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Where are the BIG IDEAS?

Labor has belatedly tried to make education a big election issue, but is haring off down the wrong track. The Coalition means cuts, cuts, cuts — and even the Greens seem missing in action. Mary Bluett branch president


S I write, we are still awaiting that big announcement which will generate some interest and enthusiasm for casting our vote on August 21. Education was a glaring omission from the Liberal Party’s campaign launch. We already knew about Tony Abbott’s $3.1 billion in education cuts, including trade training centres and computers in schools, whose impact will be felt greatest by government schools. More importantly, we knew Abbott is committed to the Howard SES funding model for schools, which sees 70% of federal funding go to non-government schools, because he thinks it “the fairest way to provide funding to private schools”. Of course the formula does not apply to all non-government schools. Howard’s funding guarantee means over 50% of them still receive more than the formula provides — over

$800 million more. (Justin Mullaly writes more on this on page 3.) Both the Greens and Labor had committed to a review of the flawed, inequitable SES model. But one of the most disappointing developments has been PM Julia Gillard’s announcement to extend the model for a further year, until 2014. This is nothing less than a cave in to private schools in an election that has little to do with principles and lots to do with desperation. Equally disappointing, the AEU was the lone voice in criticising this change. Despite AEU representations, the Greens did not respond to the Gillard announcement for over two days, finally issuing a press release late on the Friday. If Labor is re-elected, our agenda is clear: to maximise government school submissions to the funding review — and press Labor and the Greens (in an election-free climate) for real change.

Genuine welfare support Gillard also got it wrong in expanding the school chaplaincy program, adding 1000 positions to the 2,700 already in place — to the tune of $222m. This money should be used to meet the genuine welfare needs of our government schools and not be restricted to chaplains. We need those dollars in schools where they can pay for youth workers, welfare officers, counsellors — whatever the school needs. Right issue — wrong solutions On August 9, Julia Gillard responded to Abbott’s “education-free zone” with a raft of education policies. Unfortunately, she correctly targeted the community’s desire for investment and reform but came up with the wrong solutions: bonuses and competition for schools and teachers. The PM seems to think there are schools and teachers out there who

aren’t doing the best for their students but might be attracted by a bit of money. What’s really needed is for struggling schools to receive investment up front. Whether it’s on literacy and numeracy support, or special programs, or welfare support, or home-school liaison officers, we need to give schools the resources they need to support change, rather than saying, ‘Change first and we’ll give you a bonus at the end.’ The notion of competing for scarce education dollars is appalling and no substitute for proper funding. The AEU has lobbied the political parties hard for more announcements to invigorate public education supporters in this election. Let’s hope there is more to come. Otherwise there will be little choice other than to vote for the least worse, and that is not good enough. ◆

NEW AGREEMENTS: The journey starts here What changes would you like in your agreement? Now is your chance to have your say. Meredith Peace deputy branch president


T’S time to start preparing for the negotiation of new certified agreements for both teachers and education support (ES) staff. Your existing agreements both expire at the end of 2011. This is a great opportunity for all members to have

a say in what changes to our conditions of work we put to the Education Department. For the first time we will be developing logs of claims for teachers and ES members in parallel — a chance for both groups to gain a better understanding of each others’ conditions and to provide mutual support as negotiations get underway.

AEU joint primary and secondary council last month agreed a timetable for developing the logs, which we intend to serve on the department in December. Our starting point will be our existing agreements. These will serve as a draft for sub-branches to consider — we’ll be emailing them shortly to subbranch reps and posting them on the AEU website. continued page 2

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


Education is the biggest priority for voters in November’s state election; our updated Education for Everyone’s Needs policy will help us make it the top priority for parties too. Mary Bluett branch president


UR annual branch conference was held on Saturday July 31. Conference is our highest policy making body and its decisions guide union activities in the years ahead. Not surprisingly, key motions centred on the federal funding review and the state election. Conference was addressed by AEU federal president Angelo Gavrielatos on the former and by Minister Bronwyn Pike, Coalition education spokesperson Martin Dixon and Sue Pennicuik from the Greens on state issues. Our annual public benchmark poll in April revealed that Victorians consider education and health the two most important issues. This positions us well for the November state election. But there will still be much work to do to ensure public education is at the forefront of the campaign; that means little rest for AEU members after the federal election. This is a particularly critical state election for public education. That is why we have invested strongly in developing a 10-year vision for Victoria, Education for Everyone’s

Needs: New Decade, New Commitment, New Investment. We launched the policy on June 15, beginning a public campaign to challenge the political parties to earn the education vote.

The document is our platform against which we can hold parties to account. It will be supported by a significant statewide free and paid media campaign, with two new television advertisements to air from September to November. The AEU will also launch a new campaign website, enabling parents and the broader community to engage in the fight to get governments to invest in public education. Our poll found that most ­Victorians perceive state education as under-

NEW AGREEMENTS: THE JOURNEY STARTS HERE from page 1 The Fair Work Act The current agreements were negotiated under the Howard Government’s WorkChoices legislation. It prohibited a number of matters in agreements, including a direct role for unions in dispute resolution (grievances). Many of these matters were resolved with the department, but had to be included in a memorandum of understanding, not in the agreement itself. Under the new Fair Work Act, dispute resolution procedures can now include the AEU, and other matters such as disciplinary procedures can also be included. Some matters remain prohibited, however, including bargaining agent fees, clauses about right of entry to workplaces for unions and unfair dismissal rights (these are covered by their own section of the Act).


Secondary newsletter | august 2010

resourced. They agreed that: • Teachers do a good job in difficult circumstances (87% agreed) • Teachers should have more administrative support staff so that they spend less time on non-teaching duties (88%) • It is important for schools to have the resources to deliver a broad range of subjects (95%) • The Government must provide teachers with professional training and development (92%) • The Government should fund more special programs and settings for students with behavioural and emotional problems (90%). They supported iniatives such as: • More teacher aides to help with special learning difficulties (94%) • Better resources to cope with children with disabilities (94%) • Resources to remove disruptive students from class and give them special support and counselling (87%). Our ads will pick up these issues. Last state election, our Education

Get involved AEU sub branches are asked to review the draft logs of claims this term and put forward proposals for inclusion. This is your chance to let others know what conditions of work you want included in any new agreement — whether by varying existing clauses or by adding entirely new provisions. Sub-branches should forward their resolutions to their regional organiser (preferably electronically) by 5pm September 17. The organiser will collate responses and circulate them to schools and workplaces by October 8. Regional debate During Term 4, all resolutions from sub-branches in your region will be tabled and debated at regional meetings across the state. It is essential that all subbranches send representatives to their designated regional meeting.

for Everyone’s Needs campaign challenged parties to rebuild our dilapidated schools as a matter of urgency. The Brumby Government’s commitment of $1.9 billion for 500 schools as down-payment on a 10-year rebuilding program was proof of our campaign’s success. That was our “big ask” in 2006. Many other aspects of our vision have also been adopted since then — early childhood has moved into the Education Department and its teachers have won pay parity and recognition of the importance of preschool. Teacher assistants have been introduced into secondary schools, and welfare support into primary. Our “big ask” for this election focuses on the future of public secondary education in this state. Seven out of 10 primary students are educated in government schools, but only 59% of secondary. The past 10 years have seen an increase of around 40,000 secondary students — 30,000 have gone outside the public system. Rebuilding and rebadging public secondary education is a special case demanding an immediate focus. ◆

Associations, special settings, non-school work locations To ensure every member can contribute, we will hold centrally convened meetings of principal class members and working parties of teacher librarians, instrumental music teachers, and staff in specialist settings such as special schools, teaching units, language centres and visiting teachers. The dates and times of these meetings will be included in AEU News and published on the AEU website. Deadlines All submissions for the logs of claims must be received by 5pm, November 19. Joint primary and secondary council will meet on December 3 to finalise the claims for both agreements, to serve on the department and the Government. ◆

BACK-DOWN Justin Mullaly vice president, secondary



ITH little media coverage and nary a word from the Liberals or Greens, Julia Gillard has announced an extension of the flawed federal schools funding model. This cave-in to the private schools lobby is political expediency at its lowest ebb, and exposes the shallowness of the ALP’s support for public education. Under the guise of giving schools “the necessary certainty to plan their futures”, Gillard announced that a re-elected Labor government would extend the current funding formula for a further 12 months, until the end of 2013. It came in response to brewing dissatisfaction and threats from non-government school communities, based on their belief that the review would lead to more money being directed to government schools. It is no coincidence that the next federal election is due in 2013. The current formula delivers

two-thirds of federal school funding to non-government schools which enrol only one-third of students. This extension will see a further $800 million flow to some of Australia's wealthiest schools — at the expense of government school students. Despite Gillard’s announcement, the review into schools funding will continue, with the expert panel receiving submissions in the remainder of 2010. It remains unclear when the review will deliver its report to the Government. The Coalition’s education spokesperson, Christopher Pyne, has said that “if elected, the next Coalition government will take up the reins where the Howard Government left off” when it comes to education policy. A Coalition government would consider any sensible recommendations arising from the review, Pyne said, but would commit to using the current model into the future because it places the funding of nongovernment schools on a much more equitable basis than in the past! This means that the inequity in federal government funding to schools would remain under the Liberals until at least 2016. According to research by funding expert Dr Jim McMorrow, Associate Professor of Education, University of Sydney, if the current funding

formula is extended to 2016 by the Coalition, non-government schools would receive a funding increase of $2.3 billion, enough to employ 8,300 additional teachers. In contrast, government schools would receive $652m, enough to employ just 1,670 teachers to put in front of over twice as many students. These disparities will widen further under the Coalition. McMorrow’s research shows that by 2016 private schools would be getting $9.5 billion in Commonwealth general recurrent funding a year, compared to $3.1 billion for public schools. As a share of the cake, they would be getting over 76% of recurrent funding and government schools just 24% — and it’s predicted that government schools will continue to enrol 70% of students. To read the full report, download it as a PDF at As part of his research, Dr McMorrow commented that “the current review of schools funding provides the best opportunity for decades to take stock of the ways that public funding for all schools, from all sources, can best support quality schooling for all. “It would be helpful if both sides of politics supported the review process, and resisted the temptation to pre-empt or subvert its outcomes

with hastily-conceived pre-election commitments.” Cave in Gillard herself has described the current funding formula as “one of the most complex, opaque and confusing in the developed world.” Ironically, in June last year, she said that “the pattern of recent change had created an opaque, fragmented funding system and no clear national priorities for improvement, reform or accountability”. How quickly things change, Julia. It seems the only clear priority for Labor now is re-election — at the cost of decent funding for public schools. Gillard and her “path of least resistance” cronies would do well to consider the comments of former high court judge, the Honourable Michael Kirby, when he said: “The time has come for all citizens to make it clear that they demand an end to the underfunding of public education; where the future of the nation is chiefly written.” No matter the ALP’s election day myopia and the Coalition’s abandoning of public education — the AEU and its members will campaign to deliver a better funding system for Government schools. We must, for the educational opportunities of the students we teach depend on it. ◆

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CONSULTATION Carolyn Clancy vice president, primary

This means agreeing on more than just the composition of the committee. It should include operational procedures — such as the way staff reps are elected and their term of office; the frequency and timing of meetings; how items are placed on the agenda; how minutes are recorded, published and approved; and what matters have to be discussed.


AST month’s departmental email on schoolbased consultation was a timely reminder to review your consultation processes and structures. Principals must tell the Education Department by September 1 whether or not consultative structures have been agreed in their school. Sub-branches do not have to accept existing arrangements if they are unhappy with them. Effective consultation arrangements are the key to accessing more from the Schools and ES Agreements, giving you a greater say in decisions and a forum to ensure the rights of members. Department Mail S341-2010 (July 27) sets out the timetable, while the AEU’s Agreement Implementation Guides give further information. Both guides can be downloaded from the members' area of the AEU website — look under Your Publications. Consultation arrangements should get better each year — but only if members make it happen.

Get it in writing As well as agreeing on consultative structures, many schools make local arrangements on issues such as: • Selection panels • Long service leave policy • Yard duty supervision • Parent teacher interviews • Meetings and consultation • Staff absences • Professional development • School camps • Graduates and mentors

RULES James Rankin deputy vice president, primary


employees they should first look at appointing staff in an ongoing capacity, not on contract. Schools should offer fixed term positions only if they can demonstrate certain circumstances. These include a family leave vacancy, short-term absence of up to 12 months, potential excess (based on agreed official data), or if the position is linked to specific funding or the teacher is not fully qualified. Teachers with one full year of service on contract become eligible for “translation to ongoing” — conversion to an ongoing position without going through the interview and application process. For this to happen, schools need to have the


S WE approach the employment season it is time again for schools to address the issue of how to employ new staff. There is always a spike in job advertisements around September. Unfortunately, despite solid rules in the Schools Agreement, the number of contract positions has remained constant. Clause 20(2) of the VGSA is absolutely clear. It states: “The standard mode of employment in the teaching service is ongoing.” This means that when schools look for new

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• Hours of work. Negotiating and signing a local agreement is a valuable instrument in ensuring local arrangements are documented. This ensures arrangements are not lost when personnel change. The AEU can give you examples of local agreements from other schools to help you; however it is important to remember your local agreement should reflect your own situation. Remember local agreements cannot and should not breach conditions in the legally enforceable Teachers Agreement or ES Agreement. Any help you need in making local agreements or consultative arrangements is only a phone call away at the AEU. The Membership Services Unit, organisers and leadership officers are here for you by phone and in person. NB: If agreement has not been reached on consultation with teachers and/or ES staff it is essential that you let your AEU organiser know so we can follow this up with the department. ◆

capacity for more ongoing positions, which essentially means that if a school has only one genuine reason for contract (above) then they should have only one contract and any vacancies above the number of genuine reasons implies capacity. If the school needs an additional teacher, this position should be ongoing. Schools should always look to translate staff to ongoing before they advertise on Recruitment Online. ◆ Further information and resources are in the members’ section of the AEU website at; or call the MSU on (03) 9417 2822 for advice.

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Secondary Sector Newsletter, Term 3, 2010  

The newsletter for AEU secondary sector members for term 3, 2010.