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PRIMARY SECTOR

NEWSLETTER SUPPLEMENT TO THE AEU NEWS • NOVEMBER 2009

Union to press department on

botched tests

The Education Department must cover the costs of schools who brought in extra teachers to deliver its new online English tests. Peter Steele, vice president, primary

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NGER and frustration are running high over the way the new Prep-to-2 online English test is being implemented, to judge from the many calls we have had from members. Members have reported extremely high stress levels caused by the need to radically change programs, timetables and budgets to implement an online program which was delivered by unacceptably slow software. AEU primary council on October 23 instructed the union to pursue talks with the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD) to provide financial support to schools who had to bring in relief teachers or face other expenses as a result of trying to run the test. To bolster our case, the AEU has asked members to express their concerns to the department by emailing studentlearning@edumail.vic.gov.au.

how they were able to implement this program and what effect it had on teaching and learning. The AEU will support members/schools that were unable to complete the English Online Testing, due to above issues, in the time mandated. The AEU calls on members to provide feedback about all aspects of the program to: studentlearning@edumail.vic.gov.au with a copy to the AEU at melbourne@aeuvic.asn.au. The AEU urges members to report incidences where the Agreement is being breached in order to implement this program. The AEU condemns the interference this testing has on the normal teaching program at schools and rejects the suggestion that the testing can take place at the same time teachers are conducting the morning literacy session. The AEU will continue to monitor this issue and seek to be involved in the review process set up by DEECD. ◆

The P-2 Online Testing resolution passed by primary council reads: The AEU notes that, despite being given assurances to the contrary, the response times with the English Online Interview software were unacceptably slow. The AEU also notes the apology for the disruption and impact on schools, staff and students issued by Darrell Fraser in [department memo] DEECD Main S489-2009 on October 15. The AEU advises schools that used Casual Relief Teachers during this period to apply to the Regions for compensation. The AEU has consistently argued that DEECD should provide resources to schools to assist in the implementation of this initiative which has been imposed on schools with little warning at a time when schools could not plan appropriately for its implementation. As part of the comprehensive review of this program the DEECD survey all primary schools about BRANCH PRESIDENT

Election results A

EU branch president Mary Bluett and branch secretary Brian Henderson have been returned for another three-year term in the AEU leadership ballot. The results announced on October 28 saw new deputies elected to the top two positions. Serving secondary sector vice president Meredith Peace was elected as branch deputy president, while current TAFE vice president Gillian Robertson was elected deputy secretary. They replace long-serving officials Ann Taylor and Christine Stewart respectively, both of whom stood down at this election. Carolyn Clancy has been elected as vice president, primary. Ms Clancy is currently deputy VP — James Rankin, the AEU’s graduate and student teacher organiser, was elected to that position.◆

DEPUTY PRESIDENT

Mary Bluett

6979

Michael O’Reilly

1945

Mary Merkenich

2560

Meredith Peace

7505

BRANCH SECRETARY

DEPUTY SECRETARY

Brian Henderson

7635

Phillip Cook

Unconfirmed

Norian Rundle

1838

Gillian Robertson

Unconfirmed

VICE PRESIDENT, PRIMARY

DEPUTY VICE PRESIDENT, PRIMARY

Carolyn Clancy

3275

Beth Ghioti

1656

Peter Curtis

1031

James Rankin

2651

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 : www.ae u v i c . a s n . a u


All eyes on Recruitment Online

This is the busiest time in the recruitment calendar. Whether you’re looking for a job, your contract’s about to end, or you’re an AEU rep, you need to be on your toes. Ken Sampson Membership Services Unit

ES Agreements stress that the main mode of employment should be ongoing employment. The AEU monitors ROL daily and all too often we see schools that advertise a large number of fixed term positions. When that happens, we contact the rep at the school, and one of the first questions we ask is, “Were these positions discussed at the consultative committee?” Another question we might ask is, “Could some of these fixed term positions have been ongoing?” And: “Is there a member of staff who could have been offered this contract instead of advertising on ROL?” The capacity to do this is set out in Clause 20(2)(c)(ii) of the Teachers’ Agreement and Clause 17(2)(c)(ii) of the ES Agreement. When we see ongoing positions advertised, a union officer might contact the school to ask if

there is a member who is eligible to be offered that position and seek to have that position withdrawn. A lot of angst could be avoided if eligible members were offered a further contract or ongoing employment, before ads were placed on ROL. ◆

Consultation arrangements are an important part of both the Teachers' Agreement (VGSA 2008) and the new Education Support Agreement. Schools were required to report to the Education Department by September 1 that such processes had been agreed with staff from Term 4. The reports that we have had indicate that there have been continued improvements in and awareness of consultation. A number of sub-branches reported that they had agreed structures but been unable to finalise their operational procedures — a good indication that members understand more than ever that simply having a committee is not enough; it has to operate effectively to allow proper consultation to occur. Some 99% of schools reported back to the department by the September 1 deadline and, of these, 99.3% indicated they had reached agree-

ment on consultative processes. The remaining 25 schools (15 which missed the deadline and 10 which didn’t reach agreement) were followed up by both the AEU and the department. The majority of those that didn’t reach agreement will be told to implement the default processes under the agreement. In a small number of cases, schools have been able to find a suitable agreed outcome. There were also a very small number of schools who reported that they had agreement, which the AEU sub-branch disputed — these have all been followed up and resolved. This process highlights the success of the consultative process — AEU members are now more aware of the importance of consultation and are working hard not only to get agreed composition of committees but effective operational procedures. ◆

L

OOKING for a job? Officer-bearer of an AEU sub-branch? AEU or staff rep on your school’s consultative committee? Then read on. It doesn’t matter whether you are a teacher or an education support officer, or whether you’re working in a country school or a metropolitan school; this term is the time when schools advertise the most on Recruitment Online (ROL). So if you are looking for a job, make sure you have a job search agent set up so you don’t miss out on that job you have been dreaming of. If you’re a rep on the consultative committee, you need to be on your toes. All job ads placed on ROL should be discussed by the committee. Reps should be aware that both the Teacher and

Having your say Arrangements for 2009‑10 suggest proper staff consultation is becoming embedded in school culture. Meredith Peace vice president, secondary

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EU members are now more aware of their right to have a say in important school planning decisions, and arrangements for consultation are improving. Those are the conclusions we can draw from the recent round of reporting on consultation in schools.

Be proactive

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F YOU are on contract, find out if you are eligible for a further contract or ongoing employment and, if so, make your request in writing. If you are a rep on the consultative committee, ensure that all ads for ROL are discussed before they are placed. Also check whether members of staff are eligible for fixed-term or ongoing positions before the ads are placed. ◆

SEMINARS

RV will hold retirement seminars at the AEU Building (112 Trenerry Cres, Abbotsford ) on the following dates:

THURSDAY 7 JANUARY 2010 at 10am (Holidays) TUESDAY 19 JANUARY 2010 at 10am (Holidays) Bookings: Call Rhonda Webley on (03) 9418 4844

Our seminars provide an insight into the development of a successful financial strategy for retirement. If you are unable to attend a seminar you are welcome to arrange a personal, complementary first appointment by telephoning (03)9820 8088.

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Primary newsletter | november 2009


Pay win for returning staff

The AEU has won pay rises for members who missed out on increments while taking family leave without pay. Meredith Peace vice president, secondary

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HE AEU has been pursuing a number of cases of members who returned from family leave or leave without pay (LWOP) earlier this year but missed out on their annual increment. Members affected all left on leave on or before May 1, 2008 and returned after January 1 this year. This meant that by the new common increment date of May 1 they had not clocked up four months’ service within the previous 12 months, and so were not eligible to step up the scale. In many cases this has meant their salary progression was delayed beyond 12 months without any compensation. Members will remember that staff who were due to receive an increment between January 1 and April 30 under the old system, received compensation for now having to wait until May 1 for their pay rise. The AEU has argued that staff on leave should not be treated differently to others in receiving either compensation or their increment, as in many cases they would not have been aware of the changes until their return. We have now reached agreement with the Education Department on a salary progression mechanism for the majority of this group. This does not apply to those who translated to a higher increment level

in the new structure. Principals must submit a list by November 16 of any staff who returned from leave this year. If you are one of them, talk to your principal or ring the AEU for advice. There will be two different arrangements for this group, outlined in DEECD Mail S475-2009 issued on 13 October — one for employees who were due to increment before May 1, and one for those who were due to increment after May 1. Before May 1 Teachers and education support staff who would have been eligible to step up the pay scale before 1 May will have any service immediately before they left on leave included as eligible service for this year’s cycle. Take for example, a person who worked in 2007 at A1 on the scale, took leave without pay from January 29, 2008 and returned January 28 this year. This person had completed 11 months on A1 before taking leave, but accrued only three months’ service in 12 on their return and so did not increment on May 1. Their 2007 service will now be recognised and they will increment with effect from May 1, 2009 — subject to the principal confirming that they are performing at the applicable level. They’ll also receive the compensation payment for the move to the ­common progression date.

F E D E R A L C A M PA I G N I N G

Your help is needed Ann Taylor deputy president

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HE AEU is campaigning on two key federal issues which will play a role in our federal election campaign next year. These two important issues are: • The Federal Government’s “transparency” agenda which will lead to league tables • The review into schools funding that will start next year. I urge you to read the articles in the current edition of the AEU News about the damage that league tables can do and help us to stop them affecting our schools. I also ask you to sign up at our federal campaign website www.forourfuture.org.au to get updates about funding issues and the campaign. The AEU is seeking the names of members who are willing to: • Be part of a group to lobby their local federal MP on these issues; and/or • Letterbox AEU materials in targeted seats or the local area. If you are interested, please email melbourne@aeuvic.asn.au. ◆

After May 1 Members who would have been due to progress after May 1, 2009 will now do so once they have completed 12 months’ eligible service — in effect, as if the old arrangements were still in place. Take for example, a person who incremented to A1 on July 30, 2007, took family leave from January 29, 2008 and returned on January 28 this year. They completed almost seven months’ service at A1 when they left, but only three months’ service in 12 on their return. They will now have their previous service recognised and progress this year after 12 months on A1 — subject to the principal confirming they are performing at the applicable level. These arrangements apply only to people returning from leave without pay in 2009. But the AEU has told the department we will pursue similar cases for members who return from longer periods of leave in 2010 and beyond. This will be particularly relevant for members on family leave. If you returned from leave this year and need help with these arrangements, please call the AEU for advice on (03) 9417 2822 or email melbourne@aeuvic.asn.au.◆

Exit strategy watch this space

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HE AEU has had initial discussions with the Education Department about the “Exit Strategy”, which formed part of the memorandum of understanding signed alongside the new Schools Agreement for teachers. The department is developing a proposal and hopes to have the strategy in place by late November or December. It will be a voluntary scheme conducted via application, with a payment expected to be in the order of $50,000. The department has committed to replacing departing teachers by giving ongoing ­employment to teachers currently on fixedterm contracts. Further details will be provided as the strategy is developed. ◆

www.aeuvic.asn.au

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Union Climate Connectors — sign up now! Meredith Peace vice president, secondary

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NIONS have a proud history of campaigning on environmental issues. But rarely have the stakes been as high as they are now. The Copenhagen climate conference is only a month away (December 7) and our Federal Government is currently debating what kind of Emissions Trading Scheme we will have. The AEU is committed to being part of the solution to the climate change crisis. By connecting together as workers we can build a clean economy that will be safe and prosperous for future generations. This union is aware of the high level of interest from members in environmental issues, ranging from international developments in the lead-up to Copenhagen, through Australia’s own climate change legislation, to — most importantly — the programs and curriculum initiatives happening dayby-day in our own schools and workplaces. The Union Climate Connectors campaign has been developed by Australian unions, including the AEU, and the Australian Conservation Foundation

to give workers an opportunity to get involved and make a lasting difference to the planet. The big polluters are spending millions to defeat us, but while we can’t match their dollars we can use our networks to mobilise thousands of citizens in Australia and worldwide. To sign up, go to www.climateconnectors.org. In addition the AEU has set up a members’ e-newsletter on environmental matters, keeping you informed of initiatives in your workplaces and in your union, and giving you a chance to share what is happening where you work. The environmental e-news will include up-to-date information on current issues affecting members and their workplaces. We would also welcome input from members to highlight the work you are undertaking locally or issues that you are interested in. To join our email group, please send your email address to ann.dettenberg@aeuvic.asn.au. If you want to find out more, please ring me at the AEU on (03) 9417 2822. We have a real opportunity to get active and make a difference to the climate crisis — here’s your chance to be part of our union campaign. ◆

School mergers — know your rights

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HERE are considerable numbers of schools who have made decisions to merge — many of them from the start of 2010. There are also some small schools closing. The AEU has negotiated a memorandum of understanding with the Education Department to protect staff (both teachers and education support) who are going through the merger or closure process. If you are not aware of an MoU for your school, or if it has not been explained to staff — or if you have any concerns at all about your merger or closure, please contact your AEU organiser or call our Membership Services Unit for advice. Call (03) 9417 2822 or email melbourne@aeuvic.asn.au. ◆

What’s the AEU doing about climate change?

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HE 2009 AEU Branch Conference updated our climate change policy to reflect the significant changes which have occurred since 2007. We have begun looking at our own practices and trying to reduce our carbon footprint. We conducted an extensive greenhouse gas emissions and energy audit, which has helped us identify the major contributing factors — not surprisingly, energy use (electricity) contributes over 50% of our emissions. The next stage will be to draw up an action plan to reduce both our energy use and our total emissions. As a relatively small organisation in business terms, and a low emitter, we will not have to report under government legislation on our emissions; however we still have an obligation and moral duty to do everything we can on behalf of our members to reduce the impact we are having on our planet. Further reports will be provided to members as this work takes shape. In addition, the AEU has instigated a range of discussions with the Education Department on sustainability issues. The three main areas we have focused on are infrastructure, curriculum and the government’s corporate responsibility to make schools as sustainable as possible. We have experienced some frustration at times in making the department understand why a union would be interested in sustainability issues. However the secretary of the department, Peter Dawkins, has agreed to a round table discussion with key environmental education groups to explore what might be possible and how we can improve on the current programs available. We are hopeful that this will result in positive changes regarding sustainability across the department and within our schools. ◆  — Meredith Peace

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Primary newsletter | november 2009

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