ACT EDUCATOR TERM 3 2019
ACT EDUCATOR MAGAZINE | TERM 3 | 2019
ON THE COVER
Rebecca Gill, winner of our 2019 Public Education Award.
OUR STORIES 10
THE NEW TEACHERS' EA
A QUICK GUIDE TO YOUR ENTERPRISE AGREEMENT
What have we won in the new enterprise agreement for school teaching staff?
How much do you know about your rights at work? Patrick Judge shares some handy EA-reading tips.
FOR A TOP-SHELF EDUCATION, STUDENTS NEED SCHOOL LIBRARIES
How does a teacher with no plans of being a teacher librarian end up being crowned ASLA's 2019 Teacher Librarian of the Year? Holly Godfree tells us.
TEACHER UNIONS BENEFIT SCHOOLS AND STUDENTS
Trevor Cobbold looks at the gains made by schools and students in the US when their teachers are union strong.
2019 PUBLIC EDUCATION AWARDS
Every year we recognise three public education superstars. Find out why this year's winners were nominated.
DISCLAIMER: 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.
THE PERFECT FINNISH
Having revolutionised school education in Finland, Pasi Sahlberg is now focused on influencing Australia's approach.
29 SCHOOL VIOLENCE: A COMMUNITY RESPONSE IS NEEDED
Dealing with school violence can't be done by schools alone.
THE AEU ACT HISTORY PROJECT
BUILDING THE FUTURE THROUGH SCIENCE
We're compiling a history of the AEU ACT Branch in the leadup to its 50th anniversary.
CIT teacher Robert Berthon is sharing his passion for science with his students.
THE REGULARS PRESIDENT'S REPORT
erm three is my favourite term. I call it the term of light. Before too long, I'll be travelling to and from work in daylight and will have ditched the winter coat for the mid-season one. In a neat, compact sort of way, my 'term of light' reference
symbolises how I view unions weathering cycles of political changes and challenges.
The day after the federal election, at a most unlikely event, I was reminded of how successfully we play the long game. It was at the scattering of Jean's ashes, our much-loved elderly neighbour. I got talking with some recently retired NSW teachers. Although I had not met these people before, it turned out I had (briefly) taught one of their daughters. As this was at a NSW school, my conversation partners were surprised to learn that I now worked in Canberra and had an active role in our union. It was all the more surprising to them as they thought that ACT teachers were the lowest paid in the country. Eight years ago when I was teaching their daughter, ACT teachers were indeed the lowest paid in Australia. Now, we are about to become the highest paid. This reminded me that through the union's persistence, conditions can be improved whatever the cycles of political changes and challenges. The opportunity to champion the achievements of our union turned out to be a good antidote to the disbelief and disappointment we all felt about the federal election result and what it would mean for public schools, preschools and TAFE. We reckoned that Jean would be smiling at how she had brought us together to have a good chat about politics, work and working conditions. It also prompted me to reflect on what keeps me going in the face of disappointment and setbacks. It is my unassailable belief that society will be a better place when everyone has access to high quality, properly resourced public education. It probably helps that I'm an econometrics graduate and have been trained to ride out short-term disruptions and stay focused on the prosperity offered by the long game. During the term of light, I encourage you to learn about the finer details of our new enterprise agreement. Celebrate the pay rises, but also take the time to fully understand the implications for the long game of the enhanced role sub-branch executive members will have in determining conditions in our workplaces.
Angela Burroughs AEU ACT President 5
2019 TERM 3 Upcoming Events RSVP at aeuact.org.au/events
WEEK 1 BRANCH EXECUTIVE
Wednesday 31 July 5.00pm - 8.30pm AEU Office, 40 Brisbane Ave, Barton
WEEK 3 NEW EDUCATOR NETWORK MEETING Wednesday 7 August 4.15pm Kingston Hotel Function Room
WEEK 4 SCHOOL ASSISTANT NETWORK MEETING - NORTH SIDE Monday 12 August 4.00pm - 5.00pm Ricardo's Cafe, Jamison Shops
Wednesday 14 August 5.00pm - 8.30pm AEU Office, 40 Brisbane Ave, Barton
WEEK 5 SCHOOL ASSISTANT NETWORK MEETING - SOUTH SIDE Monday 19 August 4.00pm - 5.00pm San Churro, Woden Westfield
Saturday 24 August 9.00am - 12.00pm J Block Theatre, CIT Reid
WEEK 8 BRANCH EXECUTIVE
Wednesday 11 September 5.00pm - 8.30pm AEU Office, 40 Brisbane Ave, Barton
WEEK 9 ANNA STEWART MEMORIAL PROGRAM
Monday 16 - Friday 20 September AEU Office, 40 Brisbane Ave, Barton
Saturday 21 September 9.00am - 12.00pm J Block Theatre, CIT Reid
We kicked some goals and delivered outstanding benefits in the new enterprise agreement for teachers. And what sweeter way than with a huge celebratory AEU cake? If your sub-branch would like a visit from your organiser (bearing cake!) contact the office and we can make it happen on a day of your choosing in term 3.
(02) 6272 7900
Specialists in Federal Workers Compensation Claims
Slater and Gordon is proud to partner with the AEU ACT Branch
GET IN TOUCH AEU ACT Branch
02 6272 7900 8
for a referral to Slater and Gordon slatergordon.com.au
If somethingâ€™s happened to you at work, weâ€™ll guide you through the legal process, every step of the way.
SECRETARYâ€™S REPORT School teachers: together we did something great. In the last edition of the ACT Educator, I spoke of the importance of solidarity in achieving outcomes that improve all of our working lives, and the lives of the children and young people that we teach. I am pleased to say that our union remained impeccably disciplined and united through the entire enterprise agreement (EA) process. From the discussion paper in 2017, the formulation of our 36 claims, the negotiation period and my reports to Executive and Council, through to the unanimous rejection of the government's inadequate first offer and the unanimous in-principle acceptance of the government's much improved offer after two weeks of intense negotiations, members were engaged, vocal and collegiate. We didn't falter, and we delivered. We delivered on salaries, face-to-face teaching hours, superannuation, class size maximums, workload management, new educator support, the conversion of temporary teachers to permanency, principal mentors, casual teacher release, paid time for health and safety representatives and AEU subbranch leaders to fulfil their duties (see pages 10-11 for a full summary of our wins).
Have you ever had a non-member tell you that they don't see the value in union membership? Well, that position has once again, in the most convincing terms, been blown to pieces. The superannuation outcome alone more than pays for an AEU member's union fees for the rest of their working life, and that's before the tax deduction arrives. It's time for potential members to get off the fence, and we need you to help get them off the fence. The secure and prosperous future of public education can only be truly realised through the collective power of education unionists delivering outcomes together. Go forth and build our union: in size, engagement and commitment. There is so much more to achieve, and we won't rest until it's done.
You will now be the best paid public school teachers in Australia, when eight years ago you were the worst paid. And yet, this EA will clearly be remembered for a lot more than that.
WHAT HAVE WE WON IN THE NEW TEACHING STAFF ENTERPRISE AGREEMENT? Annual salary increases that start with a 3, equating to 12.58% over the four years of the agreement. Immediately we will become the highest paid public school teachers in Australia for a good part of each year, and by the end of the agreement we are highly likely to be the highest paid for the entire year. Backpay all the way back to the start date of the agreement on 1 October 2018. This payment will be in addition to a once-off gross payment of $750 as recognition of your professional learning obligations.
A 30-minute reduction in weekly face-to-face teaching hours for primary school teachers from July 2020. This is the first time teaching hours have been reduced and sets a precedent for future agreements. A reduction like this will see an additional 40 teachers arrive in our schools next year.
A 30-minute reduction in weekly face-to-face teaching hours for new educators in their second and third years of teaching.
An increase in superannuation from the current 10.5% employer contribution to 11.5% over the life of the agreement for employees who are on the Superannuation Guarantee rate. Superannuation will, for the first time, be enshrined and protected in our EA. And, also for the first time, the employer will continue to make contributions to your super for the first 12 months of any unpaid parenting leave.
For the first time, class size maximums included in a joint union and employer policy and referred to in the EA. 10
An EA implementation Plan for each worksite, co-signed by the principal and the AEU Sub-Branch President, which transparently sets out the schoolâ€™s agreed approach to managing workload and ensuring EA compliance. In-principle agreement to converting temporary teachers to permanency after a maximum two years on contract, dependent on the recommendations of the Taskforce on Insecure Work, on which the AEU will sit.
A panel of principal mentors to be available to support principals at a time of their choosing.
80 hours per year for Health and Safety Reps (HSRs) to do their important and 5 days of HSR A panelwork, of principal mentors to training. be available to support principals at a time of their choosing.
40 hours per year for the AEU Sub-Branch to do its important work.
A clause placing limits on digital communication outside of work hours, the first of its kind.
An Occupational Violence clause, the first of its kind.
Casual relief teachers will now have the same release time as the regular teacher after 5 days at a site, and not the previous 20 days.
And more. We have had a positive outcome for 11 34 of our 36 claims.
A quick guide to your Enterprise Agreement Patrick Judge
AEU ACT Industrial Officer
At a recent meeting, I was astonished to discover that a number of life-long unionists had never read their enterprise agreement (EA). These people were passionate about their working conditions and have been tireless advocates of teacher-unionism. If asked, every one of them could have rattled off a list as long as your arm of what our union has won over the years.
I understand why the EA can seem daunting to read. Unlike those activists, it’s my job to read the enterprise agreement, which is (depending on whether you work at CIT, as a school assistant or as a teacher) upwards of 200 pages long and full of technicalsounding language.
Nonetheless, it is important that people feel that they are able to seek answers in the EA for themselves and practice self-advocacy. Our union is at its strongest when members know their rights and work together to enforce them. Here are some quick tips to help you when reading the EA.
Start with the table of contents
The EA is broken into sections and subsections, so a quick flick through the contents pages will help you to identify what parts are of interest. Did you know that your EA has a section dedicated to work and life balance? Or that section P of the teachers’ EA is about “Teaching as a Profession”?
Read each section in full
Like an M. Night Shyamalan movie, some sections of the EA can look like they're heading for one conclusion, only for another section to provide a dramatic twist! Take B5.3 of the teachers' EA, under the heading "Ordinary Hours of Work" - it says "the standard hours are 8.30am-12.30pm and 1.30pm to 4.51pm..." You could be forgiven for making the common mistake that B5.3 sets out teachers' hours of attendance. That is, until you read B5.1: "The provisions of this clause (B5) are only for the purposes of calculating salary and leave entitlements." What a twist!
The EA (usually) means what it says
Generally, words in the EA will have their ordinary meaning. That is, it means what it says. For example, when the EA says that an employee who has been underpaid is entitled to “an offline payment for the amount owing… within three working days” it means exactly that. It is not a requirement that you make payroll’s life easier by waiting until the next pay run.
When a word has a technical meaning. it will be in the dictionary
Did you know that your EA has a dictionary? If you’ve ever wondered what the EA means when it says “eligible casual employee” or “immediate family” then you can just flick to the dictionary at the end of the EA and check.
If you don’t know your rights, you can’t enforce them
While it might go without saying, most breaches of the EA that do occur happen because staff simply are not aware of their rights at work. Every week, the AEU office advises on at least one matter where a manager wants to help a staff member but feels that their hands are tied, or a staff member needs help but doesn’t know how to ask for it. More often than not, we’ll be able to find something in the EA that allows the manager to support their staff member, or an entitlement that the staff member is able to request.
Get to grips with the EA's greatest hits and educate yourself with our EA-reading tips. Quick guide to commonly-used EA sections1
Paid non-attendance Stand-down Flexible working arrangements Hours of attendance Teaching loads Transfer Allowances/payments School assistant-specific conditions
Note that these references are current at the time of writing, but may change as new agreements come into force. 1
How does a teacher with no plans of being a teacher librarian end up being crowned ASLA's 2019 Teacher Librarian of the Year? HOLLY GODFREE tells us.
FOR A TOP-SHELF EDUCATION, STUDENTS NEED SCHOOL LIBRARIES I’d like to share with you twelve seminal moments over the course of my time working in school libraries. It’s my hope that some of these anecdotes might hold useful lessons to help us navigate these years of active advocacy for teacher librarians, and, ultimately, the transition we hope to see with large numbers of new teacher librarians and other qualified library staff joining our ranks in a resurgence of strong school library services for all students across Australia. My entry into the school library from the classroom was a random twist of fate. I was not one of these people who dreamed of working in a library and planned her career trajectory. I just happened to return to part time work after having my first child at a time when the teacher librarian at my school wanted to cut back on her hours.
Moment 1: 2005
I’m walking through the stacks of that library with Daphne Taylor, the quintessential warm, welcoming and knowledgeable teacher librarian. 14
She’s grabbing books off the shelf and chatting relaxedly about the numerous authors and series I need to read because they’re popular with the kids. She’s just rattling off Dewey Decimal numbers (“Let’s go over to 567 and look at the dinosaur books”), and as the pile of books in my hands starts bumping up against my chin, I have my first moment of “Whoooaa”, because I am blown away by the knowledge in her head. Mind you, this must be contrasted by a moment in the previous year when Daphne, being a good practitioner, was making a presentation about the information literacy process to our whole staff. She’s at the front of the room talking about “defining, locating, selecting, organising...” and I’m sitting in the back of the room thinking about what a waste of time this is and how it’s all so obvious what she’s saying.
(I look back on this now as a touchstone moment, by the way, because much of what we teach sounds really obvious and easy. It’s not until you actually have to do it that the challenges and frustrations rear their heads.)
That first year, Daphne says to me, “You know, you could get the master’s degree to get your qualification in teacher librarianship with Charles Sturt University.”
Knowing that it’s an optional choice, I don’t give it a second thought. Why on earth would I want to go back to uni and get another degree? Ah... no, thank you.
Quite a few years later, I’m in a school where I’m running the whole library on my own for the first time. I’ve connected with the Canberra email network for school libraries.
I’ve started realising in my bones that there are quite a few things I don’t know that seem to be really important. I attend a local PD on Oliver, and I feel very uncomfortable when over a cup of tea in the break, the person I’m talking to asks if I’ve got my TL qualification. I say no, and a sort of 'wall' falls over her features. She quickly moves on to talk to someone else.
A few weeks later, I ask [fellow TL] Sue Martin if the TL community here could have a little afternoon get together one day with teachers like me who are working in school libraries and just let us know what those ‘important things’ are, because I’m not going to go back to uni, but couldn’t you just give me the quick rundown about what this whole 'teacher librarian' thing is all about? (Poor Sue, having to try to handle that question tactfully!) 15
But she was firm with me that, no, that was not going to happen because it takes many years of study to learn all the skills. She also said that whilst a library collection might be ok for a while without trained staff, that over time gaps would appear and it would begin to corrode. It would become, she said, like the difference between a Borders bookstore and the book section in KMart. (Now, we’ll ignore the portents of that metaphor with how things have actually played out for Borders, because at that time Borders was robust and thriving.) It took me a couple of seconds before I realised, “Gasp! I’m Kmart!” That was tough love.
A one-on-one meeting with my principal who says to me, “So, as the teacher librarian I’d like you to focus on teaching students about the information literacy process.” I’m nodding my head and thinking “I have no idea what that actually means....”
Moment 5: 2011
I’ve got a school membership to ASLA and a different principal approves funding for me to attend the ASLA conference in Sydney. I hear Karen Bonanno deliver a keynote where I have the first of many “BOOM” moments I’ve had over the years where I am blown away by the brilliance of some of the people in our profession.
Moment 6: Also in 2011
The education minister in Canberra decides to close our centralised teacher resource library. Bill Book, an AEU ACT organiser, asks me to give a little speech at the protest rally. I arrive and he hands me a bullhorn (even though there were only about 20 of us there). I deliver the speech. People get fired up.
Moment 7: 2011 again (2011 turned out to be a big year for me)
Public educators go on strike. Because my bullhorn speech went so well, the AEU office asks if I’ll give one to the 3000 or so members who are on strike that day. As part of that speech, I say something about teacher librarians and the crowd goes wild. The school library community here is electrified. We’re so pumped that our colleagues care about school library services.
Bill Book meets with AEU TL members and tells us we need a goal to work towards. We brainstorm some things before he says, “What if we aim to have a teacher librarian in every school?” We all burst into a sort of wild-eyed laughter because it’s so audacious an idea. (This goal has evolved to also now include qualified library support staff because we must articulate how essential it is to have a team of staff in the library to provide the full range of services).
Moment 9: 2012
I start my master’s in teacher librarianship at CSU. Every week that I study, my growth, my skills, my capacity and my level of service to my school community increases exponentially.
I’m struggling with an assignment for my educational research subject at CSU, and I make an appointment with one of the CSU librarians. It’s distance education, so she logs into my computer with me and we spend an hour going through databases together refining search terms. She helps me assess each article to see if it’s going to hit the mark for what I need. I’m overwhelmed with gratitude and absolutely in awe of what she’s just done.
I’m nearly done with my study when I move to a school where I am in a (fully qualified) team of four (two part time TLs, 1 full time library technician and 1 part time library assistant). For the first time, I only do collaborative work with students and teachers. Our team is given freedom, flexibility and trust, and we create fantastic programs for students and teachers and become busier and busier every year. This move was lifechanging for me personally and professionally. I was an eagle trapped in a little box who was then set free to soar.
Moment 12: 2016
I’m on a plane flying to Adelaide for the annual face-to-face meeting of the members of the school library coalition admin group, and the lady sitting next to me says “So, what are you doing in Adelaide?” “I’m saving school libraries,” I say. She’s shocked. “What’s wrong with school libraries?” she asks. At the end of the conversation, the penny drops for me. Most people have no idea that there is even any problem at all. Their child brings home the occasional book to read, and they assume that all is well in that school library. Two years later, we launch our campaign. It’s been a pretty awesome journey so far. Holly is currently a teacher librarian at Erindale College, a member of the AEU ACT Branch Executive and coordinator of the Students Need School Libraries campaign. The campaign's mission is to ensure student access to high quality school library services. Their vision to is ensure that every student has access to a dynamic, well-resourced school library run by qualified library staff. To find out more about the campaign and how you can get involved, visit studentsneedschoollibraries.org.
TEACHER UNIONS BENEFIT SCHOOLS AND STUDENTS Trevor Cobbold Convener, Save Our Schools Australia
Strong teacher unions are critical to improving equity in school funding, according to a new study published in the academic journal Review of Economics and Statistics. They also play a major role in translating funding increases into increases in student achievement. The study said that strong teacher unions ensured that school finance reforms in the US “were effective in reducing inequality across school districts in education resources and student achievement.” It concluded that: “We find large and important impacts of unions on the size and allocation of school district budgets and on student outcomes.” School finance reforms (SFRs) across the US between 1990 and 2019 resulted in changes to school funding formulas in many states. The goal was to increase state government funding for schools in high-poverty school districts to supplement local government funding. In the US, local government property taxes are the major source of funding for school districts, but reliance on property taxes resulted in large funding disparities between wealthy and poor school districts. A key issue for the outcome of the reforms was whether the state funding increased overall school funding or whether local school districts responded to the increases by reducing local taxes. Some districts receiving more money from the state used it to replace some of their own spending.
The study found that strong teacher unions played a critical role in determining both the state funding that translated into education expenditures and the allocation of these funds. School districts in states with the strongest teacher unions increased education expenditures nearly one-for-one with increases in state funding, whereas states with the weakest unions increased expenditure by less than 25 cents in the dollar because they reduced their local tax effort. Districts in strong teacher union states allocated Image by Charles Edward Miller on Flickr more of the additional spending toward increasing teacher salaries, while It said that the increased expenditure on education inputs districts in weak union states was an “important mechanism spent the money primarily on behind the larger achievement teacher hiring. gains” and that this finding Spending on capital outlays, is “consistent with the recent curriculum and administrative literature finding that money and classroom support also matters in education”. increased more in strong teacher A number of recent studies union states than in states with have found that funding weak teacher unions. increases arising from SFRs The study also found that the sustained improvements in increase in expenditure under student achievement and longthe finance reforms translated run increases in educational into increases in student attainment, earning and achievement. intergenerational mobility. The increases in student achievement were larger in the states with strong teacher unions. “The larger expenditure increases in strong teacher union states in response to SFRs translated into larger student achievement gains,” the study noted.
This new study provides an important perspective on these results in showing the contribution of teacher unions in ensuring their success. Without strong teacher unions, the increase in state funding may have otherwise led to reductions in property taxes rather than increases in expenditure on schools. 17
REBECCA GILL PUBLIC EDUCATION AWARD WINNER Our Public Education Awards were presented at our annual Public Education Celebratory Dinner on 24 May. The Public Education Award is presented each year to an AEU ACT Branch member who has worked to promote public education within schools or TAFE, the wider community and in their personal lives. Rebecca is in her fifth year of teaching at UCSSC Lake Ginninderra. Her drive as a teacher has seen her volunteer to take on a number of demanding roles within the school, demonstrating leadership and innovation in each. These include: creating and driving the Student Voice leadership group in the college; academic excellence program; school board member; AEU Sub-Branch Secretary; and a passion for sustainability within the school to engage students to a point that they are becoming activists on the issues that affect them.
Rebecca has further built on this by organising and supporting excursions that allow students to develop leadership capacity and post-school transitions, for example, the SheLeads Conference, and visits to the ANU. Rebeccaâ€™s decision to volunteer for such a meaningful program, on top of what is already a very demanding teaching load, is testament to her integrity as a member of the Lake Ginninderra community and evidence of her eagerness to go above and beyond to further the vision of public education.
She has enriched the lives of her students, the school, and her colleagues through her significant leadership of pedagogy, co-curricular, and community focussed activities.
Many of the programs she has created for the school have focussed on the experiences of marginalised groups and individuals, and on helping students to understand how their treatment of others can help to make the world better for everyone. This is also borne out in her co-curricular commitment to raising student voices within the school, and to implementing projects such as the Recycling Project, and the Share the Dignity drive.
She is a committed young educator, with a strong sense of social justice and drive to work for the betterment of all members of the school population. Rebecca recognises the value of the contributions students can make within and beyond the school community and encourages them to take steps to ensure they can influence the daily running of the school and be heard when major decisions are made at a whole-school level. The school has seen the successful introduction of recycling, as well as a major focus on raising money for charities chosen and driven by the students themselves, for example, cancer charities, and charities focussed on supporting vulnerable women. She has assisted students to take on leadership with confidence and autonomy, and the increased participation and positive engagement of students since the introduction of the Student Voice group has been marked.
Rebecca makes learning occur right across the school community and not just in the classroom. Rebecca is a wonderful role model to young educators who are inspired by her actions to help make public education the great asset it is to our community and country.
RIGHT IMAGE: Rebecca (centre) with AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe and Naomi Crane from Teachers Mutual Bank, sponsors of our 2019 Public Education Award.
BETH CRADDY RECONCILIATION AWARD WINNER
The AEU's Reconciliation Award is presented each year to an AEU ACT Branch member who has worked to further the aims of Reconciliation in their work in education. Beth is a true champion of public education, union principles and reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the wider community. In her long and distinguished career, Beth continues to serve as a teacher, mentor, union activist, policy-setter, strategist and leader in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education. Currently, as the Director of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Section, Beth is a tireless advocate for cultural change in both the Education Directorate and in the union movement. She has been instrumental in changing the discourse around Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education from a deficit model to a strength-based approach. She has overseen the introduction of cultural integrity in ACT public schools. This involves acceptance that genuine reconciliation will occur when our schools understand and are responsive to the impact of histories and contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural practices and protocols. The significance of this contribution cannot be overstated. Beth’s legacy will be profound. It will have ensured that support and systems are in place to ensure that our public schools are: • • •
culturally safe places for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, families and staff meeting the learning needs and aspirations of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students developing staff and students’ understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures, languages and knowledge systems developing genuine, respectful relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents, families, local community members, service providers and agencies regularly monitoring and refining their practices to ensure they achieve and retain cultural proficiency.
Although deserving of considerable accolades, Beth typically shuns the limelight. Her colleagues speak of Beth empowering others. She is recognised fondly by students as a passionate teacher who cared deeply and empowered student agency. She is highly regarded for her abilities to build individual and team capability, to recognise, support and promote an individual’s strengths and for having your back. Beth is disciplined and works with integrity. She will defend a cause with conviction. She is not afraid to challenge, which has led to her being characterised variously as a quiet achiever, a doer not a ‘gunna’, and a smiling assassin. Within the AEU, Beth spent much time as the ACT representative on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Committee. She used her skills, diplomacy and expertise during a stint as acting federal Aboriginal Education project officer. Beth has worked strategically to build the capability of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members and ensured that we remain well represented at the national level of the AEU. The ACT Branch of the AEU, and indeed the Education Directorate, owes a debt of gratitude to Beth Craddy for her relentless championing of cultural change in general and specifically for holding us all accountable for maintaining the highest standards for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education. Beth is a most deserving recipient of the AEU’s Reconciliation Award.
RIGHT IMAGE: Beth (centre) with AEU ACT Branch President Angela Burroughs (left) and Jane Stower of Teachers Health, sponsor of the 2019 Reconciliation Award.
Low fees and strong long-term performance, so I can retire with more The right support and advice to help you feel future ready
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Consider our PDS at firststatesuper.com.au to decide if this is right for you before making a decision. Issued by FSS Trustee Corporation ABN 11 118 202 672, AFSL 293340, the trustee of the First State Superannuation Scheme ABN 53 226 460 365.
Consider our PDS at firststatesuper.com.au to decide if this is right for you before making a decision. Issued by FSS Trustee Corporation ABN 11 118 202 672, AFSL 293340, the trustee of the First State Superannuation Scheme ABN 53 226 460 365.
PASI SAHLBERG FRIEND OF PUBLIC EDUCATION AWARD WINNER The Friend of Public Education Award is presented each year to a person who is not eligible for AEU membership and who has promoted public education in their work, within the wider community and in their personal lives.
Pasi Sahlberg has been a long-time advocate for public education across the globe, helping to raise its profile and its status. For Pasi, public is the only way – in fact, it’s probable that he has struggled with the idea of there being anything else; public and education are synonymous.
We have experienced Pasi’s strong advocacy here in Australia through the Fair Funding Now campaign and its predecessor campaign I Give a Gonski. Pasi’s strong message about the importance of equity in assuring excellence has found a very comfortable home in his work to further the Gonski reforms.
Gonski was a story of equity, Fair Funding Now is a story of equity, and on that basis, we have had Pasi reliably in our corner. Pasi Sahlberg is a great friend of the education union movement and a great friend of public education.
ABOVE IMAGE: Pasi with (from left) ACT Education Minister Yvette Berry, and Jodie Haydon and Jean Turner-Chapman from First State Super, sponsor of the 2019 Friend of Public Education Award.
THE PERFECT FINNISH
Having revolutionised school education in Finland, Pasi Sahlberg has come to Australia to help us change the conversation about equity, play and trust in teachers. MYKE BARTLETT reports. 26
In education terms, Finland is so hot right now. The small Nordic country surprised the rest of the world when the first Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) results in 2000 revealed Finnish youth to be the best young readers in the world. By 2006, Finland was first out of 57 countries (and a few cities) in science. This was all the more surprising considering Finland was taking an approach to education that went against the prevailing trends for weightier curriculum in favour of shorter days, lighter backpacks and a much greater focus on play. In other words, it seemed they had topped the charts without even trying. As director general of the Ministry of Education in Finland, Pasi Sahlberg was one of those responsible for this shift in pedagogy. Having improved the lives of students and teachers alike in his home country, the author and former teacher made the somewhat surprising decision to educate his two young sons on the other side of the world, after accepting the role of professor of education policy at Sydney’s Gonski Institute. He isn’t backward when it comes to spelling out the difference between schools here and at home. “I think the biggest difference with Australian primary schools is the workload,” Sahlberg says. “The whole system is expecting more, not in terms of quality of work, but quantity of work.” It isn’t just the schools expecting more, he says, but rather a culture in which many Australian parents tend to judge their children’s progress in purely academic terms. “In the first grade, you hear Australian parents talking about NAPLAN, which I find strange. At home it’s much more about happiness and wellbeing and making friends.”
Since taking up office at the Gonski Institute, Sahlberg has been very critical of the way NAPLAN is used by governments and parents alike. While he believes some form of standardised testing is essential for making good policy, he would prefer to see a samplebased model used, with results that couldn’t be abused as a de facto league table. “Parents would be primarily informed by the assessments schools are doing. I think there’s a need in Australia to trust much more in teachers’ judgement. That trust is currently very weak, because most parents seem to think the best judgement of their child’s learning comes from NAPLAN, which is not the case.”
The solution, Sahlberg says, is to make it clear to everyone that teachers possess the same sort of professionalism as workers from careers such as law and medicine. Part of the answer to that is to make it more difficult to gain entry to the profession – an idea that runs counter to the conservative notion (one that fuels initiatives such as Teach For Australia) that we need to make it easier for anyone to become a teacher. In Finland, every teacher is required to have a master’s degree. “The situation at present is that anybody can get into teaching. That would be lethal for the legal or medical professions. When you have the luxury of a culture where teachers are trusted as professionals, it
The current Australian system too often interferes with the vital sense of autonomy teachers need to do their job to the best of their abilities – and to find satisfaction in doing it. Trust in teachers is a key issue for Sahlberg when it comes to improving our schools. The current Australian system too often interferes with the vital sense of autonomy teachers need to do their job to the best of their abilities – and to find satisfaction in doing it. There are three critical elements that make teaching an autonomous, independent profession, Sahlberg says. One is being able to make decisions about curriculum planning: what teachers teach and in what order. The second is pedagogy: the freedom to choose the best way to teach. The third is assessment: measuring the progress of student learning. “Something like NAPLAN works against all three of these critical elements. The whole teacher, their professional identity and their ethos all suffer when the testing works against them.”
spreads throughout the society, including to children and young people. If parents think anybody can teach and the teachers in a school are nothing special, the kids will learn that from them. They will treat teachers in the same way.” He isn’t worried that more rigorous entry standards will prevent young people applying, leading to the sort of teacher shortage that tends to panic right-wing media. “When we require a more rigorous degree, it will attract higher quality candidates to consider teaching. Countries all around the world are currently redesigning teacher education to make entry into the profession harder. Young people don’t look for the easy way out, they look for things that very few people can do.”
Of course, fair funding will play a key role in making teaching more desirable. Sahlberg is concerned by the number of teachers who drop out of the profession within the first five years, leading to a dearth of experience and knowledge. If higher salaries would help stem that exodus, he would be in favour of governments spending more on wages. But his main concern is the lack of fair funding across the Australian school system. Non-government schools often receive more public money than government schools, while government schools accommodate 85% of special needs and indigenous children, who would most benefit from increased funding. Sahlberg stands by the first Gonski report, which pointed out that federal money was not being spent where it was actually needed. “It’s going to be very difficult to move the needle towards more equitable education in Australia unless
the funding somehow changes towards needs-based funding. Australia has one of the most segregated education systems in the world, with the biggest proportion of disadvantaged children going to disadvantaged schools than any other country.” As far as he’s concerned, addressing this inequity will be essential if Australia genuinely wants to improve its education results. Instead of encouraging teachers to limit their teaching to fit the narrow demands of the NAPLAN test – essentially gaming the system – governments should commit to fair, needs-based funding and address the root causes. Sahlberg is modest about the Gonski Institute’s chances of fixing the system, but says it has a key role to play in changing the conversation about school education in this country. "We can try to change the conversation and the quality of public debate. Most educators don’t actually know about how the money is spent or what’s happening in other countries.
"What the OECD is now saying is that when equity doesn’t improve, improving the quality of learning outcomes becomes very difficult. For Australia, investing heavily in improving equity will be the best way to improve the learning outcomes for everyone in the system.” He is confident that a change is coming. When I ask him what he hopes Australian schools will look like in five years' time, should he be successful, his vision is clear. “Five years from now, if I’m successful in what I want to do, there will be many more schools in Australia who allow their children to have more time to play, more time to themselves and who are less concerned about academic achievement. “I hope there will be more communities where parents and elders will realise that equity is the way forward. My hope and expectation is that the time will come.”
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: teachershealth.com.au/ 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
VIOLENCE IN SCHOOLS A COMMUNITY RESPONSE IS NEEDED Martin Fisk, Chief Executive, Menslink
There have been numerous reports in the media recently about high school students filming violence and posting the footage online. To be honest, I think a level of violence has always been present amongst teenagers – I remember with sadness the chants of “fight, fight, fight” that would erupt sporadically at every school I went to from primary school all the way through to year 12. What’s different now? The digital tattoo that affects everyone involved, even the not-so-passive bystander who films and posts the event, for life. It’s inescapable and magnifies the initial hurt many times.
Say you’ve had a humiliating experience. You’ve been verbally abused, bullied or beaten up. A bad experience you want to put behind you, forget, move on and recover from the physical and mental trauma. But let’s say it’s captured online, shared amongst your friends, enemies and then even further afield, attracting hundreds of likes and thousands of views. What if people keep commenting on and sharing it and it comes up in Google searches months or even years later? Say, at your next job interview or sent to your prospective girlfriend or boyfriend? Multiple times? We call this impact a digital tattoo. You’re stuck with it, and it can never really be removed. The trauma keeps repeating, on and on, again and again... But it doesn’t only affect the victim. The bully or the user of violence is also affected by the digital tattoo. They might think it looks cool to their friends network being 'tough' now but what about when they’re looking for a job? What’s a future partner going to think?
A number of media reports and subsequent commentary on social media appears to target schools, in many cases saying schools, educators and even the government are not doing enough (or even anything) to fix the problem. I think this is unfair. In our experience at Menslink, much of the violence happens outside school supervision and even crosses school boundaries. In one case, an individual targeted a random stranger (a smaller kid, unfortunately) in a shopping centre car park; in another a young man was attacked by kids at another school who had learned (via social media) he was gay. Violence (and the celebration and perpetuation of violent behaviour through social media) is a community issue. It is not condoned or encouraged at school, and schools are inherently limited in what they can control. Kids are generally only at school for 30 hours a week – that’s less than 20% of a term week and doesn’t include the 14 weeks of school holidays. That’s worth thinking about. Violence is a community issue and we all need to look into root causes, prevention strategies and interventions: schools, parents, government, police, neighbourhoods and the community sector. All of us.
What can we do?
Frankly, I think there is a case for increased regulation of social media companies, interestingly a view also held by Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Let’s face it, social media companies make money out of these violent videos and content; they drive traffic, traffic drives growth, growth drives advertising and a rising share price. It is way too difficult to request content that shames you or your children to be taken down (importantly, if Facebook doesn’t think it’s offensive to the community
then it is impossible to have the content removed). This needs to change. We need increased support options for victims and offenders alike: non-judgemental, easily accessible and not necessarily tied to “mental health” or “behaviour change”, both labels which can discourage helpseeking behaviour. Finally, we need to look at how we are influencing the very behaviour we are trying to stop. I was very disappointed to read so many comments online from adults effectively saying that adults need to go down and beat up the kids. Here’s a couple of recent comments on ABC Canberra’s Facebook page: “You’d better hope that the police find the perpetrator before I do. They’d never do it again.” And, in response “I’m with you… any little [sh*t]bag does this to my kid and I’ll be doing the same violence on them!” Adults advocating violence, especially violence by a stronger person (adult) against a weaker person (child) only helps reinforce in young people’s minds that bullying and violence works. This, to me, is the most troublesome aspect of the whole debate: public calls for schools to do more, but in an environment where parents are reinforcing the behaviour for all to see. As a society, we need to do more ourselves and be better role models. Schools can’t do it all. Martin Fisk is the Chief Executive of Menslink. An active campaigner for young men, Martin speaks to schools, businesses and community groups across the region about issues facing young men.
THE AEU ACT HISTORY PROJECT Former AEU ACT Secretary CLIVE HAGGAR is compiling a history of our branch in the leadup to its 50th anniversary.
As the Australian Education Union approaches the 50th anniversary of its foundation as a Territory union, it is important to recognise and celebrate its history of achievement and contribution to the profession and to the wider community.
How does a history help us to face future challenges? By understanding our history, we can better face local and national challenges and better contribute to the continuing improvement of our public education system, the teaching profession, our community and Australiaâ€™s broader society. Our history can help us to take a long view of issues which recur over time, to understand why we have been successful and consider how can we learn from our mistakes.
The AEU in the ACT has, since its beginnings in 1972 and its formal registration as the Commonwealth Teachers Federation (ACT) in 1974, fought continuously for the establishment, maintenance and improvement of the ACTâ€™s own public education system (separate from NSW) and for the advancement of the teaching profession and other education-sector employees. The goals of the AEU (in the ACT and nationally) are wider than pay and conditions; we have aspired to create a sense of teaching as a profession, for ourselves and for the community and its leaders.
Our history from its earliest days has been notable for its educational and industrial leadership in collaboration (more often than not) with parent and professional organisations, universities, education bureaucrats, and not-for-profit and citizen organisations. This is because the union has been seen as a credible, effective voice and as the principal professional organisation in education in the Territory.
How our history can help build commitment to the work of the union What are the things a new member needs to appreciate? A history of the kind that is proposed can play an important role in attracting members and building their commitment to debate and action in defence of education and equity. New members need to feel welcomed by an open and inclusive organisation that cares about them and their views, needs and future. At the same time, it is important for all members, new and long-standing, to see themselves as part of a long tradition, working within a movement that has changed its outlook and agenda for action in response to new issues and changing times. They can also recognise that union membership and action is often an important pathway for individual educators to take leadership roles, to have a voice, and gain an understanding of the education system as a whole.
Pictured: The first Commissioner's Advisory Committee: Commonwelath Teaching Service 1973, including ACT representatives: our first full time President, Dick Lee, our first full time General Secretary, Peter O'Connor and Ian Knight.
Reflecting on our past and looking to the future One of the goals for this project is to identify the campaigns and approaches that were successful in the past and why they worked, while recognising moments when issues caused division between members or strategies failed to achieve their hoped-for goals. So, as we approach the 50th anniversary of the beginnings of our own union in the ACT, this is an opportunity to consolidate and celebrate our history and achievements through a History Project, whereby the major issues, events and personalities of the last 50 years are documented and opened for debate.
Collection The approach over the next two years will have five elements: 1. Discussions with union and system leaders and activists about the important themes, events and challenges of the past 50 years 2. An in-depth review of the print and digital history of the union that is currently captured in the journal, photo archives, annual reports and minutes of the union 3. Interviews with pioneers and current system leaders, activists, new members, parents and other stakeholders, which will be digitally recorded and transcribed 4. The development of the history and of regular extracts for the ACT Educator 5. Where appropriate, storing these interviews and articles on the website for membersâ€™ access.
We welcome your feedback and your contributions.
BUILDING THE FUTURE THROUGH SCIENCE Robert Berthon’s passion for science is obvious. A teacher in the Science department at CIT, Robert holds a Bachelor of Science with honours and a PhD in chemistry. "It [chemistry] is the science of life,” he says, “and it’s the central science as a key to other sciences.”
After working in the Department of Environment as a chemical assessor for several years, Robert went into teaching. He has been teaching in universities and at CIT since 1988. “We teach laboratory skills to students in a handson environment, which helps put the theory into perspective,” Robert explains.
“The skills students learn in our laboratory studies give them the opportunity to work in environmental science, pathology, forensics or as laboratory assistants, amongst other things.” With 75% of jobs in the fastest-growing industries needing some form of STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths] skills, he knows he’s helping his students to gain invaluable skills. “STEM skills are so important for problem solving and to find solutions for the future.”
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Your Child Needs Help From Their School Library
They use digital media every day butâ€Ś They get frustrated with homework and assignments
They feel overwhelmed by research tasks They can't find topical, age appropriate digital content
They have trouble knowing which information to trust
They don't understand the privacy settings on their social media accounts and devices
They rarely read for pleasure and their literacy is lagging POOR RESULTS
HOW CAN I HELP?
Their grades are starting to suffer
Help your child and the future of school libraries in Australia
Ask about your childâ€™s access to a well- resourced school library and qualified library staff.
Share on social media #StudentsNeedSchoolLibraries Visit the Students Need School Libraries website for more ideas and info