ACT Educator Term 2 2019

Page 1




More than 50 members attended our 2019 New Educator Conference last term.



Glenn Fowler disects the persistent myths around ACT student performance.



In a make-or-break year for public education, electing a government that puts public education first is more important than ever.



Polly Dunning's words of advice for our new educators.


CIT WORKING WITH SCHOOLS CIT teacher Danielle Lynch channels her passion for helping others into her role at CIT.


FIVE TIPS FOR MORE DIVERSE BOOKSHELVES ....and five books to help you get started.



The assertions and opinions expressed in articles reflect the views of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of the AEU. We do, however, think that these issues are worthy of discussion in our union.



Industrial Officer Patrick Judge outlines the ways your rights are protected as educators and unionsts.

ACT teacher Sascha Colley tells us about her experiences on a study tour of Finland and the factors we don't talk about when we discuss the Finn's world-leading education system.

















n a continuum from 'go with the flow' to 'highly structured', I operate more at the structured end. I'm fond of routine. One of the last acts of my daily ritual before leaving for work is to pin on my AEU badge. I do this with pride and purpose.

I'm proud to be part of our union, which operates with integrity, confidence and conviction and is getting extraordinary results. In term one alone, membership reached yet another benchmark, tipping 3700. A record number of members attended our New Educator Conference. The International Women's Day trivia night was a sell-out. Our Fitzroy Fall industrial retreat was fully subscribed. And Councillors made lively and impassioned speeches in discussing the status of our enterprise bargaining. In their role of guiding the democratic processes of our union, Council united in its support for all members, and in particular for a better deal for our primary school members and principal members. During the term, public education and our members, by implication or sometimes by name, weathered a constant battering in media reports of violence in our schools. In 2016, our union took the decision to tackle the issue of occupational violence. To their credit, our director-general and our minister listened and agreed that much work was required. So began a journey in partnership with the directorate to bring about cultural change. Occupational violence is not okay. It must be reported. And it is, in record numbers. Sensationalist media reporting on this fact is hurting public education, and in all likelihood the hurt will worsen before it gets better. However, we must never forget the human factor in all of this. Short-term reputational damage to an education system of growing strength can be weathered. Some of our members have experienced irrevocable harm. Our branch of the AEU is changing the national landscape. Most other human services professions are further advanced on this journey. They know you need to be safe to do a good job. Educators deserve this respect too, and our branch will be remembered for championing this change. Be proud. So whether you pull on your AEU t-shirt or pin on your AEU badge, I trust you do so with the same pride and purpose as I do.

Angela Burroughs AEU ACT President 5

2019 TERM 2 Upcoming Events RSVP at

WEEK 2 BRANCH EXECUTIVE Wednesday 8 May 5.00pm - 8.30pm AEU Office, 40 Brisbane Ave, Barton

WEEK 3 NATIONAL SUPPORT STAFF WEEK Monday 13 - Friday 17 May NEW EDUCATOR NETWORK MEETING Wednesday 15 May CPSU Training Rooms, 40 Brisbane Ave, Barton 4.15pm - 6pm NATIONAL SUPPORT STAFF DAY Thursday 16 May SCHOOL ASSISTANT (NORTH SIDE) NETWORK MEETING Thursday 16 May Ricardo's Cafe, Jamison Centre Macquarie 4-5pm BRANCH COUNCIL Saturday 18 May 9.00am - 12.00pm J Block Theatre, CIT


WEEK 4 PUBLIC EDUCATION WEEK Monday 20 - Friday 24 May PUBLIC EDUCATION CELEBRATORY DINNER Friday 24 May 6.30pm - 10.30pm National Gallery of Australia

WEEK 5 SCHOOL ASSISTANT (SOUTH SIDE) NETWORK MEETING Thursday 23 May Italian Continental Bakery, Mawson 4-5pm

WEEK 7 BRANCH EXECUTIVE Wednesday 12 June 5.00pm - 8.30pm AEU Office, 40 Brisbane Ave, Barton

WEEK 8 BRANCH COUNCIL Saturday 22 June 9.00am - 12.00pm J Block Theatre, CIT

WEEK 9 WOMEN'S NETWORK TRAINING DAY Wednesday 3 July Time and location TBC


2019 Public Education Celebratory Dinner




M embers: $50 Guests: $85



Specialists in Federal Workers Compensation Claims

Slater and Gordon is proud to partner with the AEU ACT Branch


02 6272 7900 8

for a referral to Slater and Gordon

If something’s happened to you at work, we’ll guide you through the legal process, every step of the way.

SECRETARY’S REPORT Solidarity. This is a word that unionists use often, in greetings and even in song. What does solidarity actually mean, beyond a comradery or empathy that working people share? You’re about to find out. You’re going to have your solidarity tested over coming weeks. You have given the employer a considered program of changes to the rules of your work that would allow you to keep delivering, and deliver better, for the Territory’s students. You determined that program of changes, democratically, alongside the people you work with every day. We have convinced the employer on some of our claims, but in other areas the employer has stopped short of what we have asked for.

Solidarity is fighting for something your colleagues want even if it doesn’t have a direct impact on you personally. Like decent super, which many of your colleagues don’t have. Like principal wellbeing. Solidarity is fighting for your colleagues in primary schools, even if you’re not in a primary school. Solidarity is realising they’d be there for you if the circumstances were reversed. Solidarity is supporting a position with which you personally don’t agree, but with which the majority of your colleagues do. Unionism is not a smörgåsbord, where you can pick and choose what democratic decisions you will support and which you will undermine. Sometimes solidarity causes you mild, short-term pain, like the loss of half a day’s salary. You won’t remember that money in a decade’s time, but we may reflect on a momentary lack of solidarity forever.

AEU members have collectively assessed the government’s first offer and have decided that it’s not good enough. It doesn’t give us what we need.

To show solidarity, all you have to do is be committed, and not buckle.

Here’s where solidarity comes in.

Only one thing can defeat us, and that is a lack of solidarity.

Solidarity is about holding the line, no matter what.

We will do this together, or we won’t do it at all.

Solidarity is about not giving up until it’s over. Solidarity is about not blinking when the other side wants you to. Solidarity is about safety in numbers.


Solidarity is natural, normal, legitimate and legal. The alternative is capitulation.



Women are over-represented in teaching. Recent data tells us that among teaching graduates, 97% of early childhood teachers, 85% of primary school teachers and 68% of secondary teachers are female. This gender imbalance can also be observed across the OECD. In Australia, the share of male teachers has been in decline since 1977. Social influences and job attributes like flexibility and work-life balance likely play a part in this trend. Such disparities in an occupation are also often attributed to gender differences in occupational preference and social roles. The perceived gentle, nurturing nature of women is one (albeit simplistic) way many would explain the fact that more women than men would choose to become educators. But a recent study by researchers from UNSW and Monash University suggests that economic forces may also be a key factor. The study compared the salaries of women choosing to become teachers with that of women choosing other professions. They did the same for men. They found that for a man, choosing teaching as a career means giving up a higher potential salary to what he could expect in a non-teaching career. For women, it’s the opposite. For women, average salaries are lower in non-teaching professions. In fact, teaching can be one of the most profitable choices for a woman; for a woman with a Bachelor of Arts, teaching is one of the best-paid jobs.


This suggests that wage structures in the labour market play a large role in occupational choices. Men and women face different trade-offs and opportunity costs when choosing careers, which can contribute to the concentration of women in certain professions, like education. Having such a gender disparity in the profession is obviously problematic from a gender equality perspective but, in education particularly, it can also send unhelpful signals about career aspirations for men and women. Raising teachers’ salaries across the board may seem an obvious solution, but this would likely only increase the attractiveness of teaching for women. It would only have a small impact on the appeal of teaching for men, who would continue to be attracted to the higher salaries in other professions. Researchers do have a few suggestions for addressing the issue, including providing additional scholarships for men in teaching and ensuring that teaching career plans fulfill the ambitions and expectations of both male and female teachers. Another suggestion - one we can probably all agree on - is that the image of teaching to reflect what it truly is: an essential job to enhance a society.


Researchers have raised concerns about education app ClassDojo. One of the most popular education apps in the world, ClassDojo has more than 10 million installs on the Google Play store alone. ClassDojo "gamifies" behaviour management, assigning students a colourful monster avatar and rewarding them with ‘Dojo points’ for good behaviour, accompanied by a “pleasant, Pavlovian dinging noise”. Misbehaviour results in a loss of points, with an accompanying negative sound effect. A research paper out of the University of South Australia has raised concerns that the app “intensifies and normalises the surveillance of students” and “creates a culture of performativity and serves as a mechanism for behaviour control”.


Research out of Northwestern University in the United States suggests that when children are exposed to increases in school spending while they're in school, they experience improved outcomes as adults. Researchers found that increasing school spending by about 10% over the course of the school-age years of a low-income child, that child experienced about a 13 percentage-point increase in the likelihood of graduating from high school. Their earnings were about 10% higher. They were about 8% less likely to be poor as adults, even though they were poor as children. They were also less likely to be incarcerated as adults.

The paper’s lead author, Jamie Manolev, says students are being conditioned to accept being constantly watched and having their behaviour tracked. He worries the ramifications may extend beyond the classroom, given that the app also allows teachers to share this data with a student’s parents in real time. He also believes the competitive nature of the app creates a classroom hierarchy that can affect the ways students see themselves. Additionally, he says, the app doesn’t help teachers understand the factors behind the behaviour of a student, instead creating “a behaviour economy in which individuals appear as balance sheets of behaviour”. Maolev compares this to China's social credit system. Both systems rely on surveillance, converting behaviour to a score and then assigning rewards or punishments accordingly.

While Jackson says it's difficult to narrow down which individual factors may be at play in improving these outcomes, he notes that increases in school funding tended to be spent on class-size reduction, increases in teachers' base salaries and increases in the number of support staff in a school. Allthough Jackson's research was conducted in the US, we know that factors like these can influence a student's outcomes in the classroom. These findings would tell us that perhaps they can also have much more farreaching consequences.

Jackson points out that these improvements also affected children who were not from lowincome households, but that the outcomes were not improved by as much. 11

BUSTING MYTHS AROUND STUDENT PERFORMANCE The mantra of conservative politicians and commentators that ACT students are “underperforming” and “falling behind” is in danger of becoming accepted wisdom. Representing as I do the thousands of Canberra teachers who are skilfully preparing our children for the complexities of tomorrow, I see serious dangers if this lazy and alarmist narrative remains unchecked. Students in ACT schools are doing very well. They have always done very well, and all the signs point to them continuing to do very well. The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), the international sample testing conducted every three years by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), shows that the ACT is the highest-performing Australian state or territory in all three literacies: science, maths and reading. Indeed, in the most recent 2015 science literacy test, ACT students scored on average 527 points. This is 34 points higher than the OECD average and 17 points higher than the Australian average – the equivalent of six months of learning.


After a decade of generallydeclining PISA results across developed nations – a phenomenon that probably tells us more about the shortcomings of testing regimes than student achievement – ACT students are more likely to reach the national proficiency standard in all three domains (science, maths and reading). And no students in Australia do better than ours when it comes to the international maths and science tests for years 4 and 8 known as TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study). Speaking of testing regimes with shortcomings, there’s the infamous NAPLAN. Despite the annual panic by some about results, ACT public schools consistently exceed the Australian average. Much is made of other jurisdictions “catching us” due to our alleged “complacency”. I contend that it’s because for years now the Directorate has joined with the union to emphasise that coaching is inappropriate for these brief snapshot tests, because that takes away from providing a rich education. I am confident that the ACT would have the least NAPLAN coaching in the country, and we should be proud we have resisted such perverse temptation.

Now let’s set standardised tests aside. ACT students are statistically the most likely to participate in schooling, indicating that our kids feel connected to their school, and they want to learn. Students from years 5 to 12 in ACT public schools are surveyed every August about their satisfaction with their schooling. Overall student satisfaction levels have consistently hovered around the 80% mark for the last five years, and, in recent years, our public school enrolments have been rising faster than anywhere else in the country, by nearly 4% in some years. The 20-year-long shift toward non-government schooling is now thankfully in the rear-view mirror. The proportion of ACT students being awarded the Year 12 Certificate is over 80% and above the national average. The Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) or university entry results in the ACT are strong by national standards, and they have been getting stronger. Our median ATAR is now up to 77.7 out of a possible 100 – the best in the country.

Are ACT students really falling behind? GLENN FOWLER looks at the facts around ACT student performance.

Experts suggest that year 12 results are a better gauge of achievement than the results in PISA and NAPLAN because students are more intrinsically motivated to try harder, understanding the results have far greater impact on their lives. Life after year 12 is brighter for the ACT’s 18-year-olds than just about any of their interstate peers. More than 90% of ACT year 12 graduates are in work or further study within six months of leaving school. The 2018 Post School Destinations and Pathways survey found that 93% of 2017 year 12 graduates were employed and/or studying in 2018, and 85% of graduates found years 11 and 12 worthwhile. Anecdotal comments from lecturers in ACT-based universities suggest our public college system sets our Year 12 graduates apart in positive ways. ACT schools educate the “whole child”. ACT students consistently rate above the national average in civics and citizenship sample testing, and I suspect it’s no coincidence that as a nationleading 84% of the ACT’s primary schools offer an Instrumental Music Program, adults in the ACT have significantly higher levels of participation in visual arts and crafts, theatre, dance and music.

But, for all the good news, we do need to talk about equity. In PISA, when adjustments are made for students’ socioeconomic advantage (using a measure which reflects the education level of a student’s parents, family wealth, home educational resources and possessions related to “classical” culture in the family home) the ACT does less well. We can see this in Year 12 results also. There is a considerable gap in certification rates between children of lower socioeconomic backgrounds and those from higher socioeconomic backgrounds.

Or is it because so many ACT families bypass high-quality, relatively well-resourced secular public schools to patronise the best-subscribed private religious schools in the country? A rich irony indeed, considering that ACT residents are amongst the least religious people in Australia.

The ACT doesn't have a performance or achievement problem... it has an equity problem.

The ACT doesn’t have a performance or achievement problem; it, like Australia as a whole, has an equity problem. ACT Education Minister Yvette Berry has rightly identified this issue as the centrepiece of her Future of Education Strategy, based on extensive consultations. Nobody knows for sure why we have this problem. Is it because the unique urban planning philosophy of Canberra has resulted in virtually all of our public schools catering for the full range of family backgrounds in Canberra, including some families with complex and traumatic life circumstances? (This isn’t a problem for the public system, because we value a socioeconomic mix and the benefits that brings for all students.)

We know private schools have segregated our communities and concentrated disadvantage elsewhere. These schools have attracted a disproportionately high number of families from the top socioeconomic quartile and a disproportionately low number of families from the bottom socioeconomic quartile. Indeed, budgetary policies of successive governments, territory and federal, have incentivised them to do so. If only conservative politicians and commentators carried on about this actual problem rather than seeking to impugn the exemplary work of ACT educators by creating a mythical one.


Profits that go to members, not shareholders. The right support and advice to help you

feel future ready 14

1300 650 873

Consider our PDS before making a decision. FSS Trustee Corporation ABN 11 118 202 672, AFSL 293340, trustee of the First State Superannuation Scheme ABN 53 226 460 365.

ELECTING FOR CHANGE In a make-or-break year for public education, electing a government that puts public education first is more important than ever.

The future of our public school funding will be determined at the ballot box at this year's federal election. Will the Coalition government's devastating funding cuts impact public schools for decades, or can voters be persuaded that a quality education for all students is the priority? With the election looming, the Fair Funding Now! campaign is at a critical point, says AEU federal president Correna Haythorpe. The union's campaign is aimed at restoring public school funding the Coalition government has cut since 2017 and ensuring all public schools are funded to 100 per cent of the School Resource Standard (SRS).

puts public education first. They finished their journey in Canberra on budget day, where the AEU had created a huge display on the lawns of Parliament House. Thousands of cut-outs, one to represent each public school in Australia, were stuck in the lawns, each showing the amount of funding that school has lost due to the government's cuts. "It's time to remind the government of its responsibility to reverse the cuts to public schools - just as they've done with private schools," says Haythorpe.

"Scott Morrison's government introduced legislation that has denied public schools the resourcing they need," says Haythorpe. The legislation set a 20 per cent cap on the Commonwealth contribution to the SRS. Then at the end of 2018, Haythorpe says, the government "behaved appallingly" by coercing state and territory governments into signing bilateral agreements, with a threat to withhold funding unless they did so. "This has made the situation far worse, with only 1.3 per cent of public schools set to reach 100 per cent of the SRS by 2023." The cuts have left public schools out of pocket by $1.9 billion in 2018 and 2019, and by $14 billion over the next ten years. "It will have a devastating effect on public school funding over the next decade. We're calling on the government to reverse its cuts and to ensure all public schools are funded to 100 per cent of the SRS. At the same time, the Morrison government has shown its clear preference for private schools, with a $4.6 billion special deal for private schools and not a single extra cent for public schools. Almost all private schools will be at or above their SRS by 2023. "We also want the government to commit to funding capital works in public schools, as recommended in the Gonski review, and to reverse its cuts to funding for students with disabilities and review future funding for these students." CAMPAIGN ON THE MOVE The public response to the government's attempt to compromise quality education and has been overwhelming. The Fair Funding Now! campaign has placed public school funding on the national agenda, ensuring it is a key issue in the election campaign, says Haythorpe. Educators, parents and others in school communities have put their hands up to get the message out ahead of the election, particularly in marginal electorates. A fleet of branded Fair Funding Now! vans has visited school communities across the country with campaign teams talking about why we need a government that

FUNDING PROMISES The hard work that AEU members and other volunteers have put into the campaign is paying off. Tens of thousands of supporters have signed up, the media regularly covers the issue and Labor and the Greens have come to the party to restore the Morrison government's cuts. Labor has promised an extra $14.1 billion for public schools over the next ten years, including $3.3 billion in the first three years. "It's a significant announcement, that would transform public education," Haythorpe says. Labor and the Greens have publicly stated the importance that all schools reach 100 per cent of the SRS. The Greens have also promised public schools $320 million per year, or 80 per cent of the capital grants fund, in a move that would turn around the inequity in capital works funding. Meanwhile, AEU polling indicates strong opposition among voters to the Morrison government's public school fnding cuts. "The public aren't fooled. Parents understand the importance of investing in our schools," says Haythorpe. "And they know they have a clear choice when the time comes to vote."








20-24 MAY 2019






Everyone has an opinion about the jobs teachers do. Writer and educator POLLY DUNNING delivered the keynote address at our 2019 New Educator Conference and had some words advice about not believing everything you hear.

The way I see it, there are two main narratives that the media and society have about teachers: a direct attack, and an attack in praise’s clothing. The direct attack is obvious. It’s the “we need higher calibre teachers with better school marks and more university and more tests!” bit. Because, obviously, the teachers we have at the moment are a bit crap and we need way better ones. It’s the stuff about how badly schools are failing – yep, that’s our fault, again. Newsflash: teachers and schools are not failing. We’re actually doing a damn fine job, evidenced by the wonderful young people we continually manage to turn out, despite being so awful at our jobs. It’s politicians who still make remarks about us working 9-3 and getting 12 weeks holiday. And it’s your family members and mates at that Sunday barbeque making those same “jokes”. You feel the sting of it because you know that deep down they believe it to be true. But watch them tell you to “get a sense of humour” if you dare defend yourself. When one of those articles or segments comes out, teacher Twitter goes nuts; we all reassure each other and make witty retorts in 280 characters. Someone (sometimes me!) writes a withering response in the paper and we all go back to posting Harry Potter memes. But it chips away at us. It makes us feel like we have something to prove. Let’s be honest. It is excruciating to work your guts out every day to be told how lazy you are, how easy your job is, and how terrible you are at it. And the second type of media and social narrative I see is a direct response to this first one. This is the one where, actually, teachers are wonderful, selfless, hard workers. We’re working 70 hour weeks, we spend thousands of our own dollars on school supplies and lunches for our kids, we’re running concerts and fetes and school camps and mentoring programs all in our own time for no extra pay. This makes us feel validated, sure. Yeah! We work soooo hard! But we shouldn’t. And this narrative is so damaging to us because it makes us feel good, but only if we continue to totally overwork and sacrifice ourselves.


When you combine the two narratives of “teachers are crap” and “teachers are saints” what you get is a situation where we feel like if we’re not one of those lazy, terrible, stupid teachers then the only other option is to be the martyr teacher. You get a situation where idiots like me, when I was at the height of my jerk-face overworking self-righteousness, say things like, “Teaching isn’t a job, it’s a lifestyle choice,” and, “If you’ve got time to sleep, you’ve got time to work”. What an insufferable person I must’ve been! And I was on a road that leads to only one place, and that place is crying on the side of the road after pulling over on the way to work, not knowing why I felt so miserable. It leads straight to burn out and demoralisation.

We asked some of this year's attendees to tell us about their experience at the New Educator Conference. If you missed it this year, keep an eye out in term 1 next year! And in the meantime, get involved with our New Educator Network. Our first meeting for 2019 is coming up in May. Visit for details.


FOURTH YEAR TEACHING Imposter syndrome is a newly defined yet deeply relatable feeling in which a person doubts their accomplishments and worries that they might be revealed to be a fraud. Speaking to the many different teachers I have met, we have all had that overwhelming “OMG what am I doing here? Who left all these kids with me? How do I even TEACH?” moment. This, I have noticed, is especially potent when you take on your first job or move to a new school. I was in this position last year; new to a school, struggling with my choice to become a teacher, feeling like I didn’t belong. Luckily, that’s when I got the invitation to the AEU New Educator Conference. I sat in a room with a group of new teachers (still wondering what I was doing there) who all shared some similarity to me. They went through uni with me, they taught in schools I knew, and at the bare minimum, they were all union members.


SECOND YEAR TEACHING 2018 was my first year as a teacher. As a new educator, I found my experience of first term slightly daunting at best and worthy of a complete freak out at worst. Thankfully, I had a supportive team of educators around me. One of my teaching team attended the 2018 New Educator Conference and came back with some pearls of wisdom that helped me in my first year. I thought “if I get this much just from someone telling me about it, I want to actually go next year!” This was the main reason I wanted to attend the 2019 New Educator Conference. I am glad I did. At the conference I met fellow new educators who, like me, were in their first three years of teaching. I got to see that I was not alone! People were experiencing similar things to me. Excitement, doubt, confusion, and passion for teaching were common experiences of new educators, often experienced all at the same time. A valuable message that was passed on throughout the conference was that you don’t need to know everything or do everything all at once. Polly Dunning said it quite elegantly: "Be selective about what matters and what you do with your time."

And I started to realise very quickly, that yes, I DO belong. We had a rousing and heartfelt show of support and love from Jane Caro. We had information provided to us on exactly what we should be expecting, and what we VERY DEFINITELY should NOT be doing (thanks Glenn). We had all this information (from talking about super contributions to the ins and outs of how to say ‘no’) handed to us on a platter. Lunch and drinks included! Not only did I leave feeling like I belonged, but I left feeling empowered! When I was invited to go to the conference again this year, I spoke to someone who had attended last year and asked if he was going. He said no. “I went last year. I don’t need to go again.” Boy, was he mistaken. Not only did we get that same smörgåsbord of information handed to us, but even more this year.

We had a poignant, relatable, funny and inspiring key speaker in the charismatic Polly Dunning, who really helped pull some of those monsters hiding in all of our closets out into the sunlight. We got the message that “It’s okay. We’re all here for you.” We networked, mingled, shared war stories and compared scars. We learned. We thrived. We belonged. We left thinking about all the things we can do, all the things we should do, and all the things we WILL do. I watched fires light in the eyes of those of us who had arrived uncertain or disillusioned. For me, it was an incredible shot in the arm and reminder that I DO belong in this job. I CAN do this. We are supported, even when it doesn’t feel like it. So whether you are a brand spanking newbie, or a “seasoned” 5th year, I’d highly recommend going next year. I will, if they will still have me. We belong. We are united.

You’re NEW, so give yourself permission not to know everything. Use the fact that you’re a new educator to your advantage, you can say ‘no’ to things to give yourself the chance to get good at the most important thing – teaching. Carve out time for yourself. You don’t need to be at school early and leave late; you’re allowed to have a life outside of teaching no matter what others might say or do. As a result of taking this single thing on, my ‘to do list’ is so much longer than last year, but my mental health is far better.


As the conference is an AEU event, I also learned that new educators have rights. Amazing. We have the right to a mentor for the first three years of our teaching. We have the right to negotiate and choose who that mentor is. We have the right to negotiate how our new educator days are used. We have the right to negotiate how our additional 1.5 hours of off class time are used. We get to have a voice, and if you don’t feel like you are being given an opportunity to use yours, the AEU is behind you to make sure you get what you need. We are not alone.

The most valuable thing I came away with was ideas about working hours and the pressure I put on myself to be perfect! Polly Dunning’s opening address will stick with me forever. I can see myself in what she said, and I really do want to avoid teacher burnout. I need to accept that I am new to this and I’m learning every day.

I recommend the New Educator Conference to all new educators. It provides valuable information from people who have been there, lets you know what your support network is and what your rights are as a New Educator. It was so good. I will be there next year.


I really wanted to attend the New Educator Conference so that I could meet other educators who were in the same position as me. As a high school drama and dance teacher, I am the only person at my school who teaches these subjects. This can be a bit isolating. It was great connecting with a group of new educators who were feeling exactly what I was.

A major takeaway from the day was the discussion about having too much on your plate. It was so incredibly valuable to be involved in the discussion about the art of saying No. Teachers are peoplepleasers and I have to fight the urge to say yes to everything all at once. I 100% recommend this conference to new teachers, it gets you out of your school bubble and into the wider community of teachers, and it helped me to understand that I am not alone. CONTINUES ON PAGE 32


EDUCATION IN FINLAND: THE THINGS WE DON'T TALK ABOUT In September 2018, I was very fortunate to travel to Finland to study the Finnish Education System after winning the 2018 Public Education Foundation’s First State Super Teacher Scholarship. This enabled me to enrol in a week-long program with a company called Learning Scoop at the university of Tampere, where I attended an intensive study tour for one week, engaging in lectures and visiting schools and early childhood centres each day. I also visited a teacher training school in Rovaniemi and spent some time in Sipoo (near Helsinki), where I joined a year 3 class in a primary school. My interest to study the Finnish education system was strongly driven by my passion for playbased learning. My motivation for this personal inquiry was to gather evidence to support my continued advocacy for play to be considered a 21st century pedagogy and to be firmly established within the foundation years of schooling in Australia. When children play, they are developing their oral language and communication skills, curiosity, social and emotional skills, gross and fine motor skills, critical thinking, collaboration, literacy and numeracy skills, and are able to engage in personal interest projects. When we hear about Finland, the common catch cry is “Finnish children don’t begin formal schooling until the age of seven!”.


This is simply not true. Children in Finland attend a full year of compulsory play-based education - in classes, at schools, with their peers - at the age of 6. At this time, they are being introduced to letters and numbers in playful ways. Children are in classrooms with teachers and school assistants, following schedules of learning activities. As a primary school teacher and early childhood educator, I consider this to be formal education. In addition to this, every child from the age of 1 has a ‘right’ to a place within their local early childhood education and care centre. Childcare centres are run by each Municipal (similar to the town council) and, as such, are public run facilities. At these centres, babies, toddlers and young children are engaged in high quality early childhood education. Each child has an individual learning plan, and play-based learning experiences are planned by a team of teachers and school assistants. Educators document their observations of children’s interests and skills and extend their learning using this information. There is a multitude of research that indicates the long-term benefits of early intervention and quality early childhood education on student outcomes. When we discuss here in Australia how Finland achieves their PISA results, why are we not linking the high-quality support and early childhood education children are receiving in Finland, as positively influencing these outcomes?

Early childhood education is free for most families in Finland. Costs of care are determined on a sliding scale, with family income determining costs. The most any family will pay for full time childcare is €290 (approx. $600) per month. For children of families with a low social economic status, this means accessing entirely free early childhood education from the age of 1. There is an option for families to have one parent remain at home with their child and receive a small payment for doing so until their child is 4 years of age. From 4 years of age, most children are enrolled in their local childcare centre, beginning their education journey. From birth, families regularly visit nurses and health care professionals at community health centres for regular check-ups and opportunities to engage in playgroups with other families. The attitude of the Finnish is “a child does not choose the family they are born into” and, as such, each child deserves full access to the supports and early interventions they require to be healthy, happy and safe. If a child is exhibiting behaviours or development delays or signs of any type of special needs such as autism or speech and language Impairment, families are able to access free psychological assessments and specialists. All intervention required prior to school is provided swiftly and at no cost to families.

We often hear about the high achievements of students in Finland. SASCHA COLLEY shares the insights she gained after spending some time observing the world-leading system.


So why don’t we talk about this in Australia, when we discuss the results of the Finnish education system? Early Intervention and the positive effects for learning as a result of quality early childhood education for children is well documented as having a lasting effect and improving student learning outcomes. What Finland is doing in the early years should be considered as a strong influencer on the educational outcomes of their students. Play consistently features and is documented clearly throughout the Early Childhood and Care curriculum, pre-primary curriculum and the primary curriculum. All children are provided with the opportunity to play regularly throughout the day. When integrated correctly and combined with explicit, structured lessons in the foundation year of school, play delivers all of the 21st century learning skills in the most effective, child-friendly way. Play requires and enhances communication, creativity, curiosity, collaboration, critical thinking skills, literacy and numeracy skills and can include digital technology skills. Why is it that we are not embracing playbased learning consistently across Australia throughout the foundation years of schooling?

The same teacher and class together throughout primary school and small class sizes. Staff-student ratios in Finland are low in comparison to other countries, including Australia. In Finland it is common to have 20 students in most classes. When discussing this with teachers in Finland, their statement was “of course class size makes a difference, we know this as teachers”. Every pre-primary class (6 year olds) has one teacher and one school assistant. In Early childhood education and care centres, staff student ratios are 1 adult to 4 for babies (0-2) and 1 adult to 8 for 3–6 year olds. It is also common for a teacher to stay with the same class group for a number of years. Teachers often start with a class group in their first year of school and continue with this class until they complete year 6. There are occasions when a teacher may specialise in the early years and stay with a class from year 1 to year 3 or 4, and then that class might change teacher as they finish primary school. However, it is more usual for the class to have the same teacher throughout their entire years of primary schooling. In fact, parents often complain if their child’s teacher changes too often. The potential for this to impact on student learning is great. Strong relationships are built between each family, student and teacher over a six-year period, which must influence the educational achievement of each child. As an educator, I believe the effects of this small difference in Australian schools would be huge. Many working hours are spent by school teachers and leadership teams at the end of and beginning of each school year as we determine new class structures for the following year. 24

Not doing this would reduce workload for teachers and school leaders. Secondly, as a teacher it is common to reach the end of each year having worked out exactly how each of your students achieves their best learning outcomes and having developed quality relationships with children and their families. Imagine if we continued the following year from that point of knowledge. It could be surmised that Finnish children start from this position each year, with a teacher they know who also knows them well, somebody who understands exactly how they learn and has an relationship with and knowledge of their family. It’s usual in Australia for the first term of school to involve teachers getting to know each child and working out how to best accommodate individual and family needs. Would this small change of practice lead to improved student outcomes across our Australian education system? One benefit of Finnish teachers remaining with their class for a number of years is the effort and positive attitude reflected from both teachers and families to develop respectful relationships with each other. Both parties know they are going to be in this together for the long haul. I did question teaching staff what happens if there are problems or if a particular child or family did not like their teacher. However, The Finns replied simply, “You have to work it out. You know you are going to work with this child for a long time, and the family knows you will be their child’s teacher for a long time. So you make sure you develop good relationships. You work on it”. Another Finnish view is “there are no bad teachers”. If a teacher is having trouble, I was told, they are asked “What do you need and how can we support you?”. In Finland, instead of blaming teachers or considering individuals as ‘bad teachers’, it is accepted that individuals at different times in their careers may require more support and/or development. This is provided in a positive, non-judgemental way. This is the same way families who are struggling for various reasons are approached. If it is noticed that a family is having difficulty or exhibiting evidence of problems, the family is also supported in a non-judgemental way and provided with what they need. From the age of 7 when children begin year one, they attend school for four to five short, sharp, well-structured lessons, with a 15 minute play break between each lesson. At each break, children put on their shoes or boots (children don’t wear shoes inside their classrooms), jackets and in winter their snow gear and run outside for a 15 minute play break. They then run back in again, strip off their coats and boots, sit at their desks and start their next lesson. After these lessons (and a free hot, healthy lunch) the school day finishes and most children head to after school programs.

Most children in the first years of primary school finish their school day by 1pm and spend the rest of the day playing or engaged in after-school activities. As children get older the number of lessons each day increases.

Some other interesting findings “All teachers in Finland have to have a Masters degree”, is also a common catch cry when we talk about Finland’s education success. Teachers do need a Masters degree in a subject area, however an individual can teach a class or be a relief teacher without an actual teaching qualification. Teachers without a teaching degree are not paid the equivalent wage of a qualified teacher. It is also possible for university students studying to be teachers to work as casual relief teachers or even to get short contracts for a couple of days each week to teach in schools. These decisions are at the principal's discretion at individual schools. The teachers training school I visited in Rovaniemi had 400 children attending the school and hosted 480 practicum teachers each year. The school was connected to the local university and welcomed approximately 80 practicum teachers at one time each term. Student teachers completed their practicums in groups of three and four student teachers in one class, and it was pleasing to see these students engaging in the culture of observing and providing feedback to one another with the support of their mentor teacher. This was a positive experience for all involved and the collegiality, professional relationships, willingness to be observed and ability to observe others and provide feedback about lessons being developed by student teachers was commendable.

The biggest take away for me from my study tour was the recognition that in Finland there are no benchmarks throughout a child’s education. Teachers are not driven to ensure a child reaches a certain reading level or academic level each year. There is an understanding that each child will develop differently and accordingly there is no pressure or attempts to force children to learn faster or earlier than they are able. Teachers are not caught up in trying to meet specific benchmarks to justify their performance as teachers. There is a strong drive by the Finnish not to cause educational stress to children by pushing them to work at levels for which they are not developmentally ready. Each child is taught from the level they are at and celebrated for what they achieve. Learning is made fun, and encouraging a love for learning and cultivating positive attitudes towards learning is clearly documented within the Finnish curriculum. The Finns protect childhood. They see childhood as a time that should be joyful and stress-free for children. They understand the research behind play-based learning and recognise that providing quality play (indoors and outdoors) for children in the early years will have a strong positive effect on children’s academic and social outcomes in the future.

Hear from Pasi Sahlberg, one of the architects of Finland's world-leading education system, when he delivers the keynote address at our Public Education Celebratory Dinner on 24 May. 25


Congratulations to our recently joined and re-joined members! By joining our union, you’re standing in solidarity with more than 3700 of your colleagues to fight for the best conditions for ACT public educators. Rachel Burrage, Sam McLoughlin-Wilden, Brent Irvine, Lauren Preston-McLanders, Nicole Farrington, Jasmine Kite, Kirstyn Millar, Katherine Pajuczok, Tessa Barbour, William Power, Briana Gracie, Tamara Hope, Sophie Benassi, Annabelle Jaiyawong, Lachlan Murray, Martyn Call, Kasie Ryan, Rheannon Gibbs, Ethan Robson, Kim Hofmeier, Christine Mayberry, Kate Beer, Emily Stewart-Reed, Declan Hester, Kirsty McCrabb, Daisy Jackson, Janelle Boreham, Iwen Chow, Jane Watson, Kelby Pointon, Jessie Atkins, Elizabeth Wallace, Emma Quinnell, Stephanie Tanner, Julie Wright, Amanda Downing, Julie Stollznow, Catherine Dempster, Samantha Wood, Teanne Knobel, Samara Radcliffe, Tanielle Peate, Rachael White, Abbey Pickering, Kathryn Finn, Maddison Cunningham, Sarah Sweeney, Jessica Batt, Deirdre Thomson, Megan Speed, Maria Famelis, Emily Kreymborg, Nicholas Bolwell, Stella Lee, Nicholas O'Brien, Jane Monoja, Thomas Hobson, Chantal La, Jenna Lalor, Nicole Merchant, Peter Watson, Emma Durward, Priscilla Reyenga-Holborow, Owen Davies, Isaak Stewart, Karina Adams, Jordan Austin, Kelly Reeves, Mari Kitasaka, Taylor Johnson, Sarah Kenny, Harleen Kaur, Timothy Freeman, Guoyi Sun, Thomas Hansen, Theresa Moala, Belinda Whyte, Kristen Kauhanen, Nike Paterson, Grahame Dickson, Lachlan Manuel, Katrina Vesala, Katherine Harris, Toni Campbell, Bethany Lieschke, AndrÊ Borgeaud, Virginia Wilson, Tavis Aitchison, Joanne Dillon, Charlotte Wood, Nathan Cross, Nicole Houghton, Katherine Molloy, Helga Siotis, Sarah Nockels, Thomas McLachlan, Samantha Endall, Rebecca Chapman, Morgan Holland, Madison Miller, Brooke Penna, Janelle Strain, Tom Leddy, Brianne Carrigy, Cherie Wilkinson, Matin Dean, Matthew Diep, Stephanie Akers-Barnes, Joanne Archer, Andrew Bakker, Amanda Barden, Sarah Barry, Chad Birks, Tully Bond, Alison Bos, Hannah Brickhill, Sophie Burton, Lucina Chambers, David Chittick, Rose Clarke, Graham Clews, Sophie Clews, Julia Clothier, Zoe Coffa, Sarah Cotton, Kari Crofts, Monique Darragh, Laura De Costa, Kisangie Dissanayake, Yasmin Edgerley, Zuzette Fahey, Christopher Game, Kirsten Gardner, Emma Gerrand, Amanda Gillespie, Carmen Giugni, Sandra Gliddon, Anna Gobbo, Tamara Green, Kirstin Guenther, Lyn Hamilton, Kylie Hennock, Ali Herden, Thomas Hinchcliffe, Annette Howes, Kiri Hudson, Susan Hurkett, Carmel Jean Seymour, Nicole Kay, Veena Kumari, Jessica Lago, Martena Lawson, Rhys Lintern, Heather Lobb, Kylie Macdonald, Tara Mairs, Kylie Mannix, Clare Marley, Louise Martingale, Antonietta Martiniello, Crystal Martin-McIlraith, Chloe Muthukumaraswamy, Matthew Newman, Sarah Palmer, Lisa Parsonage, Michael Pedler, Mary Pezzella, Sophia Prestipino, Desiree Rees, Emily Regan, Richard Saberton, Nicole Sandeman, Wendy Saunders, Casey Scott, Ellen Sheridan, Tamar Sloan, Clare Smith, Yvonne Solly, Richard Sommers, Charlotte Stevens, Jing Sun, Zeinab Tabaja, Philippa Thomas, David Tudehope, Anne-Maree Turner, Michael Watson, Natasha White, Mallory Williams, Keah Woodgate, Belinda Yates, Tracey Yurtbilir, Gregory Williams, Rebecca Blenkin, Courtney Bower, Genevieve Duck, Samantha Fogarty, Keshia Smits, Kate Purcell, Helen Duncan, Dean Joy, Dylan Elks, Kate Ashcroft, Faeza Samnakay, Rachelle Evans, Melissa Cameron, Angel Chung, Julianne Tran, Anthony Cox, Rendall Wagner, Arika Bassett, Robyn Debney, Katherine Rainger, Rachelle Wilkinson, Hyisyim Tee, Ken Doyle, Bianca Moore, Annette Gloeckler, Linda Carter, Michelle Wootton-Price, Jacqui Liggett, Rebecca Cheng, Kate Foster-Lomas, Heather White, Buddie-Anne Henry, Kirsten Kobus, Madison Samuels, Karine Cornolti, Anderson Ritchie, Sarah Darcy, Hollie Aerts, Sophie Millington, Michael Thomas, Benjamin Yuen, Siew Lim, Paula Rayner, Beau Olsen, Kirsten O'Neill, Tracey Kennedy, Dahlia Cerro, Laura Langston, Effie Logan, Darcy McMahon, Kailee Tindale, Christie Rankine, Melissa Heath, Cathryn Emerson, Brendan Dahl, Sarah Harvey, Angela Wichmann, Rebecca McNamara, Shirley White, Alana Jackson, Ella Quinlan, Sarah Masling, Courtney Martin, Ajay Joshi, Rita Rogers, Bianca Porcheddu, Amie Smith



Danielle Lynch has always had a passion for helping people. She joined CIT in January 2016 from Disability ACT and is now channelling that drive into teaching in aged care, disability and home care. Two of Danielle’s areas of teaching are the Vocational Learning Options (VLO) and Health Access at Schools (HAAS) programs. With her specialty in disability care, she is passionate about these programs and how they can help students. The HAAS training program complements the training that Learning Support Assistants (LSAs) in our schools are given by ACT Health. It focuses on workplace health and safety,

personal support and assisting with medications, as well as training its students in reporting and recording, aiding movement and the use of lifters and hoists. The program is partially delivered at CIT Bruce but includes a school visit for workplace observation. Danielle says the best thing about the HAAS program is being able to bring together LSAs from across the directorate and provide them with frameworks to help manage their complex and multifaceted roles, as well as supporting them with autonomous decision-making on the job.

“It contributes to the professionalism and value of their role,” she says. Wearing her VLO hat, Danielle teaches students from years 9 to 12 as they complete select competencies in a chosen field. “It’s important because it gives students other options for things to do in the future,” Danielle says. “It inspires them and gives them a sense of where they’re going, and it helps keep them in the education system.” Danielle’s passion for helping people is obvious when she talks about her students. “The best thing about working at CIT is seeing students succeed,” she says, “and seeing their faces at the graduation ceremony.” 27

THEY CAN'T DO THAT, CAN THEY? Patrick Judge, AEU ACT Industrial Officer

GENERAL PROTECTIONS GENERAL PROTECTIONS - WORKPLACE RIGHT – DISCRIMINATION One of the strongest protections workers have is their Enterprise Agreement. The "EA" (sometimes called an "EBA") creates many workplace rights. The EA sits alongside the rights granted to employees by the Fair Work Act. Together, they create a framework of legal protections in the workplace. The Fair Work Act makes it unlawful for an employer to take “adverse action” against an employee for a "protected reason". A "protected reason" includes that the employee has a workplace right, or plans to exercise or not exercise a workplace right. Adverse action includes: · Dismissal; · Injuring an employee in their employment; · Altering the position of the employee to the employee’s prejudice; · Discriminating between the employee and other employees of the employer. This means a unionist who insists on their workplace rights cannot be mistreated. Asserting the right to face-to-face hours or flexible work will not get you into trouble.


Employers are also prohibited from taking adverse action for reasons that are discriminatory. That is, you cannot be subjected to adverse action because of your: • Race or colour; • Sex or sexual orientation; • Age; • Physical or mental disability; • Marital status, family or carer responsibilities or pregnancy; • Religion or political opinion; or • National extraction or social origin. People may worry that they’ll be discriminated against because they’re older and nearing retirement age. Alternatively, they may worry that they will be adversely treated because they have to take time away from work to care for their children. In fact, our workplace laws protect people from discrimination on the basis of those attributes.

FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION EAs protect AEU members' right to freedom of association. Freedom of association is: • the right to join a union; • the right not to be treated unfavourably because you joined a union; and • the right to be represented by our union. The freedom of association provisions protect employees who join their union, as well as activist union members.

One of the common barriers to joining a union or taking action is the fear of reprisals or retribution. This is even true of education, where most workers (and managers) are members of our union. Yet those fears are often founded on misconceptions about what can happen to you. If you’re trying to get a colleague to join, or members to take action, it may be helpful to let them know a little about how unionists' rights are protected.

MISCONDUCT AND DISCIPLINE PROCESSES Employees may worry that they will be accused of misconduct and disciplined because they took union action. The EAs protect employees' right to fair and impartial treatment in disciplinary processes. This includes the right to have any allegation of misconduct investigated and assessed by an impartial third party. It also includes the ability to appeal any disciplinary action proposed. Education workers generally uphold the high ethical standards that their profession expects. Disciplinary action is exceptionally rare.

TRANSFER PROCESS Teachers are sometimes concerned that the teacher transfer process will be used to “get rid of them” if they make a fuss. This is often the case where a teacher has found a job in a school of which they are particularly fond. For example, the position may be near to their home or the school their children attend. Staff are entitled to have any transfer decision reconsidered by an independent panel. The panel must include an AEU nominee. This process protects staff from misuse of the transfer system.

SOLIDARITY ACTION Of course, there will be times when none of the protections listed above are enough protection. Using the general protections provisions of the Fair Work Act or running a dispute under the EA will cause stress and lost time. In these circumstances, the best protection we have is solidarity. Union members banding together to demand the fair treatment of their comrades is one of the oldest traditions of the movement. Standing together and making an expression of solidarity can be a powerful way to show that we will not tolerate the illtreatment of one of our own.



Helen Joanne Adam, Edith Cowan University

A lack of diverse books is failing children from minority backgrounds. This is something that should concern all Australians. I studied five Australian early learning settings and found less than 5% of books contained cultural diversity. My more recent findings show educators are struggling to use books in ways that promote intercultural understandings. Diverse books can help achieve principles of diversity written into Australian education polices. The potential of diverse books in addressing these principles and equity more generally is too important to ignore.

How books impact little readers socially and academically

Reading to children has a powerful impact on their academic and intellectual development. Children learn about themselves and the world through the books they’re exposed to. Importantly, children can learn understanding and respect for themselves and for those who are different to them. But a lack of diverse books means we have a serious problem. Currently, children from minority backgrounds rarely see themselves reflected in the books they’re exposed to. Research over the last two decades shows the world presented in children’s books is overwhelmingly white, male and middle class. For children from minority groups, this can lead to a sense of exclusion. This can then impact on their sense of identity and on their educational and social outcomes.

Stereotypes and misrepresentation

The evidence regarding Indigenous groups across the world is even more alarming. Research shows these groups are rarely represented. And, if represented at all, are most likely to be represented in stereotypical or outdated ways. Many educators or adults unwittingly promote stereotypical, outdated or exotic views of minority groups. This can damage the outcomes for children from those groups.


Children from dominant cultural groups can view themselves as “normal” and “others” as different. In my recent study, I found the book collections in early childhood settings were overwhelmingly monocultural. Less than 5% of the books contained any characters who were not white. And in those few books, the minority group characters played a background role to a white main character. Particularly concerning was the lack of representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Of 2,377 books, there were only two books available to children that contained Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander characters. Only one of these was a story book. In this book, the Aboriginal character was portrayed as a seminaked person playing a didgeridoo in the outback. There were no books showing actual everyday lifestyles or views of Aboriginal people.

Teachers are uncertain

The accompanying practice of teachers may also be counterproductive to achieving equitable outcomes for children from minority backgrounds. The teachers in my study were keen and committed to the children in their care. They were passionate about the importance of reading to children. But when it came to selecting books, they struggled to know what books to select and how best to use them. Other research has found similar uncertainty among teachers. Some teachers overlooked the importance of diversity altogether. Some saw diversity as a special extra to address occasionally rather than an essential part of everyday practice.

How can we make bookshelves more diverse?

The call for more diverse books for children is gaining momentum around the world. The value of diverse books for children’s educational, social and emotional outcomes is of interest to all. The voices of Aboriginal and minority group writers calling for change are gaining momentum. But there is still much to be done.

The recent development of a database from the National Centre for Australian Children’s Literacy is an important step. Publications of diverse books are still very much in the minority but some awareness and promotion of diverse books is increasing. These important steps forward could be supported with better training for teachers and increased discussion among those who write, publish and source books for children. Here are five tips to help you build a more diverse book collection. 1. Look for books containing various characters of different cultures, race and ethnicities: • Do the books contain a reflection of the diversity of society? • Do the pictures and storylines contain a range of people doing everyday things? 2. Find books in which the main characters are of varying cultures, races and ethnicities: • Seek out books in which the main characters are from varying backgrounds. • Find books in which characters of diverse backgrounds are living, playing or working together. 3. Check out the pictures: • Do they show people of different backgrounds living everyday lives, or are minority groups only portrayed as different or special? 4. Are the stories interesting and appealing independent of any multicultural aspects? • Does the book actually interest and appeal to your students? • Does it tell a story rather than preach? • Does it stimulate ideas and deep thinking? 5. Think about the author and illustrator: • Look at the authors and illustrators; a diverse range of authors and illustrators f rom different cultural backgrounds can help build a diverse range of books.

This article originally appeared on The Conversation.


The Conversation, CC BY-ND




FIRST YEAR TEACHING The AEU New Educator Conference featured many speakers who illustrated the essential importance of our union and how to best manage the first years of our profession. Without doubt, though, the highlight of the conference was the keynote address by Polly Dunning.


SECOND YEAR TEACHING I recently attended the AEU New Educator Conference (and I was able to take paid industrial leave for the first time to do so!). I took this opportunity as a chance to hear from AEU union office team members and experienced educators in our ACT system. During the conference, we were given regular opportunities to share and discuss our experiences as new educators. Being able to come together and find that we all had similar experiences was interesting. We shared our range of stories honestly, willingly and for me, it was refreshing to hear that I wasn’t the only one feeling overwhelmed in this profession. I felt even more inspired after we heard all the wonderful things the union has fought for over the years and the amount of support they provide for educators. Being united to achieve conditions like paid sick leave, parental leave and annual leave are important wins that the AEU has advocated for to improve our conditions. I was impressed to hear how our AEU leads the way with particular campaigns to improve work safety and organise training to prioritise and work with the directorate to reduce occupational violence. It was wonderful to hear from Glenn Fowler and his passion as a public educator working on our behalf as he reinforced how solidarity helps support us all. Being responsive to what we can do to help each other is an excellent way to be effective educators and sustain our energy with our students. One of the best presentations was Polly Dunning’s. I found myself completely enthralled with her different stories, experiences and commonalities with my own time as a new educator. Reflecting on this event, my teaching philosophy and work ethics, I took away how much I enjoy being a teacher, working with other experienced teachers and students in our ACT public education system. The conference gave me opportunities to reflect on the sometimes-frantic pace of a workday, investigate the amount of time that I spend working and think about ways to change so that I can manage this better. The main things that I will take away from this experience, will be to implement time to invest in my own wellbeing, turning the balance back into enjoyment and longevity. I appreciated the advice that was given to be able to do this and look forward to staying connected in the New Educator Contact Network. I would encourage and recommend this to any new educator as it gives you the chance to mingle with other educators both new and experienced and know that you are not alone in this profession. Working collaboratively, we do great things. Staying on track with our own wellbeing means we can love what we do and continue to share our expertise across the ACT public education network as AEU members.


She spoke with humour, insight and blunt honesty about the life of a new educator. Although it happened to her once, Jay-Z does not choose to come to your school every day. A moment like that is the result of hard work, luck and insanity, but that is just one day out of many. In fact, it struck me as she spoke that she seemed proudest of her moments grinding away without much recognition. What others outside the profession might, as she explained, view as an ultimate failure. The worth and satisfaction of teaching is more than producing students who perform well in literacy and numeracy indexes. I naturally reflected on my own examples: by the end of term gaining some level of respect from a student who started out our journey together intermittently screaming during class. Hearing from a Year 10 student who was the polar opposite of academically-orientated that he would miss the discussion next year. As an idealistic, enthusiastic, new educator you care immensely. You are also naturally uncertain of your future. You see colleagues you consider to be very competent and dedicated teachers who work on 6-month contract to 6-month contract and have done for some time. This results in you doing whatever you can to be of service to your faculty, school and community, as Polly and countless others have done. As Polly emphasised to us, you can be seen to be this brilliant dynamic person who on the surface has it all together, but below is just desperately kicking to stay afloat. The central message of her presentation, ‘it is okay to say no,’ had been said to me last year by colleagues when they feared that I had taken on too much in my first six months of teaching. My natural inclination was to resist it with everything I had. I did not get into teaching to say ‘no’, even though the logical part of my brain deduced that to a degree my eagerness and possible naivety was being exploited. With this experience and Polly’s own powerful story of near burnout at hand, I had a realisation: the two were not mutually exclusive. Saying no is not a betrayal of how much you care. It is a process of saving energy so that you can care for longer, more effectively and efficiently. It just means that you are giving everything you can, not everything you have. While both statements are remarkably similar in terms of sentiment and commitment to the cause, for a teacher the two have a world of difference. We cannot absolutely empty the tank and be effective the next day. We do not have a week to recover and build up to our next match. We need to find a reasonable level 5 out of 7 days a week, making over a thousand important microdecisions throughout a teaching day. After two days spent in the conference room filled by free AEU swag and impassioned tones, I returned to Telopea not panicked that I wasn't yet familiar with every single IB acronym. No longer was the nagging feeling of imposter syndrome present. Those around me had some amazing ideas about our profession and the education system at large. As the conference went, I think we all had the growing realisation that the power to implement them is in our collective hands. The future might be uncertain and will probably not feature Jay-Z, but I left having a real sense for what is possible as a new educator and hopefully beyond.


SECOND YEAR TEACHING Last term I had the opportunity to attend the AEU’s New Educator Conference along with around 50 other new educators from across the ACT. We have a very active subbranch at Lyneham Primary with 100% membership, but I knew I wanted to learn more about what the union has done for other educators like me. I also wanted to learn more about how I could contribute in my sub-branch. Opening the conference, we heard from Polly Dunning, a teacher, activist and writer. She spoke about her experiences as a teacher and the importance of believing in yourself and knowing that you’re not alone. I loved hearing Polly’s passion for public education and the teaching profession. Listening to Polly speak about her journey really helped me understand how the media plays a role in spinning the truth about what’s happening in our public schools. Listening to Polly speak was for me, a highlight of the conference.

Along with Polly we heard from other staff from the AEU office including Glenn who spoke passionately about public education and what the union has achieved working together as a collective. Some of the main insights I gained across the 2 days were; 1. 2.


That we aren’t alone and that it is okay to speak up and ask for help It is okay to say NO. You are not expected to pick up a million different duties in your first year of teaching let alone in any year of your career. That looking after not only our student’s health and wellbeing but our own is paramount to a LONG and successful career.



Young, passionate, energetic voices fill the air. Tales of past experiences, hilarious stories and heavy reflection shared among the teachers of the future. Glenn Fowler, AEU ACT Secretary, commands the stage along with each talented and well-spoken presenter who takes the lectern. You can feel the energy in the air. The sense of belonging, of camaraderie. The sense of being a part of something bigger. I was ecstatic to attend this great experience. I wanted to immerse myself in the union and the voice it gives us all, discover what help I should be providing new educators as the new educator contact at my schools branch of the union, and to recapture some of the optimism and strength that can be overwhelmed by the busy job of teaching. Framing teaching as a job and never letting it run your lifestyle was just one of the many amazing words of wisdom shared by guest speaker Polly Dunning who spoke of her own journey through education with relatability and humour. While we may never have friends as cool as Polly’s (Jay-Z is pretty impressive!), the most valuable thing I found underneath all the wonderful information about mentors and workplace safety was the connections I made over the two days. Meeting new teachers from primary and high schools across the ACT allowed for a great exchange of experience and methods. I have already implemented several of these great suggestions from other new educators in my daily practice.

Listening to Glenn, Sean and all the presenters speak passionately about our rights and responsibilities as educators and, empowering us to speak up for those rights was really motivating. The conference allowed me to collaborate and communicate with other new educators across the system and to share our stories and ideas with one another. Coming away from the conference I definitely feel more aware of the impact I can have on public education as an individual and the things I can do together with my sub-branch to speak up for our rights. I would encourage any new educator to head along to the next new educator conference, I met a lot of fellow colleagues that just like me are passionate about public education. Growing up as a student of public education I now know how important union support is for a new educator and it is important that we stand together in unity to fight for public education.

I had a few major takeaways from the New Educator Conference, including the notion that teaching is a job and it is important to always treat it that way. As a new educator we are constantly made to feel like we should undertake more, to sacrifice more of ourselves to improve the lives of our students, and cement our space among more experienced teachers. This very need to impress and take on responsibility after responsibility is harmful to our profession. It sets unrealistic standards that we cannot possibly live up to. The solution is often just as simple as saying “no”. While getting involved in the school community can be a positive thing for future employment, you need to recognise your limitations and own health and well-being. Finally, I walked away from this two day experience feeling supported by a union team who is passionate, hardworking and needs our help and voice to continue to evolve education. I am hoping that what you have read above has already got you thinking about attending the new educator conference next year. You will not find a more rewarding, enjoyable and informative experience to attend as a new educator. Even as a teacher about to graduate from the new educator ranks I found a wealth of information that I have both implemented at school since and information I wish I had known years ago. In the meantime, please think about attending the New Educator social club to meet a range of wonderful new educators just like you.


Dear Glenn and team, As I am about to retire tomorrow, I cease my membership of the AEU. However, I wanted to write to you as head of the AEU ACT to express my thanks to the union for supporting me as a member over many years. I was one of the very first teachers to have the opportunity to be classified as a Permanent Part Time (PPT) officer back in the late 1980s. Before that, officers (usually women) had to resign if they wanted to access part-time employment as a temporary officer. It sounds ridiculous now! I was only PPT for 12 months but it made such a difference to me as a young mum trying to balance work and parenting. It kept me professionally engaged and made me feel that I counted too. I will always remember the support that our former union president, the lovely Rosemary Richards, gave me during that period and I have trued to have the same empathy with young parents on my staff as a leader. As the years passed and I became a leader in our system, when staff suggested (threatened sometimes!) that they'd take their issue to the union office, I was never overly concerned. I always knew that it meant an honest and fair conversation would take place and we'd work things out. We always did. I trust that you will continue to support staff through the various life stage, highs and lows, as they balance a wonderful career with their families. It certainly made me a loyal and committed member. Thanks again,

Heather Paterson (retiring member)

We’ve made a promise. To be there for the education community, the way they’re here for our kids. From your first day to your last, sport time to report time, we’re on-hand to care for your health and wellbeing.


Melissa, Primary school teacher & THF member

We’re for teachers – that’s our promise. To find out more about what we can do for you, head to: promise

Eligibility criteria and conditions apply. Teachers Federation Health Ltd ABN 86 097 030 414 trading as Teachers Health. A Registered Private Health Insurer. THF-AEU-04/19


GLENN FOWLER Branch Secretary


PATRICK JUDGE Industrial Officer

SEAN van der HEIDE Northside Organiser

MONIQUE MORTON Member Services Officer

JACQUI AGIUS Senior Industrial Officer

JACOB DUNNE Case Support Officer

MALISA LENGYEL Southside Organiser



MEAGAN PEARCE Communications Officer

GRACE JOHNSON Membership Coordinator

LUCY BARRETT Administration Assistant


Call for 2019 nominations

ROSEMARY RICHARDS SCHOLARSHIP Rosemary Richards was a proud feminist, unionist and educator. A trailblazing leader, she was committed to advancing gender equality across the AEU. In her memory, the Rosemary Richards Scholarship continues her legacy by building the capacity of women as activists and leaders. This is an opportunity for an AEU woman member with an idea for an innovative project, research or study experience that will increase her skills and experience in the union’s work at state/territory, national or international level. By extension, it should also support the AEU’s women members.


The Scholarship is valued at $10,000 and is intended to cover all project expenses including, but not limited to, travel, attendance at conferences, workplace visits, training and development opportunities, work-shadowing, research, project design and implementation. All women AEU ACT members are encouraged to apply. Contact our Women’s Officer, Malisa Lengyel, on 6272 7900 for more information.

Application forms and further information is available on the AEU website: women/rosemaryrichards-scholarship-2019

The submission deadline for applications is Friday, 3 May.