NEWSLETTER SUPPLEMENT TO THE AEU NEWS • JUNE 2014
Entitled to condemn
Abbott and Hockey have turned their back on public schools with a budget that recasts the right to education as a privilege. Justin Mullaly deputy president
REASURER Joe Hockey says the federal budget brings an end to the “age of entitlement” but since when has access to high quality public education been an entitlement and not the right of every child? I guess since the election of the Abbott Government and its need to justify massive cuts to public education. The Treasurer went on to say in his budget speech that we need to “build an education and training system that becomes the envy of the world”. How this budget can deliver on this aspiration beggars belief, when it will do nothing to lift overall student performance or close achievement gaps between advantaged and disadvantaged students which are among the highest in the developed world. School funding will be cut from 2018 by reducing indexation to the level of CPI (predicted to be 2.5% in 2018–19) after enrolment increases are taken into account. This contrasts with the Victorian Gonski deal — agreed by the Commonwealth and the Napthine State Government — that provided for indexation of 4.7%. This change will see school funding cut by more than $5 billion a year by 2024. The Abbott Government’s failure to fund the Victorian Gonski agreement beyond 2016–17 and this cut to indexation means the Prime Minister has turned his back on public schools and their students. Victorian schools will lose in excess of $1.6bn in 2018 and 2019 alone. The cuts will significantly affect students from low-income households, students with disability, students from regional areas, Indigenous students and students from non-English speaking backgrounds. In a speech sponsored by the AEU at Melbourne University in the week following the federal budget, David Gonksi who chaired the 2011 review into school funding that carries his name expressed his disappointment at the Federal Government’s failure to see the reforms through to their conclusion. He called
on the Government “in the period between now and 2017 … to change the presently budgeted position”. … but chaplains are safe The budget was accompanied by heavy rhetoric from Hockey and Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne that it is for states and territories to decide their funding priorities and the programs provided to schools. Despite this, the budget found an additional $245.3 million over five years for the School Chaplaincy Program — and ended the provision that allowed schools to appoint non-religious pastoral care workers. The new funding requires religious chaplains only. As The Australian newspaper noted, “your school might struggle to find the money to keep its specialist literacy teacher, but, rest assured, the Abbott Government has ensured it can probably keep its chaplain”.
UT Education 1st is a statewide campaign for increased investment in public schools. As part of this campaign we are highlighting the devastating cuts the Napthine Government has made to public education including: • Cuts to Reading Recovery tutors, literacy and numeracy support officers, Koori specialists and VCAL coordinators • Education Maintenance Allowance payments, school start bonus and apprentice trade bonus • Support for schools through decreased regional offices/staff. Victoria is the lowest spending state on public education per student, spending $1,881 less than the national average and $1,777 less than NSW.
The chaplaincy funding stands in contrast to the broken promise on funding for students with disability, with a meagre $57.7m allocated nationwide for 2014–15 and nothing for future years. Other measures included in the budget were $11m over two years to promote the teaching of languages, and $5m over four years for science education programs. All this means that the AEU will vigorously pursue the I Give a Gonski campaign throughout the life of this parliament to ensure that public education is the number one political issue at the next federal election. Please get involved — sign up as a supporter at igiveagonski.com.au, email your Federal Liberal or Nationals MP or phone the Prime Minister’s office directly on 02 9977 6411 and leave a message that our students deserve a government that will invest in their future. �
Put Education 1st is calling on all major parties to commit to our action plan for public schools in Victoria: 1. Reduce class sizes in upper primary and secondary schools 2. A curriculum that meets the needs of all students 3. More individualised support for all students 4. All students educated in up-to-date classrooms and facilities 5. Support and development for school leaders and staff. We believe that all children deserve a high-quality education — regardless of their background. Victorian schools require a fairer, more consistent funding system that better meets the needs of each and every child. We need to provide every child with every chance. We have launched our new website puteducation1st.com.au. We have rolled out TV ads which Continued on back page
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P&D: Take your time and consult Implement this process at your school in the way the DEECD should have done — gradually.
Erin Aulich vice president, secondary
HE Education Department released the final versions of its performance and development guidelines for principals and teachers on May 7. ES guidelines have been deferred to the 2015–16 cycle. Despite what you may be hearing, 2014 should be treated as a transition year. It’s important that schools allow staff the time to familiarise themselves with the new guidelines — and don’t panic and rush through change in one of the busiest assessment and reporting terms of the year. The AEU encourages members to continue to work collegiately, share goals and evidence so that workload is not duplicated. All aspects of the P&D guidelines must be subject to consultation on every school’s consultative committee and any other consultative forums the school may have. It is important to seek final advice and feedback from the committee before making decisions about key elements of the changes. The timeline for implementation will be key in supporting staff — including principals — to manage the workload the changes create. The AEU supports quality P&D for teachers, principals and education support staff through a
Secondary newsletter | june 2014
process that focuses on developing staff knowledge, skills and practice and is fair, evidence-based, transparent, properly resourced and supportive. All teachers, principals and ES deserve access to timely and appropriate professional development and the resources required to enable genuine reflection on their work. Improvements won The new guidelines have several significant professional shortcomings, and are being introduced without the time needed or the resources required. Despite these concerns it is important to recognise that the AEU has ensured that several elements have been removed from the final model. The AEU’s Federal Court action against the Government in November and the consultation required by the Victorian Government Schools Agreement 2013 mean that the new guidelines no longer include a quota or percentage of staff who may receive a successful outcome: the “guiding range” has been abandoned. While weightings are still a part of the new process, we were successful in removing the heavy emphasis on the student outcomes (or, for principals, on school outcomes) — although the emphasis is still too strong and the focus misplaced.
The focus is now on staff development rather than evaluation; it requires reviewer and staff member to agree the goals, weightings and evidence to be used. The five-point differentiated scale is now a three or four-point scale. The AEU remains strongly opposed to any scale. Importantly the new guidelines now include a transition period. Teachers need not set an explicit student outcomes goal for 2014–15; they can instead set an umbrella goal of developing a goal for the 2015–16 cycle; and they will be given longer to finalise their plans. And teachers and principals no longer need to meet both their goals and the Australian standards for teachers (or schedule B accountabilities for principals) in order to have a successful outcome. Shortcomings remain Student and school outcomes are rightly the key focus of all educators, but the AEU does not support the creation of an isolated student/school outcomes dimension in the performance and development process. This new element misconstrues the proper consideration of student and school outcomes as evidence of staff effectiveness in terms of professional knowledge, practice and collaboration.
HE AEU holds significant reservations about aspects of the guidelines, including: • The school/student outcome dimension • Differentiated performance ratings • Lack of resources including training for reviewers • Inadequate timeline • Workload impact on teachers and principals • Lack of clarity around the online assessment tool.
Nor does the AEU support the inclusion of a differentiated performance assessment for teachers and principals. Staff want genuine, personalised feedback that reflects their practice and the school community in which they work and that addresses their developmental needs. They do not want their work reduced to a simplistic and inappropriate rating which threatens the collegiate, professional culture of our schools. The expectation that principals can simply adopt the new P&D format does not take account of their need to understand the new process as it applies to them let alone the management of a new process for assistant principals and teachers. The department’s timeline is grossly inadequate and means that schools will need to reconfigure their meeting schedules to enable staff to finalise their performance and development plans. This work should not be undertaken as an add-on; instead, designated time should be allocated. How much time will depend on the starting point of schools and the needs of staff. Find out more at www.aeuvic.asn.au/pdp. �
FIND OUT MORE
OHS training: complete in working hours only
OHS training is a good thing, but the department shows bad faith in dumping it at short notice on overloaded schools. Carolyn Clancy deputy secretary
T IS disappointing and frustrating that the education department has yet again placed new requirements on schools and their staff without considering their existing workload. With schools in the middle of NAPLAN, assessment and reporting, and dealing with the overdue release of the new performance and development guidelines, the department notified staff that they must undertake new OHS e-learning modules by July 14. The AEU supports any initiative to increase knowledge and training in workplace health and safety but this should be done in normal working hours. Schools should have been informed of the OHS modules at the beginning of the
Continued from front page highlight the cuts and radio ads which outline the cuts to TAFE. A campaign blitz has begun, visiting schools in Melbourne’s southeast to raise awareness of the campaign among parents. School staff will join AEU organisers outside school gates to chat to parents about the issues for their local school and urge them to pledge their support for our action plan. This blitz will continue for six weeks in metro and regional areas of Victoria. What can you do? Join the campaign, make your voice heard. Go to www.puteducation1st.com.au and register your support, and ask your colleagues, friends and family to sign up too. �
year to allow them to schedule them in regular hours, through their consultation processes. To now expect staff to complete training by July 14 without any consideration of what schools have already planned not only devalues the work schools do but encourages a “tick and flick” mentality towards the training. The AEU will continue to take this issue up with the department. In the meanwhile schools should use their consultation structures to plan staff meetings or to release staff from duties to enable them to complete the training throughout the year. Download the schedule of OHS e-learning modules for 2014 at bit.ly/1mlfM3c (PDF). �
Cool Australia C
ool Australia is a not-for-profit organisation that provides curriculum-linked free resources for teachers and students. Its vision is for every Australian student to leave school with a clear understanding of our natural world, how it supports our existence and the responsibility we share to ensure it is valued and invested in. Cool Australia creates original units of work and learning activities that can be quickly downloaded from its website and taken straight into the classroom. Learning activities are year-level specific, from prep to Year 10 and linked to Australian Curriculum standards. For older students, there are inquiry-based learning activities that seek to broaden and deepen their understanding of how our world works. For younger students, topics are explored through literacy, numeracy, social awareness, creativity and imagination. A new section on the Cool Australia website is titled Cool Burnings. This section has some great activities linking climate change, sustainability and connection to land. Find out more at coolaustralia.org. � Educating for a sustainable future
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Secondary newsletter | june 2014