NEWSLETTER SUPPLEMENT TO THE AEU NEWS • MAY 2009
Mary Bluett branch president
HE State Budget was handed down on Tuesday, May 5. It was developed and delivered in the context of one of the most significant economic downturns, globally and nationally. In the run-up to budget day, the AEU met all the relevant ministers and Treasurer John Lenders to lobby them around our budget submission (you can read it on our website at www.aeuvic.asn.au/ professional). To aid our lobbying, we sent our State of Our Schools survey to principals across the state in March to collect data to back our case. In the current financial crisis, we prioritised our demands — rebuilding and improving our school facilities, welfare support and increased equity funding to address disadvantage. The SOS survey results were released on April 24 and received statewide media coverage. Some key findings include: • 83% of schools had not begun building projects under the Building Futures program • 75% had urgent maintenance needs • 69% of principals rated student welfare support as poor or very poor • 57% said funding failed to meet the needs of disadvantaged students in their schools. These results, and media coverage, strengthened our lobbying efforts. The 2009 state budget was a solid education budget in the economic circumstances. The centrepiece was the allocation of $402 million to rebuild or modernise 113 state schools across the state. This is in addition to the Federal Government’s stimulus package which delivered almost $700m in school building initiatives. Almost 400 additional schools will now be involved in new projects under the federal programs. The AEU welcomes the fact that the State Government has brought forward funding under the
Our State of Our Schools survey made the case for accelerating Victoria’s building program — and the Brumby Government has responded. four-year $1.9 billion program it promised at the last election. In conjunction with the federal program, this delivers the most significant infrastructure funding injection. The Government is on target to deliver or more likely exceed its commitment to rebuild or modernise all government schools by 2016. The focus on infrastructure will provide students with access to high quality educational facilities as well as stimulate the Victorian economy and maintain jobs.
The AEU also welcomes the following additional funding for education: • $38m for a range of education reforms to support literacy and numeracy, teacher quality and closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students • An additional $9m to reform early intervention and ongoing support services for children and young Victorians with disabilities or developmental delay • $13.8m for a new program to help secure training places for up to 6,400 Victorian workers who want to retrain or who are in industry transition. Next year is a state (and probably federal) election year. We are developing a campaign that will focus on the many unmet needs of our schools. The State Government still maintains that education is its Number 1 priority. We will test that claim. ◆
New pay limits imposed Brian Henderson branch secretary
UBLIC sector unions were called to a meeting with Victorian Treasurer John Lenders and Industrial Relations Minister Martin Pakula on March 27 to hear them announce a new Victorian Government wages policy. The new policy is set in the context of the global financial crisis and expected trends in inflation. It sets wages outcomes at 2.5% compared to the Schools Agreement framework minimum of 3.25%. There is no timeline on the policy, with the ministers stating that it will be reviewed in the light of changing economic circumstances. The meeting was called to forewarn unions that any negotiations under the current policy had to be
concluded with a “heads of agreement” setting out costs and productivity offsets before 11.59am on Monday, May 4. The ministers also emphasised that any agreements concluded in this window would have productivity offsets rigidly enforced on a dollar-fordollar basis compared to previous agreements. The deadline and productivity requirements placed a new set of pressures on unions that still had outstanding agreements in the public sector. These included the AEU, which was still to conclude continued on page 4 ➠
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Teach for Australia? Don’t we all? How will six weeks’ training prepare bushy-tailed graduates for our toughest schools?
Meredith Peace vice president, secondary
HE Federal Government launched its Teach for Australia initiative on April 21, to be introduced first in Victorian schools in 2010. Federal Minister for Education Julia Gillard, alongside Victorian Premier John Brumby and Education Minister Bronwyn Pike, launched the initiative which they claim will attract the best and brightest university graduates into the nation’s classrooms. It will see 75 high performing graduates recruited to teach in challenging public schools. They will attend a six-week intensive teacher training course before the start of the 2010 school year and then be allocated a school where they will spend 80% of their time in the classroom. The remaining time will be spent completing their two-year teaching qualification and business mentoring program. The graduates will sign up for a two-year placement and, based on UK and US programs, the government hopes many will continue teaching after it concludes. The new teachers will also have a business mentor as well as in-school support from an experienced teacher. The AEU federal executive in March passed a resolution “re-assert(ing) the AEU’s commitment to ensuring that Australian students are educated by qualified teachers who have completed an accredited teacher education qualification”. The executive also stated that such a program should only proceed on the basis that: • Participants meet registration requirements • They complete educational requirements for full registration within two years • The program is fully funded to reduce the teaching load for participants and provide payment or reduced teaching load for mentors • Employment is consistent with the relevant certified agreement.
The obvious concern is the proposition that participants will be ready to teach after only six weeks’ training, no matter how intensive. Our politicians have yet again fallen into the trap of suggesting that top graduates in programs such as these overseas have delivered better student outcomes and raised the status of the profession. Perhaps the status of our profession would be enhanced if our politicians stopped denigrating it for their own political gain. US research concluded that “certified teachers consistently produce stronger student achievement gains than do uncertified teachers. … uncertified Teach for America recruits are less effective than certified teachers, and perform about as well as other uncertified teachers”
(Darling-Hammond, 2005). The Victorian Government has indicated that schools will be funded to support mentors working with Teach for Australia participants — although exactly how much or how it is to be used is unclear. The whole initiative highlights the need for governments to think more carefully about the complex issues facing our profession, including teacher shortages and how to provide a high quality education for all. Perhaps they should try better resourcing for our schools as a whole (Victoria is still funded lower than the national average) and in particular giving greater levels of equity funding to support those students most in need. ◆
Curtain up on performance pay? V
ICTORIAN schools are likely to be the first to taste the Federal Government’s performance pay agenda, with a trial expected to be announced later this year. This is another plank of the CoAG (Council of Australian Governments) National Partnership agenda. Boston Consulting has been contracted by Canberra to develop possible models. The options include a standards-based accreditation system (most in line with the AEU’s professional pay model); non-monetary rewards; rewards for teams of teachers or regional networks; individual teacher rewards; and school rewards. As part of the consultation process, Boston Consulting has conducted a number of focus groups. There was strong response and engagement around the question of what attributes make an excellent teacher; however the evidence was not conclusive enough to determine which model might be most acceptable.
As a consequence, the Government is likely to trial a number of the options. Unfortunately the model preferred by the AEU around professional pay and meeting standards is too difficult and complex to trial, although this does not mean it is off the agenda. The two key models likely to be trialled include the individual teacher rewards and the school rewards. This initiative is one that the AEU will need to keep a close watch on. We do not want to see a repeat of past experiences, such as the Kennett Government’s individual performance pay, or the former Howard Government’s proposal to introduce performance pay without funding it. The AEU wants to see teachers paid appropriately for being outstanding classroom practitioners and we believe this is best done through a system of accreditation against professional standards. ◆ — Meredith Peace
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Secondary newsletter | May 2009
Victoria’s Holy Grail The Government believes its new e5 model is the key to better teaching in Victorian schools. AEU research officer John Graham explores and evaluates the evidence.
AVISHLY packaged and expensively produced, the curiously named “e5 Instructional Model” was launched by Bronwyn Pike, the Minister for Education, on April 3. The importance of this new framework to the Education Department is evidenced in the elaborate e5 publication which accompanied the launch. In its preface it describes e5 as “a working definition of what constitutes high quality instruction” and (therefore) “the holy grail” of the department’s system improvement strategy. The purpose of the e5 model, according to the document, is the development of a greater consistency in the quality of teaching across government schools. It will do this by providing “a common language for professional conversations, classroom observation and school-based professional learning” and by acting as “an organising framework to improve teaching practice”. The name — e5 Instructional Model — is a marketing device which reflects the framework’s origins in the United States. The conceptual framework was derived from the American Biological Sciences Curriculum Study’s 5E Instructional Model. The Victorian version has the same five Es — engage, explore, explain, elaborate and evaluate — and has also opted to retain the American term “instructional” rather than the more familiar “teaching and learning”. But Victoria’s e5 model is a far more elaborate framework than its American parent. It has “domains”, “capabilities” and four proficiency levels. The domains are the five Es. Their order (from engage to evaluate) derives from a teaching and learning sequence in the original model. A rough description goes like this: Engage: The teacher stimulates interest and curiosity, elicits a student’s prior knowledge and makes links between past and present learning experiences. Explore: The teacher provides learning activities which serve to identify current concepts and misconceptions and facilitate conceptual change. Explain: The teacher directly teaches relevant knowledge, concepts and skills after students have demonstrated their current level of understanding. Students are guided towards a deeper understanding. Elaborate: The teacher challenges and extends students’ conceptual understanding and builds their
capacity to transfer and generalise their learning. Evaluate: The teacher evaluates student progress towards achieving the educational objectives and provides opportunities for students to assess their own understanding and progress. Each of the five domains is allocated up to four “capabilities”. These are defined as “a broad expected skill or knowledge that a teacher should be able to exhibit”. For example, the four capabilities under “engage” are: develops shared norms; determines readiness for learning; establishes learning goals; and develops metacognitive capacity. The third part of the model is a set of detailed “profile statements” for each domain. The statements are divided into four hierarchical and sequential levels. The lower levels are described as being precursors to the higher levels.
The function of the profile statements, according to the authors, is to show teachers what it looks like to improve their practice in each of the five areas. The rationale for the creation of four levels for each domain, with claims that they represent a sequential development in teaching capabilities, is less than compelling. Some of the sequencing appears artificial and there is a perceived arbitrariness in the way in which various statements are boxed together to form a level. As a general framework, the e5 model is a positive contribution to the dialogue about quality in teaching and learning and the professional development of teachers. Its limitations are reached when you treat it as something more important than this. ◆
Consultation: your right to know Justin Mullaly deputy vice president, secondary
NE of the most important roles for AEU and staff reps on your school’s consultative committee is to discuss and provide “final advice” to the principal about workload and other staffing issues that involve the long term planning and operation of the school. The capacity for reps to do this effectively relies on them having access to information about school finances, staffing levels and structures, and in some cases about individual teachers. From time to time, schools cite breach of privacy as a reason for not providing this information. The basic rule of thumb is that any information about an individual that is available publicly must be collated and presented to the consultative committee when required. The Schools Agreement mandates the provision of this information, which must be freely and openly available to help inform the advice given to the principal prior to decisions being made. If it isn’t, then it is a likely breach of Clause 11(6) of the agreement. The agreement requires that the provision of this information complies with the Victoria Informa-
tion Privacy Act 2000. The Act defines personal information as: …information or an opinion (including information or an opinion forming part of a database), that is recorded in any form and whether true or not, about an individual whose identity is apparent, or can reasonably be ascertained, from the information or opinion, but does not include information of a kind to which the Health Records Act 2001 applies. This means the consultative committee can request and must be provided with any and all relevant information about an individual’s employment which is otherwise publicly available. For example, when considering and monitoring teacher workload in light of the local or statewide agreement, the inclusion of a teacher’s name would not breach any privacy obligations. The agreement also limits the provision of personal information directly to the union. To avoid doubt, this is only a restriction on the provision of the names and contact details of staff employed by the Education Department or school councils to the union. Quality consultation requires free and open access to information — don’t let unnecessary concerns about privacy get in the way. ◆ www.aeuvic.asn.au
Recruit and win! O
VER 1000 education support workers joined the AEU during the recent ES agreement campaign — but strength lies in numbers and the AEU is determined to build on these gains. That’s why the union is launching its ES Numbers Count recruitment campaign with the prize of a $1000 Coles Myer gift voucher for one lucky member who signs up a new recruit to the AEU. Every sub-branch has been sent a poster and a sheet of stickers. When you sign up a new ES member, simply write your name, school and contact details on the sticker, place it on the new recruit’s application form (please don’t cover any vital information) and return it to the AEU. Closing date for entries is June 26. The stickers will be placed in a draw early in Term 3 to win a $1000 gift voucher at Coles Myer. This competition is open only to financial AEU members. For further information please contact email@example.com. ◆
Support and supervision What duties can education support staff be expected to perform? The clue is in the name. Carolyn Clancy deputy vice president, primary
HE new Education Support Agreement has done much to clarify the roles and responsibilities for teachers and ES staff around supervising students. The agreement says simply: “Supervision of students cannot be required except where it is an integral part of the employee’s position or involves supervision of students individually or in small groups, in controlled circumstances, where the responsibility for students remains clearly with a teacher.” This may require schools to reassess the roles they have assigned to ES staff. AEU sub-branches should discuss these changes and make recommendations to their consultative committee if needed. Duties of a teacher The ES Agreement also refers for the first time to the Education and Training Reform Act 2006 (Vic). The Act reinforces ES roles, saying they should “support teachers in the delivery of education
services with students, but must not perform the duties of a teacher”. The Act says any person not registered to teach or without permission to teach must not undertake the duties of a teacher. Penalties can be imposed both on the individual and on the person or body who employs them to teach. The Act defines a teacher as “a person who, in a school, undertakes duties that include the delivery of an educational program or the assessment of student participation in an educational program”. So ES employees cannot be responsible for delivering an educational program or for assessing students. The most important word to remember when reviewing the role of ES staff is in their title. They are there to support the education services. Schools need to discuss the roles and responsibilities of ES staff and must not place their ES staff in a precarious position that could breach the Act. To discuss these issues further, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com ◆
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New pay limits imposed ➠ continued from page 1 an agreement for early childhood members, and the CPSU which had to conclude an agreement for core public sector workers. The CPSU settled for a two-year agreement that will deliver 7.3% over two years and take them to a year after the next state election. This contrasts to the AEU Schools Agreement that delivered a base increase for all members of 7.61% over two years together with 2.71% increases for a further two years, which is above the new limit of 2.5% set by Government. The AEU Schools Agreement also contained higher increases through restructuring for teachers entering the profession and for teachers at the top of the scale. The AEU has concluded a heads of agreement in the early childhood sector that will see teachers entering the profession and at the top of the scale achieve parity with school teachers. This is a significant achievement in the context of early childhood being moved into the Department of Education and given the current financial crisis. It represents the achievement of long-held AEU policy. ◆
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Secondary newsletter | May 2009