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What your Government won’t tell you Mary Bluett branch president


AST year the Brumby Government announced major changes to the way vocational education and training are to be funded. While the greatest impact of these changes will be felt by our TAFE sector, there are important implications for secondary student pathways. The cost of vocational education will increase as the Government shifts the cost from government to students. Teachers seeking to undertake a TAFE course may also be hit and of course other family members may also be affected now or in future. Last year we launched a campaign against these so-called “Skills Reforms”. In November and December we ran TV ads featuring real TAFE teachers and students to get our message to the community. The Government is spending $16 million on paid media to promote the changes. Their “reforms” will see fees treble for diploma and advanced diploma students (from $877 to $1,500 now and $2,500 by 2012), concession rates for our most disadvantaged students (currently $55) removed at these levels, and HECS-style loans introduced. In addition, anyone who already has an equivalent or higher qualification (and that includes all teachers) must now pay the full cost of these courses — between $8000 and $16,000. Courses below diploma level are likely to be affected in the future. Funding for places will change and will significantly open TAFE to direct competition from private providers by making funding follow the student — vouchers! On Tuesday, July 27, we relaunched this campaign with a blitz of visits to TAFE campuses, and the release of poll results highlighting how little the community knows about all this. When the changes were explained, the poll showed 77% opposed them. This has generated considerable media coverage, particularly in regional Victoria where we have also embarked upon extensive television advertising.

The Brumby Government’s TAFE reforms will affect the students now in your charge — unless we act to reverse them.

We have also launched a new website — Check it out — and get active. We are carrying the campaign to secondary schools. Principals, career teachers and level coordinators have heard nothing of these changes from the Government or the Education Department and are concerned about the impact on students.

This is a campaign about the future of TAFE and those who depend on it for access to training and employment. The Brumby Government is on notice — we will campaign for as long as it takes in defence of TAFE and the hundreds of thousands of students who depend on it to improve their life chances. The TAFE changes are but one of the Federal Government’s initiatives that our state seems in a rush to implement. They are being driven by Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard and we are the only state implementing them. We are also trialling “performance pay” models and embracing “Teach for Australia”, putting graduates with just six weeks’ preparation in front of some of our most disadvantaged students. On both these fronts, the department is having great difficulty finding schools prepared to participate. In addition we have the league tables/transparency juggernaut. All this and we haven’t even got to the funding issues! These issues will be challenged up to, and beyond if necessary, the state and federal elections. ◆

AEU membership continues to grow Brian Henderson branch secretary


E NOW have over 40,526 members and our membership has increased by 54% in the decade since 1998. Our union continues to grow in strength as evidenced by our campaigning and our increasing membership across all sectors. Our growing membership increases our capacity to campaign and win as well as giving us a strong financial base now and into the future. This strong financial position has allowed us to provide immediate financial support for members and schools affected by our devastating bushfires

this year. The AEU has given assistance to 117 members and 15 schools to the sum of $439,600. This figure does not include the grant of $5000 which will go to each of the three schools that were totally destroyed in the February bushfires, once they are rebuilt. It is important that the union continues to grow and with this in mind we will be undertaking a review of the services that we currently offer to members, to add value to your union membership. If you have any suggestions for additional services please contact me at ◆

A E U h e a d o f f i c e 112 Trenerr y Crescent, Abbotsford 3067 Tel: 03 9417 2822 Fax : 1300 658 078 Web : u v i c . a s n . a u

Here come the new boomers T

ake a deep breath — a new baby boom is on its way. This graph shows the projected growth of 5-11 year olds in Victoria over the next few years. It means around 9,400 extra students each year for the next 15 years. By 2025, there will be almost 600,000 primary school-aged children in Victoria, compared to just over 450,000 today — an increase of a third. Given that 80% of these will attend government schools, it means that the primary schools budget will have to increase by $37 million each year from 2010. And approximately 358 extra primary teachers will be needed each year to cater for these children. These are official figures, from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. You can download the ABS spreadsheet at We can only hope the planning is in place. Over to you, Minister Pyke? ◆

Projected growth of Victorian population of 5-11 year-olds







2012 2014 2016





Education Support (ES) Week

August 10–14 is Education Support (formerly SSO)Recognition Week


his is one week in the year when we highlight the fundamental role ES staff play in our schools. All staff — principal class, teachers and ES staff — work together as a team to deliver high quality education in government schools across the state. Each of us plays an indispensable role in that team effort. We are asking sub-branches and principal class members to give recognition to the role of ES staff by organising an event or activity — morning tea or lunch, (AEU) red flowers or other small gift — during ES Recognition Week.




00bers 15mem

new this year


ES numbers count!


AEU organisers and elected officers will be out and about visiting schools during the week deliv-

ering AEU cups (red of course!) and lollypops. Not only are ES staff important members of the school team, they are also a growing part of the AEU. More than 1,500 new ES members have joined the AEU this year, contributing to our ongoing membership growth as we passed 40,500 members on July 1! Our AEU News magazine would love to hear stories of how schools celebrated the week and marked the contribution of ES staff. Send us your stories and photos. Make it a joint celebration of the work you all do for our students. Have fun! ◆ — Mary Bluett


RV will hold retirement seminars at the AEU Building on the following dates: Saturday 15 August at 10am; Tuesday 22 September at 10am (Holidays); Tuesday 29 September at 10am (Holidays) Bookings: Call Rhonda Webley on (03) 9418 4844.


Access to social security entitlements, including part pensions and concession cards, can make a real difference to retirement planning. Our clients are often surprised to find how a comprehensive, personal plan delivers significant benefits.


Primary newsletter | august 2009

Assessment overload For early years school teachers, new testing, assessment and reporting regimes are looming — and this year could just be the start. Will any teaching get done in Term 4?

Carolyn Clancy deputy vice president, primary


HE new Prep to Year 2 assessment of English program means that from October 12–23 our Prep, Year 1 and Year 2 teachers will be gathering data and not teaching. A major concern of the AEU, as it has been reported to us, is that intervention programs such as reading recovery are being cancelled to cater for this program. Having just concluded data-gathering for the Australian Early Development Index (AEDI), Prep teachers will have to join their Year 1 and 2 colleagues to conduct a mandated assessment — an English online interview which our members say takes up to an hour per student to conduct. A similar assessment will take place in March each year for the Prep children. We estimate that each teacher will need at least four days to complete the test. No extra funding has been allocated to schools to help implement this program, even though funds for CRT cover were provided to the 100 trial schools.

It is interesting to note that resources were provided to schools to cover the AEDI. Gathering data has become another strand of Victorian Essential Learning Standards (VELS). Policy makers need to take seriously the words of caution by Professor Richard Elmore — Professor of Education Leadership at Harvard University — that there must be a balance between gathering data to make the system accountable and gathering it for internal school accountability and use. On top of all of this, the regions are mandating that Year 2 (as well as Years 3–6) participate in on-demand testing. This takes place in some schools once per term. And there’s more: we have heard that the numeracy online interview which takes place at the start of the year in the early years will now be repeated at the end of the year. A diagnostic interview at the end of the year — what’s the point? One may ask, what is the reason for this data gathering? The answer may be NAPLAN by stealth in early years at a time of year when teachers are

Sign up to the AEU e-news

Keep up to date with the latest news about AEU campaigns and events, plus news from the union and social justice movement — and special giveaways — in the AEU’s ­fortnightly e-newletter. To sign up, go to — the subscribe box is in the top left corner.

completing their own assessment, reporting and planning for the next year. Needless to say, Prep teachers will also be reviewing the new transition from preschool development statements in November and interviewing preschool parents where appropriate. Will any teaching at all take place in Term 4 in the early years? ◆

Join us at the Teachers Games T

hinking about the next term break? Why not join your colleagues at the Teachers Games in Bairnsdale on September 20–23. The AEU is a major sponsor of the games, which have become a highlight in the education calendar. We will provide all participants with an AEU drink bottle and sports towel. Plus we’ll be hosting a range of social events for AEU members so you can meet your union, its staff and leadership and your fellow members, and have a sausage and a beer on us. There is a full program of events, from running, cycling and swimming to the leisurely pursuits of fishing and lawn bowls, plus team sports including basketball and netball. AEU members at the games will be eligible for a range of prizes and drink vouchers to assist with the fun. Register now at ◆


Making the most of your consultation structures Carolyn Clancy deputy vice president, primary


ES, it really is that time of year where sub-branches need to review their school consultation processes and structures. During August, sub-branches should be meeting to discuss what has worked or where changes need to be made to improve consultation in their school. Principals are required to notify the Education Department by September 1 of agreed structures. I stress “agreed”, because sub-branches should not feel they have to accept existing arrangements if they are dissatisfied with how they have been working. Getting the structure right is vital for making our agreements work. Effective consultation structures are the key to accessing more from the Schools Agreement and the Education Support Agreement. Such structures enable members to have a greater say in decisions at their school and provide a forum to ensure the rights of members. Local agreements Many schools have agreed arrangements covering such issues as: • How the third negotiated hour is used • How teachers and ES staff receive time in lieu for parent teacher interviews or camps

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• Agreed school starting and finishing times • Allocation of additional time release for consultative committee members • How graduates’ workload is reduced and mentors given time. And that’s to name just a few examples. However, many schools have reached local agreements on these issues, but don’t have these agreed arrangements documented. Negotiating and signing a local agreement is a valuable instrument in ensuring local arrangements are documented and stuck to. It also means that if there are staff changes at the school the arrangements are not lost. A number of primary and special schools are now taking the initiative and are developing local agreements. If sub-branches are interested in formulating a local agreement, the AEU can help. You should contact our Membership Services Unit or your organiser. Sub-branches should also refer to our two implementation guides — the Victorian Government Schools’ Agreement 2008 Guide and the ES Agreement Guide. Both give further information, and both can be downloaded from our website — look in the pay and conditions section at ◆

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Primary newsletter | august 2009

Primary Sector Newsletter, Term 3, 2009  

Primary sector newsletter term 3 2009