had extended periods of illness. Flooding in the science wing left canisters of chemicals sitting in three inches of water, and teachers reported getting shocks just from standing near power sockets. “These are some of the worst conditions I have seen in a government school,” AEU president Mary Bluett said on a visit to the school. “They are unsafe to learn or work in. “Now the students are being farmed out to other schools which is interrupting their learning and disrupting their lives. These kids need certainty, not shunting around.” Bluett was moved to hear that one student had asked: “How much does it cost to go to a school like this?” after a day at another state school.

Galvin Park SC

Architects have spent several weeks assessing the buildings but profound structural problems and years of neglect mean that band-aid measures amount to “throwing good money after bad,” Bluett said. “This is beyond patching up,” she said. “The school should be razed to the ground and a completely new school built. These students, this community and these teachers and educators deserve nothing less.” ◆ — Rachel Power AEU News

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TAFE hit by hundreds of job losses Funding cuts spark redundancies as private providers cash in on the open market. Nic Barnard AEU News


UNDREDS of TAFE teachers are to lose their jobs as a result of government cuts caused by the Skills Reform fiasco. As AEU News went to press, 180 full-time equivalent redundancies had been announced by eight institutes, with 70 jobs going at Box Hill Institute alone. But the Government looks set to strengthen the open market in VET, after a report from the Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission recommended privatising the entire TAFE system. With 10 institutes yet to announce their intentions the final figure for redundancies is certain to exceed 200 — and institute managers say they will have to review their budgets

again in Term 1, when final enrolment figures for 2012 are known. Greg Barclay, AEU deputy vice president for TAFE, said: “We can expect more redundancies in February.” While the AEU is keeping a close eye on announcements to ensure that redundancies are genuine, and staff are not re-employed as casual teachers, union and management agree the funding cuts are to blame. “This is the inevitable result of the open slather caused by the skills reform and Peter Hall’s decision to slash TAFE funding to make up for it. TAFE is paying the price for the private sector’s greed and excess,” Barclay said. Skills Minister Hall cut $250 million from VET funding in October, after a $400m blowout in spending caused by

Unions: There for you faces of the campaign is AEU teacher member Kate Aitken. We are highly trained ­professionals, respected by the community. Victorians rely on the services we provide, and expect us to be there for them. Yet the State Government is ICTORIAN public sector unions cutting $2.2 billion from public services, including $481m from have launched There For You, a joint campaign to protect and education, while making pay offers enhance the state’s public services. that leave us worse off. The AEU has been involved in Visit the campaign site, therefoits development along with unions, watch the video, and covering nurses, fire fighters, child most importantly send a message protection and disability workers, of support for our public services paramedics, scientists and hundreds — and ask your colleagues, friends of other professions. Among the and family to do the same. ◆



aeu news | december 2011

the reforms. Enrolments rocketed by 44% after public funding was opened up to private providers and caps lifted on student numbers, with huge increases in courses such as fitness instruction, real estate, hospitality and tourism. TAFEs have struggled to compete with dodgy providers offering cut-price or even free qualifications in a handful of days — as a case raised in parliament has highlighted (see below). In a sign of the agony that TAFE teachers are enduring, a group of long-serving “concerned education professionals” at GippsTAFE have published an open, anonymous letter flagging “the demise of standards” at

the institute. “There is currently a crisis of confidence at GippsTAFE with a lot of good staff … hanging on by their fingernails as standards are forced down and teaching departments threatened.” They say fees have tripled, course hours have fallen and teachers have to plead for basic teaching resources. “GippsTAFE has transformed from a public provider of quality education to a corporate provider only to those that can return a profit.” ◆ Warning on casualisation: page 10; VCEC report analysis: page 12.

Cash cow for private trainers Nic Barnard AEU News


TRAINING “rip-off” has highlighted how dodgy VET providers can tap hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars while students lose their only chance at government-funded training. “Workplace-based” provider Vocational Training Group (VTG) offered $1,500 incentives to sports clubs to run a “free” Certificate IV course, with $1000 going to the club and $500 to the students on completion. The course would take just 15 hours to complete. A similar course at a TAFE institute would typically take about 350 hours. With government funding at $5000 a place, VTG would clear over $100,000 for every 30 students it recruited. Skills minister Peter Hall told parliament on November 24: “There is no doubt in my mind that this [VTG course] is a rip-off of the public purse.” Payments to the firm had now been suspended, he said. AEU TAFE deputy vice president Greg Barclay said: “How many more providers are out there doing the same thing? “Many of these students will not realise that if they fall for this offer, they will have to pay full fees if they later want to take a real Cert IV course or apprenticeship at TAFE.” ◆


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lose your voice! It’s always important to inform your union of any changes to your details — it can affect your rates, and it means our communications will reach you. But with a possible ballot for industrial action in Term 1 next year, it’s crucial your details are up to date. Agreement negotiations are continuing in good faith, and the AEU hopes to achieve a good outcome. But if that does not come to pass, a ballot for action may be required.

If our records don’t match the Education Department’s exactly, you will not be able to vote.

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Great ideas at the grassroots

Students joined teachers to share their stories of matching local actions to big ideas at this year’s green schools conference.

Rachel Power AEU News


T IS a shame Barack Obama and Julia Gillard couldn’t swing by the AEU/IEU Green Schools Conference as they made their national tour last month. Both would have learned something from the inventive ways schools are tackling the issue of climate change. The accent was on the positive in workshops presented by students and educators, who all emphasised the importance of hope, empowerment and local action when confronting an issue of the magnitude of global warming. This year’s proceedings again opened with a spurring address from climate scientist Professor Dave Griggs, who presented the scale of the challenge in light of the latest research on global climate change. Griggs detailed the likely fallout from a temperature rise of three degrees, which despite devastating results — such as the extinction of up to 40% of animal species by 2050 — was “an optimistic scenario”, he said. He used to present the pessimistic scenario “but that scared people too much”. “When people say climate scientists are just exaggerating to keep themselves in business, I tell them our predictions have actually been very conservative indeed,” Griggs said. “Everything we [humans] have is

underpinned by biodiversity.” Education speaker Amy CutterMacKenzie emphasised the importance of children’s connection with nature, concerned that climate science risks disenfranchising rather than empowering young people. “Environmental education in the Australian context has never been so active at any other time in history,” she said. “But the phrase ‘environmental education’ has no presence in the national curriculum.

“One maths teacher had the year from hell — boys literally tearing the walls down,” she said. “So he took them outside and they built an adobe oven. Behaviour was transformed overnight.” Westernport students Dayna and Kitlyn told how their class was inspired to collect and rescue mobile phones following a sleepover at Melbourne Zoo where they learned about the threat to gorilla populations caused by mining for coltan, a key substance in phone circuit boards. And a group of the VCAL students has been working with special needs students from feeder primary schools, rendering hay bales and the frames of old couches to create outdoor furniture. A maths class created a giant outdoor chess board, with tiered seating built by VET students. Hannah Lewis and students from Westernport SC at the conference “That’s what happens when you take kids out and give them “Children, teachers, educators applied things to do,” said Lewis. are writing the guidelines on climate “Those kids are now teaching other change education. It’s happening on a kids. Their sense of self-worth flourgrassroots level.” ished in this environment and that built Four schools got the chance to bridges into mainstream education.” illustrate that grassroots activity. Peer-to-peer education was also Westernport Secondary College a theme of “Life After NAPLAN”, teacher Hannah Lewis explained how by the Prime Minister’s Young an outdoor classroom and hands-on Environmentalist of the Year, Arron environmental education proved a way Wood. “It’s not just about environof dealing with challenging students. mental understanding, but making



HE Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission is conducting a survey on the experiences of students with disability in schools. The commission wants to learn “what is working well and not so well when it comes to ensuring students with disability to … get the best possible education.” The AEU encourages members to participate. The survey takes 10–15 minutes and does not ask for any personal or identifying information. Go to www.humanrightscommission.


aeu news | december 2011



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Amy Cutter-MacKenzie

sure kids are articulate and confident enough to take those ideas into the community,” he said. “Education beyond literacy and numeracy will make the difference between whether we sink or swim on climate change — pun intended.” In other workshops, Eltham Primary School students and sustainability coordinator Jo Harwood illustrated their five-star sustainable school, and the success of its “kids teaching kids” program. Marilyn Snider from the Global Education Project endorsed introducing younger students to sustainability through picture books, while Melbourne Museum’s Priscilla Gaff presented an online tool that enables schools to survey their local biodiversity. Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency Mark Dreyfus congratulated the AEU and IEU for focusing a conference on the “big environmental questions”, saying school-based initiatives led to greater public awareness. ◆

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WESLEY’S property splash While some public schools struggle to build new toilets, taxpayer-funded Wesley College is planning an 84-unit apartment and office block.


ESLEY College’s attempted $40 million foray into residential property development lends weight to the argument that federal funding to private schools should be redirected to far needier government schools. Canberra gave the college $28.8m between 2007–10, and a further $2.6m in BER funding towards a new sports complex at its Glen Waverley campus. The State Government gave Wesley $6.4m over the same period, making a total of $37.8m in public money. The school also generated $16.1m in “other” non-fee income. Monash City Council last month rejected the school’s application to build a $40m apartment block on the eastern corner of the Glen Waverley campus. Wesley had proposed a four-storey building containing 84 two-bedroom flats (with 101 parking spaces) and a separate office and underground car park. The school is also believed to have paid about $16m for a 5,385 squaremetre site with residential potential abutting its Prahran campus. Its website says that a “state-of-the-art, four-storey” music school will be built at its St Kilda Road site and the Menzies Wing and Adamson Hall will be “completely refurbished at a cost of approximately $30m”.

Building audit ‘wasteful’ Sian Watkins AEU News


HE State Government is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to audit the condition of school buildings — information that principals could provide promptly and at no cost. Ballarat Secondary College principal Paul Rose said that a private asset management company, McDuling


IANA Santaera took a circuitous route to teaching via arts and social work degrees and retail jobs. After getting a second year of teaching under her belt she decided she had the available “headspace” this year to be the school’s AEU rep. She’s done a bonzer job by revitalising the sub-branch and keeping members well informed on union issues, says AEU organiser MaryLouise Chapman who nominates her as rep of the month. The school’s new principal lets

Nominate your REP!

Young, was to begin a three-to-four day audit of the school’s three campuses in mid-November but the school already had a detailed list of safety and maintenance problems that needed fixing. “What needs fixing? The roofs that leak, leaning walls, the external laminated beams that we constantly have problems with, the blocked toilets …” he said.

Diana raise union-related matters at staff briefings and she has created a union blog on the Ultranet. “I put minutes on it, agendas and issues coming up at the consultative committee,” she says. “It keeps people up to date and lets them have a conversation that others can follow.” She and others handed pro-public school pamphlets out to families on the National Day of Action, which, the Government will be pleased to read, were paid for with sub-branch money.

The Glen Waverley proposal was rejected on grounds including its effect on local traffic, its design, size and “poor regard for neighbourhood amenity”. Monash Council said the school should produce a master plan for the Glen Waverley campus, particularly the vacant three-hectare site adjoining the proposed development. Councillor Geoff Lake said he hoped that Wesley would “return to its core business of educating students” and not appeal to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal. He said that Wesley acquired the Rose Avenue site from VicRoads in 1996 for $2m — “the equivalent price then of a couple of vacant house blocks”. “Victorian taxpayers never intended to subsidise Wesley’s private profit seeking. That land was given away to Wesley for the clear purpose of it meeting its educational objectives.” He said the school had not once discussed its plans with the local community. “Council and the entire Glen Waverley community stand united and the ball is now in Wesley’s court as to whether significant ratepayer funds and precious school fees will be wasted on Wesley’s property development frolic.” ◆ “I don’t need an audit; I need to see the money to fix the school.” The Government announced in early November that it would use money from its $100m school maintenance fund to run the audit, to enable it to prioritise maintenance spending. An Education Department spokesperson would not reveal the cost of the audit. He said it was the subject of a competitive tendering process and the department was confident that value for money was achieved. The Government says the annual

She says one of the biggest unionrelated issues at school is achieving fair outcomes for all staff especially education support staff. Diana, a Grade 3/4 teacher who joined the union as a student, is also a new appointee to the AEU branch council. She put her hand up because she wanted to strengthen her skills as a rep and because she believes in strong healthy relationships between school leaders and staff. And yes, she is very, very much looking forward to the holidays. ◆

$100m fund means it will spend $28m more a year over four years than Labor spent on school maintenance. But the Baillieu Government has massively reduced spending on new schools and rebuilding existing ones, allocating $208m for school capital projects over four years, close to a 50% cut on Labor’s commitment in 2010–11 alone. The AEU’s State Of Our Schools survey this year found that maintenance issues were the most pressing problem for 72% of principals. ◆

Diana Santaera Bentleigh West PS

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Casual teaching ‘undermines TAFE’ Quality of VET teaching compromised, says Federal Government’s skills advisor. Sian Watkins AEU News


HE dominant use of casual jobs in the VET sector and inflexible, regulation-bound recruitment processes are compromising the quality of VET training, the head of Skills Australia has warned. Current recruitment practices, driven largely by a decline in VET funding, were not the way to entice potentially good teachers with up-todate industry experience into the sector, Robin Shreeve said. Mr Shreeve told a Melbourne conference on VET and social inclusion that between 1964–75, 68% of teachers joining TAFEs were hired in ongoing positions. In the past 20 years this figure had fallen to 23%, a phenomenon linked to declining government VET funding. Funding fell from $12,000 to $9,500 per student between 1997 and 2009, Mr Shreeve said. “This hasn’t happened in the higher education and schools sectors.” High-performing workplaces valued staff training and recruiting the best people, but the VET sector failed to recognise the strategic importance of human resource management, he said. Casual teaching positions should not be the dominant route into TAFE. Skills Australia advises the Federal Government on Australia’s workforce skills needs.

Mr Shreeve told the Centre for the Economics of Education and Training (CEET) conference that quality assurance in VET (generally based on completion rates and student and employer satisfaction surveys) was insufficient. Quality of training was a problem across the sector and not confined to private providers, Mr Shreeve said. “Funding may have fallen because we are not transparent about our outcomes in the VET sector,” he said.

In its Skills for Prosperity report released earlier this year, Skills Australia said teaching and assessment practices of VET providers needed more external scrutiny. “Although there is much good practice, there have been also some very public examples of provider failure, especially in the international student market.” The report called for mandatory “external validation of trainers’ assessments” and said that “public provider



NADVERTENT drilling of asbestos at Geelong High School in the September holidays reinforced the need for phased removal of asbestos from government schools, an AEU asbestos forum was told last month. Justin Harris (pictured), a Geelong High teacher and its health and safety representative, said the incident highlighted the dangers of continuing to try to contain, not remove, the deadly material. Drilling of a wall containing asbestos by tradesmen was the second such incident at the school in the past three years. The school, through the Education Department, was fined $10,000 and ordered to pay costs of $3,500 in 2009 for failing to ensure that a tradesman was aware of the presence of asbestos in the canteen ceiling. Although the school subsequently improved its management of asbestos, the recent incident highlighted continuing inadequacies. WorkSafe has not prosecuted the school a second

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aeu news | december 2011

TAFE plays a unique role in many communities and this should be recognised with guaranteed base funding”. Skills Australia has urged the Federal Government to increase VET funding by 3% a year (an extra $310m a year) over the next 12 years to train many of the 2.4m extra workers it says Australia will need. It supports “full contestability” for public funding to government and private-sector VET providers. ◆

time because no significant risk was detected and the school and department subsequently complied with provisional improvement notices Justin Harris issued by Harris. They agreed to improve their supervision of contractors, replace mastic in the school hall’s external brick joints and replace walls and ceiling in the maintenance workshop. Harris told the forum that managing asbestos in schools was complicated and time-consuming. Schools did not have the money to remove it, the department had not done enough to educate principals about managing it, and both parties were nervous about identifying its presence. The AEU seeks the phased removal of asbestos from schools given its prevalence, the deterioration of buildings and their vulnerability to damage. Every Victorian government school must have an asbestos management plan and a coordinator r­ esponsible for inducting contractors. ◆

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Preschool minister washes her hands With major reform looming, Wendy Lovell says she can do nothing to relieve the work overload that is driving staff away. TASMANIA SCHOOLS say they will lose at least 27% of their discretionary spending as a result of government funding cuts, according to an AEU survey of principals. Larger classes will be among the impacts of the cuts, with principals typically expecting to see at least two more students in each class. Teacher aides for students with high needs, art, music and drama teaching and school maintenance were all likely to be affected, along with Reading Recovery and other literacy and numeracy programs, school libraries and phys ed classes. The union said funding cuts, coupled with increasing expectations of improvements in literacy and numeracy, would mean many schools focusing on students close to benchmark levels at the expense of special needs and high achieving children. NEW SOUTH WALES A REAL-terms cut in wages proposed by the NSW Coalition Government was overwhelmingly rejected at Teachers Federation stopwork meetings across the state on November 2. With teaching shortages looming as baby boomers retire, NSWTF president Bob Lipscombe said: “No parent will thank the O’Farrell Government if it succeeds in making teaching such an unattractive proposition that it becomes impossible to ensure a properly qualified teacher in front of their child’s class.” QUEENSLAND The Teachers’ Union has welcomed state government plans for local decision-making to strengthen school communities. QTU president Steve Ryan said it was recognition that principals were “highly skilled education professionals”. He said the discussion paper avoided “many of the populist but ill-conceived ‘local autonomy’ notions that would treat principals as business managers.” ◆

Sian Watkins AEU News


EU attempts to discuss serious problems of excessive workloads and looming staff shortages in preschools have been dismissed by the State Government as “enterprise bargaining issues”. The AEU’s Shayne Quinn and Martel Menz met the Minister for Early Childhood Development, Wendy Lovell, two weeks ago to discuss the alarming findings of the union’s 2011 workload survey of early childhood members. It found that many did not expect to stay long in the sector given increasing workloads and lengthening unpaid overtime. Victoria needs to attract hundreds of new teachers to meet the increasing demand for preschool education, driven by population growth and the 2013 Commonwealth deadline for “universal access” — providing all four-year-olds with 15 hours of preschool delivered by a qualified teacher. Ms Quinn said it was “extremely disappointing” that Ms Lovell chose to view the workload problem as merely “a matter for the EBA process”, while her suggestion that many of those who planned to leave were resistant to change was “disheartening”. “If our great teachers and assistants are to be kept in the sector this

will have to change. We will need to build pressure on the minister to address these critical issues,” Ms Quinn said. “Unless the Government recognises the real need to attract and retain staff, the reform agenda will flounder.” The COAG early childhood reform agenda has seen the sector in a state of constant change and generated the workload dilemma. The latest changes come into effect on January 1, with new national laws and regulations and the assessment and rating of services. Many of the changes cover staff/ child ratios, quality assurance and reporting standards. The changes will be overseen by the new Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority. “Staff sorely need the time to get together and work through these changes if governments are going to get the sort of quality returns they are seeking,” Ms Quinn said. With universal access arriving just a year later, services face yet further challenges to recruitment and infrastructure. Many preschool providers say that a shortage of teachers and space may force them to scrap programs for three-year-olds next year to accommodate the universal provision.

The Municipal Association of Victoria estimates that $602m is required for additional buildings, particularly in growth corridors. Tension exists between Canberra and Spring Street about Victoria’s capacity to meet the 2013 deadline, with Federal Minister Peter Garrett admonishing Ms Lovell for pessimism and calling on the state to get on with the job. ◆

What do you want? EARLY childhood members are urged to contribute to the formation of their next work agreement. The two main agreements in the sector expire in around 12 months. The union is now preparing a log of claims — listing desired wages and conditions — to present to Kindergarten Parents Victoria and the Municipal Association of Victoria as a first step in negotiations for their successors. The agreements are the benchmark for the union’s negotiations with other employers on EC wages and conditions. Members are encouraged to contribute at meetings in their region, sending their ideas using an online template or joining the AEU early childhood council. Details at

Historic deal leaves Baillieu isolated J

ULIA Gillard has forced the spotlight onto Victoria’s Coalition Government in the fight for fair pay for adult disability instructors, with a pledge to meet the outcome of the equal pay case for community and social workers before Fair Work Australia. The Federal Government has set aside $2 billion for pay rises and made a joint submission with unions proposing new award rates that would close the pay gap between government and non-government services.

But most AEU members in the adult disability sector work for services funded by the state government, which is threatening service cuts if the Fair Work outcome exceeds the $50m a year it has budgeted. The likely cost is expected to be three times as much. A final decision from Fair Work Australia is now expected early next year. To add to the pressure on Premier Ted Baillieu, go to and

send your own call for a fair outcome for our lowest-paid colleagues. ◆



Contract BLUES

Job insecurity continues to be a leading cause of stress for new teachers, an AEU survey has found. Nic Barnard reports.


EVEN out of 10 new teachers on contract feel that job insecurity is affecting their teaching — and fewer than half see the profession as a long-term career. An AEU survey of more than 1000 teachers in their first five years found that 58% were employed on a fixed term contract, with three quarters of those on a contract of a year or less. Of those on contract, 70.3% agreed that “the requirement to reapply for positions has a negative effect on my teaching”. But workload was the most important issue for new teachers, the survey found, followed by support for teachers, lack of time and student behaviour. In all, 1,075 graduate teachers responded to the AEU survey. Of those, 37% were in their first two years of teaching and 88% had been teaching for three years or less. Almost half had entered teaching from another career. On average, respondents had been employed on at least one contract. But 78% said they had not requested to be translated to an ongoing position. “The stress I feel because of the lack of security I experience being on a fixed contract and then the

A life on contract

’M DISAPPOINTED in the system. I’m unable to get an ongoing job, or even be eligible for translation as my employment is terminated at the end of each year. “I can’t commit to a car loan, never mind a mortgage, as I don’t know if I will have a job in January. In fact this year, I was working casually until my school offered me a contract in May. “At least in another industry job security is more likely. Right now I think working a secure job for minimum wage is preferable to working in education, and going from contract to contract with periods of unemployment in between.

aeu news | december 2011


here’s no job security, [the] only jobs available are contracts and then you feel like you are on a year-long interview. [You] also feel very pressured to take on extra jobs whilst on contract. “We have been told that only those stepping up for extra things will have a chance at jobs at the school for next year. As a consequence I have too many responsibilities, doing more than most experienced staff and am unable to focus on my teaching.



stress of having to reapply for my position at the end of each period is enormous,” one respondent said. Nearly all respondents (97%) had spent their own money on classroom equipment or other student or school needs, spending on average $412.28 this year. Worryingly, only 48% of new teachers saw themselves still working in a government school in 10 years. “The work is too hard and the hours are too long for the money that we get and I'd like to pursue a job in education that pays more,” one wrote. Another said: “I can't commit to a car loan, never mind a mortgage, as I don't know if I will have a job in January.” Others cited the outside duties, parent interviews and planning meetings. “[It’s] too exhausting — too much extra curriculum and extra things to do. I predict I will be burnt out,” one wrote. Increasing expectations were another burden in a political environment where education was constantly in the spotlight and new initiatives were rolled out.

“Teaching is only going to become more complex, with more and more demands and responsibilities piled on,” one teacher said. “I'm finding I'm doing a lot of parenting.” Another wrote: “There is too much to deal with emotionally, physically and there's always that fear of being seen as incompetent when you ask for help, support or advice. One cannot focus on learning and teaching because they are burdened with other responsibilities.” And another said: “If I did not enjoy working with the students so much, I would have already left to work in another industry where I am more appreciated and paid appropriately or have less stress.” The impact of low pay was underlined by the Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission’s report last month. It said low pay served to diminish “the attractiveness of teaching as a career choice, discourage the most talented graduates from entering teaching, and make it more difficult to retain high-quality experienced teachers''. ◆

Secure jobs, better future


NIONS have launched a campaign against insecure work — and are asking workers affected to tell their story. The ACTU’s Secure Jobs, Better Future campaign has commissioned an independent inquiry to report on the impact of the explosion of contract and casual work in the Australian workforce. The AEU will be making a submission, highlighting the impact of contracts and CRT work on teachers and the huge reliance on casual employment in TAFE. Find out more and tell your story at ◆


So what is the government doing? Peter Hall promised action on contracts when he came to office. Twelve months later little seems to have changed, Sian Watkins says.


TATE primary and secondary schools are now posting next year’s teaching vacancies on Recruitment Online. On November 23, almost 600 positions in Victoria were listed for teachers and leading teachers. Only 94 — fewer than one in six — were ongoing positions. Five out of every six jobs advertised were for a fixed-term contract, mostly for one year or less. In June 1996, 7.9% of Victorian teachers were employed on contracts. The figure has been between 15% and 18% since June 2007. The AEU accepts that some fixed-term work is necessary to cover illness or people on leave but a contract rate much lower than 18% would accommodate this. “There is excessive and inappropriate use of contracts and fixed-term positions,” says AEU deputy vicepresident James Rankin, who monitors

teacher recruitment. At the start of this year Teaching Minister Peter Hall vowed to reduce the number of teachers on shortterm contracts, saying employment uncertainty made life difficult for them personally and financially. “I think 18% is high, and I will be certainly looking at ways to reduce that,'” he told The Age. Mr Hall said in January that the Education Department could “offer financial support to schools” that hire teachers in permanent positions but which subsequently experience unexpected declines in enrolments. And he told AEU News that month that he had made it clear to officials that the issue was a priority. But, since then the Government has done little to address the problem and did not respond to questions from AEU News. Short-term contracts can be

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used to replace a teacher who is on 12 months’ or less leave or on family leave, with the contract worker entitled to an ongoing position in the job if the teacher does not return. Fixed-term contracts are also used by schools with declining enrolments or when teachers are seconded to other roles. Contracts now being advertised on the grounds of “potential excess” would suggest that enrolments are declining at most Victorian schools. Yet department statistics released in July show that enrolments in Victorian government schools rose by 3,134 students in the past four years. The state’s primary school age population is projected to increase by 60,000 in the next 10 years

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“Mina Mina Dreaming” “Mina Mina Jukurrpa” by Geraldine Napangardi Granites Artist’s statement: The country associated with this Jukurrpa is Mina Mina, a place far to the west of Yuendumu. The Jukurrpa story tells of the journey of a group of women of all ages who travelled to the east gathering food, collecting ‘ngalyipi’ (snake vine) and performing ceremonies as they travelled. The women began their journey at Mina Mina where ‘karlangu’ (digging sticks) emerged from the ground. Taking these implements the women travelled east creating Janyinki and other sites. Their journey took them far to the east beyond the boundaries of Warlpiri country. About Warlukurlangu: Established in 1985, the Warlukurlangu Artists’ Aboriginal Corporation is a fully Aboriginal owned and governed art centre located at Yuendumu, 300 km northwest of Alice Springs. All proceeds go to

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Artist’s statement: This particular site of the Yankirri Jukurrpa, or Emu Dreaming) is at Ngarlikurlangu, north of Yuendumu. Emus (‘Yankirri’) are usually represented by their ‘wirliya’ (footprints), arrow-like shapes that show them walking around Ngarlikurlangu eating ‘yakajirri’ (bush raisin). In the Dreaming there was a fight at Ngarlikiurlangu between a ‘Yankirri’ ancestor and ‘Wardilyka’ (Australian bustard) ancestors over sharing the ‘yakajirri’. About Warlukurlangu: Established in 1985, the Warlukurlangu Artists’ Aboriginal Corporation is a fully Aboriginal owned and governed art centre located at Yuendumu, 300 km northwest of Alice Springs.

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according to ABS statistics, with secondary-aged children (12–17) increasing by 35,000 in the same period. About 4000 potential-excess contract jobs are posted each year on Recruitment Online. But it is believed that the number of teachers defined officially as “in excess” in schools is only in the hundreds. The AEU checks teaching positions displayed on Recruitment Online weekly and asks the Education Department to audit schools posting many fixed-term positions. AEU school sub-branches are urged to check that valid reasons justify the advertising of fixedterm positions in their schools. ◆

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“Solidarity through food security” Agricultural project, Cambodia. Photograph by Ryan Pike. Battambang Province is known as the ‘bread basket of Cambodia’ and produces most of Cambodia’s rice harvest. But beyond the large rice farms, smallholder farmers, which are mostly femaleheaded households, are struggling. Thirty-six per cent of children in Battambang are stunted from poor nutrition. Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA works with smallholder farmers to diversify their incomes and their diets, introducing organic vegetable growing and fish farming. This farmer has completed the training and is able to offer her grandchildren a diet with all the micronutrients they need. All proceeds go to

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Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA works with women and men in developing countries to provide the support they need to attain:

Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA works with women and men in developing countries to provide the support they need to attain:

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Shovels OUT When you’re in a hole, keep digging — that’s the conclusion of yet another Spring Street-commissioned analysis of TAFE’s funding woes. Research officer Justin Bowd despairs.


OT on the heels of the Essential Services Commission’s report on VET fees and funding comes a draft report from the Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission that also has much to say about TAFE. Sadly, it reaches many of the same conclusions about the need to increase competition. Worryingly, it even goes further, to suggest that TAFE should be privatised. As academic Leesa Wheelahan noted in an interview with The Australian last month, this is the logical conclusion of Victoria’s skills reform agenda. Treasurer Kim Wells directed the VCEC in April to identify areas for reform to improve state-level productivity and labour force participation. VCEC notes how important education and training are to increasing productivity and says that Victoria will “require more high- and medium-skilled workers, and more flexible workers, with strong general skills that can move between jobs and industries”. Apart from the use of the F-word, this is an acceptable statement. It seems to confirm that employees will need more than narrow industry or workplace-based competencies. If the focus weren’t so strongly on the economy one could almost be forgiven for thinking the VCEC was attacking an instrumentalist view of education. Alas, such hopes are quickly dispelled. The report’s first recommendation on VET is to strengthen competition between public and private providers and to remove a “number of differences in funding and regulatory arrangements (that) prevent public and private providers competing on a ‘level playing field’, thus weakening competition” (p29). The commission says that TAFE institutes’ ability


aeu news | december 2011

to compete is impeded by their legal status and public service obligations; while private providers’ competitive ability is reduced by their lower levels of funding. Its solution is not only to reduce the funding gap but to turn TAFEs into “government business enterprises” (subject to laws on competitive neutrality, which are monitored by VCEC) and eventually privatised. The public service functions of TAFE should be identified and opened up to competitive funding too. VCEC also recommends publishing “timely performance information on outcomes and quality for all registered training organisations receiving training guarantee funding” (p32). That would be welcome but would also do little to remove any regulatory burden so antithetical to

VCEC’s mission. In an industry where turnover of organisations and their staff is so fluid, the difficulty of obtaining meaningful information is dauntingly high. For a “product” such as education, increasing competition increases the need for regulation. In VCEC’s best of all possible worlds — where the consumer is always right — there would be no such thing as an over-subscribed course such as personal fitness qualifications. It is almost as if the previous government — which spent much less than any other state on VET — looked at the training system and pondered: “It works well in practice but does it work in theory?” VCEC also seems unable to recognise the link between competition and the blow-out in VET costs that resulted in recently announced cuts to TAFE funding. Its approach to getting VET out of this funding hole is simply to dig harder. ◆

Voices highlight risk to quality A

S THE VCEC paper hit the table, public meetings were being held around Victoria to gather responses to the Essential Services Commission (ESC) report on VET fees and funding. That report recommended expanding the new market-driven funding system, removing the maximum and minimum caps on course fees, and phasing out TAFE’s preferential funding over private providers — a differential that recognises TAFEs’ community service obligations. It also said priority should be given to “implementing greater transparency in ‘product disclosure’ so that all relevant parties — students, employers, providers and government — can make better informed decisions”, a recommendation at odds with the Government’s decision to quickly extend the market. The AEU hoped that the consultation process overseen by Professor Gerald Burke and Dr Peter Veenker would allow people to voice their concerns about the recommendations. At one public meeting in Melbourne on October 28, no one had anything positive to say about the previous Labor government’s changes to VET funding or the present Coalition Government’s response to the ESC report. A dominant concern was the negative effect a competitive VET system was having on training quality. Professor Gerald Burke, from Monash University’s faculty of education and a member of Skills Australia, identified quality as the main area of risk from the changes. AEU councillor Michael Zangmeister said that describing a course as government-funded — as many private providers do — misleadingly implied a quality guarantee but regulators had been unable to keep up with the explosion in numbers of private training providers. The expert panel reports to Skills Minister Peter Hall at the end of November. It is not known whether its feedback will be made public. ◆



the word

The pay equity case inspired adult disability instructor Caroline Backman to get more involved in her union. She now wants others to do the same, reports Cynthia Karena.


AROLINE Backman is an adult disability services instructor at Windarring ATSS (Adult Training Support Service) in Castlemaine, working with adults with learning disabilities. She’s also a union rep and a councillor on the AEU’s TAFE and adult provision (TAP) council. “We are undervalued,” she says. “We work with vulnerable people with physical and intellectual disabilities. We provide them with care and physical support, including tube feeding, toileting, bathing, and changing catheters. “We deal with people with aggressive behaviour. I was bitten on the first day of work. I’ve been punched across the throat, and chased up the street. They can also be dangerous to themselves, (for example) cutting themselves out of frustration. “We are there to support as well as educate. That’s why our role is important. I do this work because making a positive difference is very rewarding.” But the low pay means it’s difficult to attract young people, says Caroline. “It’s an appalling pay rate, which doesn’t encourage disability services as a career path. Cleaners get paid nine cents an hour less than us, and I’m at the peak — I’ve been here 11 years — unless I go into management.” The Gillard Government last month reached an agreement with unions over improved pay in community and social work (including adult disability services), making a joint submission to the pay equity case brought by unions to Fair Work Australia. Importantly, the Government set aside $2 billion to cover the federal costs of higher pay. The AEU is still waiting for the Baillieu Government to agree to do the same. Caroline has been active in the campaign for better pay, organising in June with management for her service to close for the day so staff could come down to the national day of action rally in Melbourne. As well as winning a fair wage, Caroline hopes that a pay increase will attract more young people

and men. “We only have one male instructor; he does the can crushing and woodwork activities.” Two weeks of shadowing union officials

show& tell

The most important thing I take into work every day is … To stay positive as every day I enhance, support and inspire the lives of the people I support.

The best trick for coping with staff meetings is … Always have something to contribute to the meeting. The best piece of advice I ever received was … The people in your life are what makes life interesting, so listen and learn. My advice to a beginning instructor is … Treat everyone the way you would like to be treated. The most important thing the AEU does for its members is … Work on our agreements so we can have reasonable work conditions. In my other life, I am … A world-famous trashy novelist. The book that changed my life was … Bryce Courtney’s The Potato Factory — the main character was a very strong, determined woman. My favourite teacher at school was … My politics teacher. He treated us all with respect and made us all feel important. If I met human services minister Mary Wooldridge I’d tell her … There are wonderful, dedicated hard-working instructors supporting some of the most vulnerable people in our community. We give so much of ourselves at work, emotionally and physically. It would be nice to be rewarded with better pay and conditions to help support our own families. ◆

increased Caroline’s awareness of what the AEU does for its members — now she wants to inspire others to become involved. She spent a fortnight at the AEU and Trades Hall in Carlton as part of the Anna Stewart Memorial Project, a program to increase women’s involvement in the union movement. “I felt like part of the family at the AEU. It was wonderful,” she says. “I learnt so much about how the union works and how agreements are put together. It was terrific. I had one-on-one time with AEU disability organisers on their visits to other disability services in Broadmeadows and Wonthaggi. “Because of the pay equity case, I was there for the discussions and I understand a lot more about it now. I feel empowered because I have a lot more information.” Since 1984, more than 400 women unionists have participated in the Victorian arm of the Anna Stewart Memorial Project, though most of the AEU members have come from schools and TAFE. “It was very empowering to be with a group of intelligent, interesting, inspiring women from different backgrounds and cultures,” says Caroline. She is now trying to encourage others working in adult disability services to step up and become union reps and be more active in the AEU. “But people aren’t happy to go out of their comfort zone.” So what does she tell them? “It will inspire your work. If you’re a rep, you’ll have some influence in negotiations and understand more about what’s going on.” Caroline joined the union when she started working in disability services. A union rep asked her. “Sometimes all you need is for someone to ask you to join. But I joined because of a past experience at a factory when I was injured. I wasn’t in a union and wished I was for the support with issues at work.”◆

Find out more about the Anna Stewart Memorial Project at




If the Gonski Funding Review needed any more evidence that investment produces results, the Smarter Schools national partnerships have it in spades. But what happens when the money runs out? Sian Watkins reports.


XTRA spending and money invested in improving literacy and numeracy in 210 Victorian schools in the past four years has been a great success. Struggling students have made excellent progress and teachers have appreciated and benefited greatly from the specialist and in-house coaching and extra time granted to develop their teaching and assessment strategies. But, under the state and federal-funded National Partnership programs established in 2008, funding for the literacy and numeracy program is just about depleted, extra money for improving teacher quality ends in 2012-13 and extra money for disadvantaged schools finishes in 2014-15. Although the programs were intended to produce “sustainable reforms”, many educators say this cannot be achieved through fragmented, special-purpose grants, particularly in disadvantaged schools. Instead, systemic, sustainable improvements require long-term, predictable funding. The experience of the National Partnerships bolsters the case for the overhaul of funding to direct money where it is needed: to the schools, overwhelmingly public, that take disadvantaged, migrant, Indigenous and special-needs students. With the federal funding review about to deliver its recommendations, the partnerships have shown that investment works — but must be ongoing if the improvements are to be more than transient. AEU president Mary Bluett said disadvantaged schools needed recurrent funding. “Support needs to be ongoing to have a sustained impact and to allow schools to plan effectively.” Principals say the three-year funding to improve disadvantaged students’ literacy and numeracy does not benefit new intakes or the many teachers employed on short and fixed-term contracts, whose access to specialist knowledge and guidance within schools will be limited or non-existent. They say that a sophisticated knowledge of the way students acquire literacy and numeracy, and the skills to apply that knowledge to different abilities in a classroom, cannot be condensed and issued to teachers as a photocopied handout. Specialist literacy and numeracy coaches are also able to


aeu news | december 2011

feature Literacy & numeracy leaders at Mount Erin Secondary College. From left; Karen Lee, Murray Sydenham, principal Allen McAuliffe, Helen Smalley and Jess Haisty.

keep up with the ever-growing body of research into the ways children learn. What are the national partnerships? Iramoo Primary School is one school to have received funding under the HE three Smarter Schools National Partnerships are the product of literacy and numeracy partnership. Principal Moira Findlay says it has made a agreements reached by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) to difference, but one-off grants “make planning ahead difficult, particularly when achieve coordinated and consistent improvements in areas of national imporyou want to embed good practice in the school. tance such as education, skills, disability, housing and indigenous affairs. “How will schools continue to get the same results next year without the COAG has specified the spending required by the states to meet reform resources? It’s a huge challenge.” goals and Canberra has given some money to help governments achieve these Allen McAuliffe, principal of Mount Erin Secondary College in Frankston goals. In some cases Canberra provides reward payments to states that meet South, which received $140,000 in literacy and numeracy funding in reform targets. 2009–10, says: “It’s very, very disappointing that the program hasn’t been The “Smarter Schools” partnerships have directed funding over two to seven allowed to get real traction. years to: “You can’t improve the teaching of literacy and numeracy pedagogy • Improve literacy and numeracy in government, Catholic and indewith the piecemeal approach of a one-year program. You need continuity pendent schools by establishing effective systems and teaching and to build and plan.” McAuliffe and other principals were expecting more learning practices National Partnerships money this year to pay for next year’s literacy and • Support students in disadvantaged communities numeracy development. Victoria has received $9.3 million in reward • Improve teacher quality. funding from Canberra this year but it has not been redistributed. “We’ve had no information or explanations, which is extremely National partnership for literacy and numeracy 2008–12 frustrating and disappointing,” McAuliffe says. “If we don’t find out Canberra promised Victoria $26.8 million and potential reward payments totalling soon what’s happening to the funding I’ll have to put the literacy and $62.6m between 2010–12 should it meet literacy and numeracy improvement numeracy coaches back into full-time teaching allotments.” targets focusing on 492 high-need schools. A Federal Government spokesman said Canberra’s understanding Victoria had to allocate $216.4m to the L&N program between 2008–10. A was that the State Government intended to use the reward funding Government spokeswoman said this figure was the “dollar amount Victoria was “for education purposes in consultation with the non-government spending to support literacy and numeracy programs already running in Victorian school sectors”. government schools”. The type of professional development delivered in schools by Victoria has not met all its 34 high targets, jeopardising its access to all Canberra’s the literacy and numeracy funding in the past two years is strongly $62.6m carrot. endorsed by the recent Victorian Competition and Efficiency It received $9m reward money in June, but the government has not disclosed whether Commission draft report, Securing Victoria’s Future Prosperity: A this money will be passed on to schools to continue their L&N work. The spokeswoman reform agenda. ts recommendations include: said the $9m was received as “untied revenue” and any redistribution would be made • Sustained efforts at all levels of the education and training through “the formal budget process”. system to tackle literacy and numeracy skills over the longer Frustrated principals say they were told they would get more L&N partnership money in term 2011–12 but have so far received no money or explanations from the department. • More emphasis on teachers’ professional development. “There appear to be benefits … from teachers learning from National partnership for low socio-economic status school communities more skilled and experienced teachers on-site and from taking (2008–15) a team-based approach to addressing students with learning Victoria will get $275.3m from Canberra over the seven years of the partnership. difficulties,” the report says. The money is to be spent in 284 low SES schools on improving teaching quality, encour“In high-performing countries such as Finland and Japan, aging different ways of learning, improving overall student wellbeing and encouraging better teachers work together, plan their lessons jointly, observe each connections between schools, families and local communities. others’ lessons and help each other improve.’’ The report says that although teachers are expected to National Partnership for improving teacher quality (2008–13) engage in ongoing professional learning, their workloads, Victoria will get $23.9m over five years from Canberra, with potential reward funding of up to teaching schedules and the limited budgets to pay for PD and $89m. ◆ replacement staff all prevent it. ➠continued on page 18




L-R: Maths coach Helen Gist, principal Paul Rose and literacy coach Jeni Eastwood of Ballarat SC


➠ continued from page 17 Smart investment In one sense Iramoo Primary is fortunate in that it has a large number of low-cost graduate teachers. Its lower salary bill means it can continue to employ its experienced, effective numeracy coach, Kelvin Bottrell, for the next two years. But Mary Bluett says a school’s capacity to run support programs should not be determined by the cost of its staff. Located in Melbourne’s west and with 585 students drawn from a low SES area, Iramoo received $233,000 over two years. In the first year, it used the money for “excellent” leadership team coaching on strategies such as effective data analysis and “looking below the surface” to identify a school’s strengths, weaknesses and potential areas for improvement. Although the Western Metropolitan Region requires its schools to appoint literacy and numeracy coaches, Iramoo used the first year’s money to enable this team to spend more time coaching their colleagues — withdrawing them from classroom teaching for one day each week to help other teachers plan and apply effective teaching and learning strategies. This year it employed leading teacher Kelvin Bottrell to work as a full-time coach, helping teachers plan and deliver effective numeracy lessons. Iramoo’s many young, inexperienced teachers have benefited greatly from his advice. “It’s much more effective if coaching takes place in the classroom,” says principal Moira Findlay. Bottrell plans with teachers, demonstrates lessons, helps teachers deliver planned lessons, identifies students’ weaknesses and helps teachers plan and deliver differentiated lessons. “We try to give kids opportunities to fly — the strong kids as well as the weaker kids.” Bottrell has also introduced a highly-successful Monash University-developed program, Getting Ready in Numeracy (GRIN), to 24 struggling Grade 3 students.


aeu news | december 2011

Three students at a time are withdrawn three or four times a week to spend about 20 minutes with Mr Bottrell getting a preparatory session for their next maths lesson, for which clear aims have been identified. Consequently, they march into their next maths lesson forewarned, forearmed and more confident. Over three years, the extra resources have definitely paid off. Progress achieved by matched cohorts of Iramoo students on NAPLAN tests since 2009 have been higher than the state mean. This is impressive given that Iramoo’s students are drawn from an area of significant socioeconomic disadvantage, Ms Findlay says. She says that some schools might not need full-time literacy and numeracy specialists but “some do — particularly growing schools with a high SFO. I sincerely hope the federal funding continues.” Over in Frankston, Mount Erin spent its $140,000 on in-house coaching, teaching and modelling best practice, time release for teachers to plan together and observe each other teaching, and leadership coaching. It has resulted in “clear data showing significant improvements in students’ literacy and numeracy”, says McAuliffe. “We are especially proud of our Year 9 writing data.” “The money has been used legitimately to bring about significant, positive change. It’s been very frustrating for schools unable to continue the program and with no explanation.” Ballarat Secondary College was another of the 210 Victorian schools selected for literacy and numeracy funding. The school got about $300,000 in 2010–11 but cannot continue its program next year. Principal Paul Rose says that despite being promised funding over three years “we’ve got nothing for next year. This means our numeracy coach returns to the department at the end of this year and funding runs out for our literacy coach at the end of (April).”

Full-time coaches and coaching of all teachers at Ballarat Secondary has been “extraordinarily successful”, says Rose. “Our NAPLAN data has undergone marked improvement as has our internal longitudinal testing. Our level of improvement is way above the state average. “This sort of practice (in schools) needs to be ongoing because you have staff turnover and you need specialists supporting and pushing classroom teachers to be better. “If you aim to take a Year 7 student, who’s operating at a Grade 4 level, and bring him up to where he or she should be in Year 10, then you need support to continually keep pushing forward.” ◆

Education professionals can contribute successful literacy and numeracy strategies to the Teach, Learn, Share database being managed and developed by Education Services Australia. The database will enable teachers and educators to share their literacy and numeracy tools and strategies. Contributions will be evaluated to validate their effectiveness. Go to and look under Projects for Teach Learn Share.


RAMOO’S numeracy leader Kelvin Bottrell takes three Grade 3 students from their class into a small space next door. “We have only 20 minutes,” he says. “We can’t waste it traipsing around the school to another room.” A literacy and numeracy coach and a former middle years’ consultant, Kelvin is kind and quietly firm with the students. He says the GRIN program, developed by Professor Peter Sullivan at Monash University, “is one of the most exciting intervention strategies I’ve been involved in”. It involves reflecting on the students’ previous maths lesson, providing a warm-up exercise in a student’s weak area, introducing key words and phrases to be used in their next maths lesson, beginning an activity to be delivered in the next lesson and, finally, briefly recounting the important messages and concepts for the lesson. Kelvin also watches the way students learn. Jamez has been advised to look at people who are talking, and to watch their hand movements, which will help him discern meaning. He starts with Jamez: “Jamez. What do you remember from the last maths lesson?” Jamez squirms, tips his head sideways and backwards. There’s a long pause. “Maths, places.” “Do you remember what a coordinate is?” Kelvin waits. And waits. “Letters, numbers.” “Very good.” Kelvin places a giant playing card on the table and asks Jamez to identify the numeral. “Eight.” Another card is placed in front of it. “Forty-eight” Another card is placed in front of that. “Two hundred and forty-eight. The other two children watch. Another card. “One thousand two-hundred and forty-eight.” This continues. Jamez is doing very well.

He is thwarted momentarily by the seven-figure number but “million” finally comes to him. Kelvin high-fives him. Nicky has a go and gets stuck trying to express 427,963. “Nick, you couldn’t count in hundreds when you started and now look what you can do. Well done.” Kelvin tells the students that “Mrs Pantelidis will be talking about vocabulary today. What does vocabulary mean?”

❛One teacher says she has achieved more in her numeracy professional learning this year than the previous 10 combined.❜ He runs through the words to be used. He shows them an untitled map of Scienceworks and asks the students what its title might be. “What are coordinates?” he asks the children. “Letters. Numbers,” Jamez says. “Good.” With Kelvin’s help the children draw a room, stick it on grid paper and mark the coordinates. “When you have your maths lesson Mrs Pantelidis will ask you what features are on a map. What will you be able to tell her?” All the work in each GRIN session is recorded in a scrapbook which students take back to the classroom. They often refer to the book during their maths lesson to remember what they did in GRIN. All students in the program have made excellent progress. Between March and June, for example, one student moved from VELS 1.7 (roughly Grade 2 standard) to 2.6 (start of Grade 4). Another student, who was doing well in GRIN, demonstrated no progress in testing, which perplexed Bottrell and the student’s class

teacher. “We found out he wasn’t reading the test questions,” Kelvin explains. “Every time he came to a new word he’d tune out. “So he received extra literacy help, worked on his poor learning behaviours and now his hand is shooting up in class. At the start of the year he was end of Grade 1 standard and now he’s an average Grade 3 kid. He’s gone from 1.6 to 2.5 based on the On Demand number test.” Kelvin says that without support next year these students could easily resort to old habits. So he will follow them into Grade 4 and take them twice a week for GRIN. Another specialist teacher will run GRIN for struggling Grade 3 students next year. The school can continue the program only because of its lower-than-most wages bill. Kelvin oversees numeracy planning at every year level and “we plan fortnightly for the following two weeks. Teachers then send me their more detailed lesson plans and together we choose an activity to focus on with the GRIN students.” Grade 3 coordinator Cheryl Pantelidis has taught for a decade. Supported by a numeracy coach, and with her weaker students taken aside for GRIN, she says she has achieved more in her numeracy professional learning this year than the previous 10 combined. This professional learning and support has given her great job satisfaction. ◆ Call Bronwyn Smith at Monash University for more information about the GRIN program on 03 9905 0724, or go to













Kelvin Bottrell with Moo Gay, Jamez and Nicky.




The Chicago school of economics A public school set up by unions and business is helping give students the skills to revive America’s rust belt. Justin Mullaly reports.


ITTING on Chicago’s tough West side, Austin is one of the most densely populated, disadvantaged communities in America’s mid-west. Ninety per cent of its 118,000 residents are African-American. Most adults have not completed school past Year 10. Its only high school closed down; gangs and violence are all too common — to the point where no chain supermarket will open a store there. Parts of Austin are designated “food deserts” with no access to fresh fruit or vegetables. But today it’s also home to Austin Polytechnic Academy, a new school created to give students the skills to revive the struggling Chicago economy. It’s the unlikely result of a collaboration between Chicago unions, the notoriously anti-labour Illinois Manufacturers Association and the city government, who have come together as the Chicago Manufacturing Renaissance Council. Significantly, it’s a public school, not a charter or private school. At a time when the Victorian Government is cutting almost $50 million from vocational learning in schools and more than $200m from Victorian TAFE colleges — while business leaders cry out for skilled workers — it offers something for us to learn. In a story typical of many cities in the Western

world with a large manufacturing sector, Chicago suffered significantly from the move of manufacturing jobs to China, Mexico and elsewhere during the 1980s and 1990s. More than 150,000 manufacturing jobs were lost in the Chicago area in the 1980s alone, and hundreds of thousands more since. With this decline in manufacturing came a dramatic increase in urban poverty, particularly in the African-American community. Illinois manufacturers, like many others in the West, responded to competition by producing more sophisticated, higher-value products. But with that has come the need for higher skilled workers. As former manufacturing worker and union leader Dan Swinney says: “The work that required low skills, that was typically low wage, has gone offshore and we no longer have a competitive advantage in that kind of work. “Therefore companies in Chicago, in the United States in general, have gradually shifted to making more complex products, shifting to higher valueadded work. And one of the biggest challenges they face is finding the highly skilled and highly educated workforce required to do work at all levels of the firm.” Swinney is the founder of a not-for-profit

For those with a lot. And those with a


aeu news | december 2011

research organisation, the Center for Labor and Community Research, that aims to provide decent, well-paid, long-term jobs and the education and training needed to enable people to take on those jobs, not least in Chicago’s African-American community. In 2000, the centre undertook an extensive study of education and training and its relationship to manufacturing. It found that more than 5000 advanced manufacturing jobs went unfilled each year in the Chicago area. These were jobs that required significant skills and qualifications, with starting salaries above US$70,000 a year. The report also found that schools and community colleges (similar to our TAFE system) were unable to provide interested students with the qualifications needed to seize these opportunities. Importantly, the report also recognised that if advanced manufacturing was to be an option for the city, then the education system could not simply provide a “conveyor belt” for students from school to factory floor. Some students might find good careers in production, but a vibrant manufacturing business needed young people with qualifications in sales, marketing, accountancy and law, among many other skills. The report culminated in a 20-year vision for education and manufacturing in Chicago that garnered the support of the Illinois Manufacturers Association — described by Swinney as “very conservative, very Republican”, with a long history of being anti-labour. This led to the establishment of the Chicago Manufacturing Renaissance Council, comprising the IMA, the Chicago Federation of Labor, and the city government. These unlikely bedfellows set about developing a partnership to turn Chicago into a global hub of advanced manufacturing. Swinney says: “Probably the most important

More than 60 manufacturers, mostly small and medium enterprises, are linked to the school, offering students mentoring, workplace excursions, work experience, internships and part-time jobs. In the school’s metal workshop, students learn to program robotic manufacturing machines identical to those used in industry. Students can gain the equivalent of Certificate III and IV level skills, particularly in computerised manufacturing. Some are employed by sponsor companies on completing their studies. Others go on to community college or university, something uncommon in the community in the past. “We see a career in manufacturing as being a lawyer doing intellectual property rights,” Swinney says. “We see a career in manufacturing as having a PhD in nanotechnology. We see a career in manufacturing as being engaged in industrial policy

Find out more Austin Polytechnic Academy: Chicago Manufacturing Renaissance Council: www. Center for Labor and Community Research:


quality of keeping this partnership was to define [its] limits. So we’re very clear that the purpose of the Renaissance Council is focused solely on becoming global leaders in making complex things, of preserving the partnership, and of seeking dramatic reform in education and being committed to community development. “There’s tons of issues where labour unions and business will continue to disagree, where government will be on the other side of things, and that’s fine.” Austin Polytechnic Academy is the standout among the Renaissance Council’s several projects. The council was adamant that it should be part of the public education system, despite attempts by the then head of Chicago schools Arne Duncan (now Barack Obama’s Secretary of Education) to have the school become a flagship for the charter school movement. The council’s decision to back a new school in Austin was in recognition that the community needed support to create educational and career opportunities for its young people, and that it could advance the broader community development work that was occurring. “In addition to the low-skilled work going offshore, there’s been really an abandonment or a break in the link between public education and manufacturing,” Swinney says. With a focus on manufacturing and engineering, the academy aims to prepare students for university and the workforce and educate the next generation of leaders in advanced manufacturing. Students learn about careers in all aspects of the industry, from skilled production and engineering to management and company ownership and related sectors such as intellectual property law.

Justin Mullally in an advanced calculus class.

and in human relations and labour rights. So we cast manufacturing in a very broad way that is both realistic, because all those careers are essential for the vibrancy of a productive economy, [and] far more appealing to a broader range of students.” The school also delivers career education for all students, not just those in their final years. Students in the early years of high school are exposed to workplaces through tours, shadowing and learning in the classroom. The program is reminiscent of Victoria’s Northern College of Arts and Technology (formerly Northland Secondary College and Northland Technology Education Centre), which has developed vocationally oriented facilities and curriculum linked to job opportunities and post school training. A close relationship with local manufacturing industries has been a hallmark of NCAT. But the work of the Renaissance Council and Austin Polytechnic Academy show how sophisticated those relationships can become when the mutual interests of communities, educators, unions and business combine to provide experiences and opportunities for students. ◆ Justin Mullaly is AEU Victorian vice president, secondary.

Final year Austin Polytechnic students with delegation of Australian educators.



An economist’s view of the schools workforce reduces teachers to human capital — but at least it recognises that they’re underpaid. Research officer John Graham reports.


AUNCHING a review of the education workforce last year, the economist and chairman of the Productivity Commission, Gary Banks, summed up the role of “institutional environments for formal learning”. “The accumulation of human capital, like physical capital requires investment of both resources and time to add to the existing stock and fend off depreciation,” he said. As a take on the work of teachers and schools, it betrayed the commission’s origins as a Howard government vehicle for market-based reforms — including eliminating any perceived competitive advantage the public sector might have. Eighteen months later, the Productivity Commission’s draft report on the schools workforce duly endorses a conservative education agenda and calls for greater “cost effectiveness”. At the launch, Banks outlined his program for “reform” as school and principal autonomy, better teachers, performance pay, differential remuneration linked to subject scarcity, opposition to class size reductions, support for NAPLAN and My School, and antagonism to “wrong-headed, entrenched producer opposition” to these ideas. Now, after extensive research, expenditure and consultation, the draft report adopts a remarkably similar position. It’s just a little more nuanced, calling for additional research and trials (and noting the as-yet-unfinished schools funding review). Several themes link its recommendations. An improvement in “teacher quality” requires complementary improvements in pre-service teacher education, recruitment, PD, performance management, career structures and salaries. School leadership improvements are linked to accountability for school results, contract employment, school autonomy, local hiring and firing and a more flexible IR environment. The commission generally endorses the Federal Government’s accountability agenda, with two qualified exceptions: performance pay and two-year teaching qualifications. On the first, it supports the principle but has reservations about the Rewards for Great Teachers scheme, saying the “one-size-fits-all” proposal to reward 10% of teachers with a 10% bonus “may cause some teachers to treat the incentive as a lottery”. (One week later, the scheme was dead in the water.) Instead, Canberra should finance smaller scale


aeu news | december 2011

experiments “building on” the unpopular model presently being trialled in Victoria. It notes the DEECD’s explanation for the scheme’s unpopularity in schools: “The magnitude of change … presented a more significant challenge than anticipated.” The report is lukewarm about the alternative of embedding performance-based positions in the career structure. It calls for further input on the issues involved, such as the limited effect of a small number of positions, links to non-teaching duties, selection processes unrelated to student performance, the risk of these positions turning into “automatic advancement” and, as usual, cost effectiveness. The report does recognise that teachers need to be paid more. It comments that teachers’ wages have not kept pace with other professions: “Indeed, there is evidence to suggest that since 1995, there has been no increase in the average real salaries of Australia’s more experienced teachers.” Salary increases are also seen as a way of addressing teacher shortages, linking hard-to-staff subject areas to higher salaries. In the “market place”, maths and science graduates earn considerably more outside of teaching, so competitive salaries are required, the report says. The second national initiative questioned by the report is the decision to get rid of one-year diplomas of education in favour of two-year graduate teacher education qualifications —

a change it says cannot be justified on cost effective grounds and the potential to exacerbate teacher shortages. Average class size reductions are “a costly policy approach that does not appear to have translated into a commensurate improvement in overall student outcomes” and has “tied up” funding that could have been better spent. Any further reductions should be limited to specific groups (such as special needs or disadvantaged students), possibly offset by larger classes elsewhere. This call for “tailored approaches” to class sizes is part of a general case for more “flexibility” in workforce organisation and industrial relations. The commission’s report disapproves of the fact that 90% of employees in education and training are paid under awards or agreements, compared with less than 60% across the economy as a whole. This leads to too much “centralisation” and reduces the capacity of school systems to respond to changing imperatives. The Productivity Commission has little new to say about improving schools. Its recipe for overcoming what it calls “reform inertia” parallels that of the federal and state governments. It has an economic agenda with little to inspire the human capital in schools. Submissions to the Productivity Commission on the draft report close on February 17. The draft report is available at ◆

Victoria’s reform agenda


HE Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission, Victoria’s equivalent of the Productivity Commission, has published its proposals for a statewide reform agenda. In the section “Reinvigorating the School System”, it calls for: • More school performance information • The removal of unnecessary controls on local decision-making • Clearer lines of responsibility between principals, school councils and DEECD • Principals to have enough authority to make local management decisions • Better targetting of funding to students with greatest need • Better salaries and career paths for teachers • Competency-based entry into teaching • More teachers doing more PD • Recognition and rewards for high-performing teachers • Improved management of unsatisfactory teacher performance. On pay, it says: “Research evidence suggests that relative pay and alternative employment ­opportunities influence the decision to become a teacher, the decision to remain a teacher, and the decision to return to teaching. Based on average weekly earnings (ordinary time), teachers are among the lowest-paid professions in Victoria.” ◆

Summer Lakes break


ETUNG Holiday Villas on the Gippsland Lakes is offering AEU members special rates for a short break during the summer holidays. The four-star resort offers a range of luxury villas from one to three bedrooms, and a heated pool and other facilities, 10 minutes from Metung village centre. Members planning a three-night break (or longer) after January 11 can access the rates through the resort’s website — click on the “Book Now” button, set the date range to January and enter the promotional code Jan2012. ◆

Beat the Christmas crowds with Union Shopper


NION members can save money and avoid busy shopping centre crowds at Christmas by purchasing online or over the phone with Union Shopper. From theme park tickets and fragrances to manchester, jewellery and groceries to holiday costs, Union Shopper has a huge range of discounted products and services for members to enjoy. “Union members can save valuable time and literally thousands of dollars on gifts and holiday costs over the Christmas period,” Union Shopper executive officer Brett McCreadie said. “Members can save on a range of Christmas purchases, including electrical and white goods, perfume and jewellery, books and DVDs, new and used cars, groceries, travel and accommodation, tickets and passes and car hire.” A number of hotels and resorts offer discounted rates for members, and Hertz provides members with “mate’s rates” on car hire. Members can even save on Christmas groceries and beverages, with Coles and Woolworths WISH gift cards reduced by 5% (credit card fees and other conditions may apply). On average, Union Shopper members save 9–13% on their best price on white goods and electrical purchases, which make great Christmas presents. To register for free or to find out more about the range of products and services, call 1300 368 117 or visit ◆

Our Christmas savings are as unreal as Santa! At no cost to you, we help you save time and money at Christmas on: • electrical and white goods • gifts • groceries • holiday costs • and much more…

Participating brands include:

Women’s FOCUS

Barb Jennings women’s officer

Where are the TAFE women? Women are under-represented in TAFE institute hierarchies — and on our council.


OMEN make up 47% of AEU TAFE members but only 27% of AEU Victorian TAFE councillors. This compares unfavourably with the 60% women councillors on the AEU’s Victorian schools council. Of course the percentage of women educators varies across different sectors but TAFE women remain very under-represented in decision-making positions in the union (and in institutes). As a union we are committed to listening to the concerns of all our members. Our goal is to improve the working lives of all. So it is very important that our decision-making bodies truly reflect our membership. Federally, the AEU recommitted to addressing this issue at its federal women’s conference in October. Across Australia, the union is looking at ways to increase the involvement and representation of women in leadership positions in the profession and in the union. AEU president Mary Bluett, deputy secretary Gillian Robertson and I recently met a number of Victoria University TAFE teachers over lunch to talk about the importance of women standing for TAFE council and getting more involved in the union. We are planning a professional development event next year so that TAFE women can meet councillors, see what the role involves and why it is worth getting involved. Across the Victorian branch, our figures for elected positions in AEU leadership, executive and council are very good — women are strongly represented and in proportion to our membership. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said in the workplace. It has been difficult to get full data from the Education Department and other employers but, despite some improvement in principal and assistant principal figures, women remain under-represented in leadership roles in schools and institutes. We have shown our commitment to the profession by offering practical PD for women educators since the department vacated the field (except for the highly effective Eleanor Davis program that reaches 30 women a year). If you are a woman employed in TAFE, keep an eye out for AEU initiatives to increase your knowledge and experience of your union. Going global Next year, the AEU Women’s Program will focus on our global responsibilities and issues for women and girls across the world. Our International Women’s Day Dinner speaker will be from the International Women’s Development Agency. Book a table from your workplace early because this event can only hold 200 women and it always books out quickly. The IWDA works with partners in the Asia Pacific area. Initiatives include Young Women’s Leadership for refugees on the Thai-Burma border, Raising Young Women’s Voices on Climate Change in PNG and Safe Houses for Women in Cambodia. The AEU hopes to work with the IWDA to develop a resource kit for teachers to use with students in the week of International Women’s Day next year. Please contact me at if you are interested in being involved in the development of such a kit — we are planning a small working group. ◆


inside the AEU


inside the AEU

AEU TRAINING & PD Kim Daly and Rowena Matcott training officers

Personal trainers

With a new agreement in the wings, can you afford not to be trained?


EU Active is the AEU’s main training program, designed to develop active, well-informed subbranches and networks. The aim of all our AEU industrial and professional development is to increase your understanding of the agreements or conditions and give you the confidence to use this knowledge in a positive way. Next year, our courses will be more important than ever. In the first part of the year we may well be in campaign mode as we negotiate a new Schools Agreement (followed by ES negotiations). Once we reach a new agreement our AEU Active courses will be your key to understanding its changes and new provisions and how to access the benefits at your school or workplace. Members can choose the two-day AEU Active course or take one or more one-day modules throughout the year. Go to for specific course content as this will change depending on the time of year and the state of teacher and ES negotiations. In general, all courses cover knowledge and understanding of the 2008 (or 2012) Schools and

ES Agreements and how to implement these at your school. For more topics, see the box on the right. Courses are open to all members working in schools, including education support staff, teachers and principal class. In most cases, the AEU pays the cost of your replacement for AEU Active courses including modules, up to $280 a day for teachers and $190 a day for ES members. Courses run from 9.30am to 4pm except where noted. All bookings are to be made on the website but, if you have any queries, call (03) 9417 2822 and ask for Rhonda, or the contact person listed. Because AEU Active training aims to create more active workplaces, we encourage two people from each school to attend. In-school PD We can also come to your school and speak to teachers and ES on any of the topics listed here and many more. Contact us to organise a suitable date and time. Our training calendar will be sent to all members before the start of the next school year and it will also be available on the website. ◆

AEU ACTIVE COURSE TOPICS Topics covered will be a selection from: • Meetings • Hours of work • Face to face time • Class sizes • Incremental scale • Student Resource Package • Consultation • Employment • TOIL • Special payments • Classification structure • Attendance • Teacher and ES work • Role descriptions • Work dimensions • Recall • Leave • How to set up local agreements • Negotiation skills • Occupational health and safety • Legal liability

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.

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aeu news | december 2011

inside the AEU

On the PHONES Membership Services Unit — 1800 013 379

No automatic conversion to ongoing Fiona Sawyer MSU officer


ANY members ask us when can they be made ongoing? Many assume that after so many contracts or so much time conversion becomes automatic. Sadly, this is not the case. The Teacher and ES Agreements provide for conversion to ongoing but it depends on there being a vacant ongoing position to offer. The agreements set out what qualifies a contract staff member to become eligible for conversion. If you have been on more than 12 months of continuous contracts and if the school has correctly employed you in the first place, then you are eligible. It does not matter if your contracts were at different schools, only that they are continuous and were advertised on Recruitment Online. If a school has an ongoing position and an eligible staff member(s), the position cannot be advertised and must be offered to the eligible staff. People can be employed in a variety of ways so

check with us that you are eligible. We have model letters for ES and teacher members to use to request to be made ongoing — just give us a bell.

Attending job interviews Our Schools Agreement releases teachers to attend interviews for jobs in the state school system (see clause 22(10) if you want to check). There is no entitlement if you are applying for jobs in the independent system. Negotiate with your principal about how much time you can be released for. This is counted as duty, so it won’t come out of your personal or any other kind of leave. You can ask the school to which you are applying what times are available for interviews. The Education Department also provides an allowance for when teachers accept jobs that require them to move house. (Conditions apply — find out more on eduweb at

You could be eligible for reimbursement of reasonable out-of-pocket expenses such as overnight stays, travel and removal costs, or travelling for interviews. More information is set out in the department’s Personal Expense Reimbursements Policy and Guidelines. Changing time fractions We still get calls from members who want to know if their principal can change their time fraction without their agreement. The answer is NO. Whether you are ES or teaching staff, your time fraction cannot be changed without your agreement. Payslips over the holidays You cannot access eduPay outside of school so if you’re going to require copies of payslips over the summer holidays, download them before the end of term. If not, nothing will be available between your payslips of December 15 and February 1. ◆

ESSSuper members* – talk to us before you resign or retire. We know moving on from your school can be confusing when it comes to organising superannuation. So for all your important questions, speak to the people who run your fund to get all the answers.

Ready to make a move? Now’s the time to arrange a FREE personal consultation with an ESSSuper Member Education Consultant who can help make planning for your future easier by: Explaining your resignation or retirement options Providing any necessary forms Helping you decide if you need personal financial planning advice


Providing up-to-date estimates of your benefit.

Thinking of resigning or retiring at the end of this year?

Our Consultants are experts in your fund and can simplify even the hardest of super questions. Whether you’re changing employers or retiring and want to secure a comfortable future – talk to us today.

Call 1300 655 476 to book a free appointment with a Member Education Consultant. *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 or by calling our Member Contact Centre on 1300 655 476.

Proudly serving our members


inside the AEU

New Educators NETWORK Andrew Cassidy graduate teacher organiser

Just around the corner!

Make sure you rest over the summer because next year is going to be busy.


ITH the end of the year fast approaching, now is a good time to sit back, take a breath and think about 2012 and all of the events that the AEU will offer for its members. I would like to highlight two extremely important campaigns. The unions’s response to the Federal Funding Review, one of the most important events in education in the past 40 years, will be ramping up during February. There will be plenty of information coming out about all the events happening during what will be a very busy month. Something that you can do, and encourage others to do, is visit and sign up for regular updates about this incredibly important campaign. Secondly, EBA negotiations with the

Victorian Government continue. The AEU meets the Government regularly to discuss your working conditions and your salaries. Visit to keep

up to date and subscribe to regular updates from the AEU — click on the subscribe button in the News box. There will be lots to take in over the coming months and with many

Plugging in to a national network Josh Cusack Doncaster Secondary College


AST month I attended the second annual New Educators Conference in Adelaide. A packed first day included sessions on the federal funding review, national curriculum, new national standards for teachers and an analysis of NAPLAN data, all before lunch! For a new educator, there is not always the time and mental space to consider these issues in a busy week at school. It was useful to get an overview of the Australian curriculum that was free of “spin” and which covered the historical attempts at a unified curriculum. In later sessions we talked to other new teachers

new graduates commencing their career next year, sharing accurate information with them is vital. Enjoy a well-deserved holiday and come back safe and ready for a huge 2012. ◆

from around the country and compared experiences. One unsettling note was that we all had friends and colleagues who had left teaching in their first few years due to stress or repeated short-term contracts. On the other hand, although there were varied and interesting paths into teaching there was a shared passion for teaching that was inspiring. I didn’t know what to expect from the New Educators Network conference but it proved to be immensely enjoyable and informative. Plus, I now have a network of other new teachers from Thursday Island to Freemantle. ◆


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EW Mac offers and free training are now available to AEU members, with discounts on the MacBook Air laptop and training in using the iPad as a teaching tool. Apple has added two versions of the MacBook Air to its discount bundles for AEU members. The 4GB 11” model costs $1,149 including a three year warranty, while the 13” model costs $1,499. It joins the 13” and 15” MacBook Pro laptops as AEU bundles — available only by calling Apple telesales on 133 622. Full specifications and ordering details can be found at — log in and scroll down to “AEU Apple Offer”. Term 1 iPad and Mac training Three dates are set for free Mac training at the AEU next year. For newcomers, our long-running MacBook basics session runs on March 16, with a mini-bootcamp for new users before a more detailed look at the Mac’s potential for podcasting, movie-making, creating blogs and wikis and other applications of use to teaching. For iPad users, there are two sessions. An iPad 101 on February 16 will introduce users to the basics and look at a range of apps useful to teaching. A more detailed look at the iPad for teaching and learning runs on March 14. It will involve an in-depth exploration of useful apps for creating educational content, such as movie-making and animation, apps for accessing educational resources, and apps for practising literacy, numeracy and other skills. All sessions are held at the AEU office in Abbotsford and run from 10am to 3pm. An iPad session in a regional town is also being planned. Full details at To book, email ◆

velc victorian educational leadership consortium

Leadership summit I

N FEBRUARY leading US education research group McREL will run a two-day “summit” for school leadership teams in conjunction with the AEU’s training arm, VELC. Based on McREL’s “What Matters Most” framework — a tool for identifying areas that are most likely to have a positive effect on student success — it will look at how to lead change in schools and examine the features of good instruction. The second day includes three workshops. Participants can choose between sessions on “high reliability” in education, developing a purposeful community, or the effective use of technology in the classroom. VELC, the Victorian Educational Leadership Consortium, is one of the state’s leading providers of PD for principals, aspiring principals and school leaders. What Matters Most: Connecting Vision with Action will be held at Flemington Racecourse on February 23–24. More details can be found at ◆

Safety MATTERS Assessing the situation Janet Marshall OH&S organiser

Good risk assessment is vital to a safe working environment.


ANY AEU workplaces do not have a trained OHS manager. As a result, we receive many calls each day from members seeking definitive answers to health and safety questions. Where there are black-and-white rules or situations — questions about chemical or hazardous substances, or machinery and equipment for example — this can be easy. But sometimes callers are frustrated to hear us say: “It depends …” Exactly what it depends on is often whether the caller has carried out a risk assessment to gauge the hazards of a particular situation. There may not be a one-size-fits-all answer. Here are some typical OHS questions that fit this category. What is the maximum class size for teaching science? The VGSA 2008 says that schools should plan for the minimum practical class size given available resources. OHS and duty of care variables can include the layout of the classroom and bench space, the equipment in use, student maturity, and the nature of the activity. What is the staff/student ratio on an excursion? Ratios for some adventure activities are prescribed but OHS and duty of care variables can also be applied. Where are you going? What are you doing? How old are the students? Do any have special needs? What are the weather conditions? What back-up do you have? What is the maximum temperature we can work in? The WorkSafe Victoria compliance code says that buildings need to be capable of maintaining a temperature range that is comfortable and suitable to the work. But are you inside? Outside? Is there air-conditioning or a fan? Can you be relocated? What is the comfort/discomfort level? Is this different for different people? What is the school temperature policy? The water supply has been interrupted. Can we go home? The code says that clean drinking water must be provided and all employees must have access to clean and hygienic toilet facilities at all times. Can bottled water be supplied? Can temporary toilets be provided? Can neighbouring properties supply water or toilets? How long is the interruption? Can it be rescheduled? Consultation matters Crucial to all this is consultation between employers and employees. There must be consultation about identifying hazards, assessing risks and solutions. This is a two-way process. What is the OHS consultation process at your workplace? Where the consultation process breaks down or doesn’t result in required OHS action then the elected health and safety representative has powers to intervene. Union principles When assessing risks, it’s useful to apply the following union principles: • The highest standard of OHS is a right of all employees • The precautionary principle should apply • The work environment must be modified to eliminate the hazard at its source. The AEU works with sub-branches and HSRs to promote good OHS principles and outcomes. This means ensuring that you have an elected and trained HSR and established consultation and resolution procedures. ◆


inside the AEU

Member BENEFITS Apple special offers


TRAVEL AUSTRALIA AIREYS INLET BEACH HOUSE Two bedroom beach house available summer and off-season. Summer Rental: $980 per week / $140 additional nights. Off-season: $660pw/$140 pn (min 2 nts) Suitable four tenants (negotiable) Two bdrms; Lge living/kitchen; v. close ocean, cliff walk, shops, lighthouse, inlet. Contact Kate: kateherbert@netspace. or 03 9486 2222. 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. AIREYS-IN-THE-BUSH Three self-contained cottages on one site at Aireys Inlet. Ideal for groups of friends or individual families. Further details at or phone June on 0458 756 295. 10% discount for AEU members. 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 Website: BRIGHT Autumn Affair Cottages Beautifully presented 1 and 2 bdrm cottages an easy 5 minute stroll into township. Adjacent to the ‘Mountain to Murray Bike Track’. All amenities included. Visit 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.

MELBOURNE, CLIFTON HILL Elegant, furnished self-contained apartment (pet friendly). Mobile: 0418 389 074

ITALY — UMBRIA Apartment. Beautiful sunny 2 bdrm. Historic Centre Citta Di Castello €625pw 2p, €675 3-4p. 0414 562 659

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TRAVEL INTERNATIONAL driveEUROPE Peugeot Citroen Renault 2011 European specials out NOW Our 37th year of service to the European traveller. Email: enquiries@ (02) 9437 4900 FRANCE Five cottages for rent. Provence, Dordogne, Burgundy, Ile de France. Only $1175 pw. Contact FRANCE — LANGUEDOC Two renovated stone houses in tranquil village near Carcassone, sleep four or eight, from $600 a week. See website at www.frenchrentalhouses.; or phone (02) 4757 1019; 0414 968 397; email 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. FRANCE — SOUTH WEST Renov 17thC 2 bdrm apart in elegant Figeac, “centreville”, or cottage in Lauzerte, 12thC hilltop village. Low cost. montfigeac/ or les-chouettes/ Ph teacher owner (03) 9877 7513 or email jimmcdon@ for brochure. ITALY — FLORENCE Beautiful fully furnished apartment in historic centre. Sleeps 2-6, $1,700 pw, telephone 0419 025 996 or

RESEARCH INTO CHILD ABUSE — your help needed


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 taped interview. To protect confidentiality they will be asked only about general aspects of events and ­pseudonyms will be used for all participants, pupils and schools. Any identifying details will be held separately from data collected. Incidents must have occurred since 1994 when mandatory reporting began. To take part, email ◆


aeu news | december 2011

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: Email: SOUTH OF FRANCE Lovely village house in the “heart of a wine growing region.” Julie 0403 314 928

NOTICES EASTER VIETNAM TOUR Hanoi, Halong Bay, HoiAn, Nha Trang, Mekong Delta, Cu Chi Tunnels and Saigon. Lots of tours and down time. School visits, tax claimable. $3397 pp Twin. 14 days. 03 5821 9493 or 0431 359 283. Ask about tours to China, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand. Volunteer Teachers wanted to work in Siem Reap. (T. Tremellen Shepp High) EMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE Expertly written Selection Criteria & Resumés for all job applications. Ph: 0415 440 134 Email: HELP NEEDED An Australian based charity requires one AEU member to sponsor a poorly paid Nepali school teacher to undertake a 3 month Teacher Training program, and then for you to be willing to be interviewed by the AEU in 6 months time about your Nepali sponsorship experience. Our ultimate goal is to raise awareness of our program in a future AEU News’ article. To sponsor a Nepali teacher is $175.00. Please email or visit


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FUNDRAISING with Little‘smart’Artists Let your kinder or school’s Little ‘smart’ Artists make you money. Kids can now have their artwork put on a 100% Australian made t-shirt and your kinder/school makes a percentage from every t-shirt sold. Requires minimal work on your behalf. Contact au or 0431 995 165 (Meri) (MPS) MELBOURNE PROPERTY SOLUTIONS VENDOR ADVOCACY — SELLING YOUR PROPERTY? Take away the stress and engage an independent advocate and a former teacher and AEU member. There is no cost when using Melbourne Property Solutions, as the agent you select pays (MPS) a set percentage of the fee from their total commission. Mark Thompson, Licensed Estate Agent Melbourne Property Solutions. Buyer and Vendor Advocate Services. Ph 0409 958 720 Email: Website: 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: $24.95 includes postage. RETIREMENT VICTORIA Visit us at 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 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 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 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 Migration Agents Registration No. 0213358.



TALKING Paddy Kendler

Flying Foxey’s


EGULAR readers of The Age’s Epicure supplement will be familiar with the dispatches from the vineyard penned by Tony Lee. Tony and brother Michael operate Foxey’s Hangout at Red Hill on the Mornington Peninsula, one of the very best winery destinations in the region. While producing some serious pinot noir, chardonnay and sparkling, the Lees have also just launched a cheaper “entry-level” wine, the Red Fox Pinot Noir 2010 ($20), which was awarded three trophies at this year’s Victorian Wine Show. Tony admits to being surprised at the notable show success but all power to the judges: there should be more wines like this; a fruit-driven, simple, light-bodied red chock full of fruity cheer and ideally suited to warm weather drinking. As a value buy, there is no better option in the lighter red category on the market (phone 03 5989 2022). Also check out these new releases: ZONTE’S FOOTSTEP CANTO DI LAGO SANGIOVESE BARBERA 2010 ($22): This is a very reliable label, largely based on fruit grown in Langhorne Creek. In this case, combining the two Italian red varieties achieves a delicious harmony. May be hard to track down but well worth the effort. Email HEWITSON MISS HARRY 2010 ($24): Dean Hewitson’s reds are very special. Miss Harry is a Barossa blend of grenache, shiraz, mourvedre, carignan and cinsault — a Rhone Valley fruit salad — and it’s just about as good as it gets within this style in Australia. Both sweet and savoury characters to be relished. Email YERING STATION LITTLE YERING CHARDONNAY 2010 ($17): Top value here from one of the leading producers in the Yarra Valley, an easydrinking chardonnay featuring precise varietal fruit and minimal oak influence. A pinot noir under the same “Little” label is also worth more than a passing glance. Email O’LEARY WALKER WATERVALE RIESLING 2011 ($17.50): A brilliant example of one of our classic wine styles, Clare Valley Riesling. Enticing floral and citrus aromas, crisp and lively palate, and clean, fresh finish with balancing acidity. Super summer wine! ◆

Limping to the finishing line I

AM suffering from that special type of tired that only hits at this time of year. You know the type of tired I mean — footdragging, eyelid-drooping tired. The sort of tired that only manifests itself after a year of dealing with students, their parents, a ridiculous number of meetings, challenging co-workers and marking more than your body weight in assignments, tests and essays. No amount of caffeine is going to snap me out of it — only the promise of holidays and the prospect of gradually dwindling student numbers are keeping me going. “Brenda’s already wearing her Santa t-shirt and reindeer antlers.” “That’s a bit keen.” “Yeah, but it does remind you that Christmas is just around the corner.” “I think she has worn the same t-shirt and antlers for the last few years.” “I remember when she got them. It was 2005. The year Jenny went off on maternity leave.” Brenda works in the front office and is not known for her sparkling personality. Her dull expression and blunt comments across the counter contradict her festive appearance. Many teachers are excited by the prospect of attending their partners’ elaborate Christmas functions at big hotels in the city or beautiful restaurants. Private companies spare no expenses when it comes to wining and dining their valued staff. This is not the case at our school. Our end of year function is held at school. We pay to attend. And supply our own beverages. It is also a fancy dress event. Some people take this very seriously. “Have you been to the costume hire place yet?” “Um, no” I say, lifting my head out of my reports. “I can’t decide if coming as a naughty nurse would be inappropriate.” “It might be better to stick to something that nobody can be offended by.”

“Would you go halves in a horse costume with me?” Probably not. With the end of Term 4 almost sitting on Christmas Eve, Victorian teachers will have just about no down time before the big day. In between juggling end-of-year curriculum and trying to plan for 2012, we’ll all be writing Christmas lists and, while on yard duty, negotiating on mobile phones with family members over which salad we will make. Some families may receive recycled gifts from teacher relatives this year. The thought of braving the shops is just too challenging after wrangling a roomful of Year 8s working on electricity assignments in a computer room where the technology fails. In fact, Boxing Day may well be the first day teachers can fall in a heap and reflect on the year that was and the absurdity of having to pay to attend one’s end of year party. But that would be forgetting the real spirit of Christmas. There will be no bah humbug from me. Happy Christmas. ◆ Comedian-slash-teacher Christina Adams will be taking a tasty and enticing Salade des Leftovers to her Christmas lunch.



Harvest festival By children, for children, a young version of literary journal Harvest has introduced a group of students to the joys and trials of publishing. Rachel Power AEU News


PPER primary students donned their cardboard “eagle eye” specs and learned to wield the red pen in a new program that teams them with industry professionals to create a literary journal by and for kids. The result, early harvest, is a publication bursting with fresh and funny writing and drawings from kids aged 8–12, together with submissions from some of Australia’s most-loved children’s authors and illustrators, including Terry Denton, Sally Rippin, Bernard Caleo and Paul Collins. “I can’t think of any other Australian publication that offers what


PANIC David Marr Black Inc. RRP $29.95, 262pp FAIRFAX journalist Marr’s theme for this compendium of reworked articles is the series of moral panics he has watched grip Australia over 15 years, from the rise of Pauline Hanson to the current attempts by the ALP and Coalition to out-bastard each other over refugees. In that, it forms a nice counterpoint to another Black Inc book by another Fairfax journo, Peter Hartcher’s The Sweet Spot, which tells us we’ve never had it so good (but forgets that one of the reasons we’re relatively well off is that John Howard persuaded us that governments don’t really need to provide services like health and education). Marr arguably indulges in a bit of moral panic himself. But as he notes, “turning fear into panic is a great political art” too often practised today. This book is his attempt to to honour the victims and “a damaged country”. ◆  — NB


aeu news | december 2011

early harvest does,” Rippin said at the magazine’s launch last month. “I think it’s one of the most exciting publishing opportunities for young people today.” The project, supported by Maribyrnong City Council, comprised a nine-week series of workshops in which experts from the publishing industry acted as mentors for 14 Year 5/6 students from Melbourne’s inner-west. The young editorial board was guided through every aspect of producing a literary magazine, from putting out calls for submissions to providing constructive feedback, proof-reading, design and promotion. Guest workshops with children’s RAGNAROK AS Byatt Text Publishing RRP $23.95 208pp THIS slim volume is Byatt’s retelling of the sagas of the Norse gods, from the creation of the world to its end, seen through the eyes and imagination of a young girl evacuated to the countryside from the Blitz of World War II. The “thin child in wartime” — a young Antonia herself? — is given a copy of the Norse myths and finds refuge in its tales of Odin, Loki, Baldur and Asgard. Beginning with Yggdrasil, the tree at the centre of the world, and the Norns who weave their skeins of fate at its roots, Byatt tells the tales simply and clearly with a sense of dark foreboding, weaving in fragments of the girl’s own story and her responses to the myths that captivate her. But what makes it sing are her descriptions of nature; only Byatt could make a list of seacreatures read like poetry. ◆  — NB

Sybilla and Eliza from Footscray City PS at the launch PHOTO: RAFFAELE CAPUTO

publishers, authors, artists and book designers looked at the structure of a good story, cartooning, storyboarding and typography. Schools selected participants they thought would benefit most from the program. Among them were Sybilla McKeigh and Eliza Lucis, from Footscray City Primary. “It was harder than we were expecting; much more involved,” said Eliza. “I thought it’d just be choosing a few stories and putting a cover on it.” Sybilla agreed it was a tough job, especially choosing which pieces to include from the 48 entries from Grade 3 to 6 students across Melbourne. “We chose stories because they were really imaginative THE TRIP Dir: Michael Winterbottom MA15+ 107 mins Madman DVD

WINTERBOTTOM’S extraordinarily diverse career returns to the road movie, only this time it’s not the peoplesmuggling Afghan route but the back roads of the north of England in this peculiar and entertaining two-hander. Comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon (seen together in Winterbottom’s Tristram Shandy) play “themselves” on a week’s tour of posh country restaurants for a newspaper feature. Brydon is a lastminute ringer after Coogan’s foodie girlfriend decamps to the US. Largely composed of improvised car and dinner conversations, the result is a pen portrait of two friends engaging in a battle of comic wits: Coogan vain, insecure, selfish, with a roving eye and Brydon cheerful, settled, and annoyingly funnier. The actors in bit parts give the game away but this is a surprisingly funny slice of life — with terrific scenery to boot. ◆  — NB

and fitted really well with the theme, which was ‘secrets’,” she said. Early harvest was the brainchild of publisher Jenna Williams and teacher Lachlann Carter of Pigeons, a not-for-profit organisation that runs free writing programs for kids and provides classroom resources for teachers. Their inspiration came from a three-month internship at 826 Valencia, the children’s writing centre co-founded by Dave Eggers in San Francisco to give a voice to kids from varied backgrounds. On their return from the US, Williams and Carter approached Davina Bell, from literary magazine harvest (and an editor at Penguin), to propose a children’s issue. Community development worker Emma Hewitt came on board and together the group developed the early harvest program. “A lot of the time children’s writing exists in school and exists in the home but doesn’t get out there,” Hewitt said. “Giving kids the chance to create a publication they can hold in their hands, that looks smart and has beautiful illustrations, is a really amazing way of acknowledging their writing.” The team has started planning another series of workshops with a view to creating a second issue of early harvest. To purchase a copy, or to find out more, visit ◆

AEU NEWS is giving members the opportunity to win a variety of Australian resources for their school libraries from our good friends at Wakefield Press, Penguin Australia, ABC Books and Ford Street Publishing. To enter, simply email us at by 10am Tuesday, January 31, 2012. Include your name and school or workplace. Write “Win Teaching Resources” in the subject line. Prizes will be sent to the winner’s school or workplace with a special inscription recognising the winner. Good luck!

Wild Whiskers and Tender Tales by Ute Wegmann NO ORDINARY animal photo-book, Wild Whiskers and Tender Tales is a unique celebration of endangered Australian wildlife and the astonishing efforts of impassioned carers to protect them.  — RRP $29.95, Wakefield Press My Uncle’s Donkey by Tohby Riddle MY UNCLE’S Donkey is allowed in the house and you should see what he gets up to... — RRP $24.95, Penguin Australia

The Boy and the Toy by Sonya Hartnett, illustrated by Lucia Masciullo ONE day a man invented the best toy in the world and he gave the toy to his son. The boy thought the toy was marvellous. It could do anything! But as time passed the boy started to wonder about the toy. Was it really the best toy in the world? The Boy and the Toy is an unforgettable tale that explores the meaning of friendship.  — RRP $24.95, Penguin Australia The Goannas of No.1 Martin Place by Vicki Steggall, illustrated by Danny Snell WHEN Moreton and his parents, Go-ma and Go-pa, leave their home in Sydney’s Botanic Gardens, they decide they need to move somewhere high above the ground, away from all the humans. When they discover the little sun-filled room at the top of the clock tower at No.1 Martin Place, the family are sure they’ve found the perfect home. But the Pitt Street Cat rules Martin Place and he’s not interested in welcoming new neighbours. Can the goannas tame Australia’s meanest cat? — RRP $24.99, ABC Books The Key to Starveldt by Foz Meadows SOLACE and her friends seek to unravel a cryptic prophecy. They travel to the Rookery, an other-worldly place governed by the enigmatic Liluye. Magical and wild, the Rookery tests them all in preparation for the crossing to Starveldt. Rather than being a paranormal school romance, The Key to Starveldt focuses on relationships in a group environment outside school and the way different friendships emerge. — RRP $19.95, Ford Street Publishing

Congratulations to our winners from AEU News issue 7 2011: Shake a Leg — Brodie Ralli, Parkwood Green Primary School; Ben 10 & Hero 108 DVDs — Maria Mavridis, Altona Meadows Primary School; The Horse Boy — Kasie Timms, Fountain Gate Secondary College; Skulduggery Pleasant: Death Bringer — Mara Simic, Bell Park North Primary School.

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Groovy, yeah! Act now and save! This is a limited offer restricted to the first 100 approved applications received before 31 January 2012. Contact us at or call 03 5127 0552 and quote ‘AEU Offer’ mecu Limited ABN 21 087 651 607 AFSL/Australian Credit Licence Number 238431 trading as bankmecu. Terms, conditions, fees and charges apply and are available on application. Loans subject to normal lending criteria and approval. Balance transfer excludes current balances with bankmecu and balance transferred must be a minimum of $150,000. Interest rate reverts to the Premium Home Loan $250k+ variable rate of 6.83% p.a. at the conclusion of the balance transfer period or to the Premium Home Loan $500k+ variable rate of 6.73% p.a. for balance transfers in excess of $500,000. Interest rates expressed as annual percentage rates. Variable loan rates correct as at the 15/11/2011, however are subject to change at any time. Check for the latest rates. *The comparison rate is based on a secured loan of $150,000 over 25 years. Warning: This comparison rate is true only for the examples given and may not include all fees and charges. Different terms, fees or other loan amounts might result in a different comparison rate.This offer is available only to current members of the AEU and restricted to the first 100 approved applicants. Applications must be received before 31/1/2012 and advanced by 31/3/2012. 32961AEU-B

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WIN teaching resources


The holidays are fast approaching...

...Is it time for a health insurance health check? Answer these questions to see how you fare: 

Does your health cover still suit your needs and budget?

Have you compared your current fund against other insurers?

Do you know that Teachers Health Fund offers some of the most competitively priced and comprehensive health insurance covers CMYK in Victoria?

Find out more at Teachers Federation Health Ltd ABN 86 097 030 414 trading as Teachers Health Fund VIC AEU-AD-1111

AEU News Issue 8 2011  

The AEU News magaizine for AEUVB members, Term 4, Issue 8, 2011.

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