Cha k. Official publication of the Australian Education Union Tasmanian Branch. Summer 2012/13 | www.aeutas.org.au
quality teaching do you meet the new gold standard?
[ in this issue …
[ from the editor …
ClassDojo builds class mojo. East Derwent Primary calls in the avatars.
From the President …
‘Student whisperer’ Glen Pearsall on class dynamics.
Social media’s golden rules: don’t be an idiot and don’t feed trolls!
Students on a high? How to manage drugs and alcohol in schools.
Saving TAFEs — Federal Government goes AWOL …
In brief — Acting Officer program; Support Staff report; Young Achievers; Gonski campaign update.
Jobs for the ‘girls’. Is that what’s driving the “teacher quality” debate?
Sex — more talking means less ‘doing’.
Welcome to ‘McEducation’. Do you want fries with that? Have a nice day!
Indonesian education unions don’t have two Rupiahs to rub together but are rich in passion.
DoE’s performance enhancing plans are coming to a workplace near you.
Tassie’s science teacher national accolades — it is rocket science.
Reading, writing, ‘rithmetic. Adding up Tasmania’s NAPLAN results.
Devil’s dust, the silent killer. Asbestos eradication at home and abroad.
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Hi, I will be a quality editor. I will be a qual…. But hang on a moment; what actually is a “quality editor”? How is it measured and who does it? Am I a failing editor if I make a mistake or content is misunderstood? Are you asking just because I’m a woman? These are the types of questions to be thrown at all Department of Education employees in 2013 when new performance and development plans come into force. AEU Industrial Officer Malcolm Upston has written a survival guide that you cannot afford not to read. Related to teacher performance is “teacher quality”, the latest buzz words. Melbourne researcher Dr Catherine Scott investigates the role of gender in the relentless, microscopic scrutiny of teaching and asks whether it would apply if it was a majority male profession. Some consider NAPLAN a good indication of “teacher quality” and student outcomes. AEU Tasmanian Branch President Terry Polglase ‘tests’ the argument. Stretched school budgets may be an entrée into ‘McEducation’. AEU Research Officer Jeff Garsed asks if you’d like fries with that and serves up implications of marketisation for public education. Nationally renowned classroom behaviour
guru Glen Pearsall, the ‘student whisperer’, advises on managing classroom dynamics and the art of crowd control. Student behaviour discussions wouldn’t be complete without sex, drugs, alcohol, and social media in the mix; this edition of Chalk covers them all! Family Planning Tasmania advocates education and conversations about sex to promote sexual health and ‘demote’ promiscuity. Celebrating, commiserating, bonding… you name it, we’ll drink to it! Australia’s alcohol-soaked culture impacts our youth. Holyoake says student drug and alcohol abuse is on the rise and appeals for patience, not punishment. In the online world, Font PR explains how to avoid the menace of trolls, and East Derwent Primary dials up the avatars for behaviour management. Chalk celebrates our young achieving public educators and national accolades for a North West Coast science teacher. Outside our borders, the AEU’s Training Officer Leanne Wright reveals the challenging world of Indonesian unionism, and Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA updates on the international campaign to ban the devil’s dust — asbestos. Cheers, Harriet
[ contributors …
Glen Pearsall Glen Pearsall was a Leading Teacher at Eltham High School in Victoria and now works throughout Australia as an educational consultant. Glen specialises in teaching responsible behaviour, instructional practice and coaching. He has a particular interest in the work of graduate and pre-service teachers and has worked as a seminar leader and research fellow at the Centre for Youth Research. His books for new teachers include Classroom Dynamics and the best-selling And Gladly Teach.
Sarah Charlton Sarah Charlton, Holyoake CEO, began as a nurse and midwife working in private, public and district hospitals in Tasmania. Sarah then moved into management roles in acute medical, surgical, and psychiatric private hospitals. In 2008, after 10 years in executive positions in the corporate sector, Sarah joined Holyoake where she has expanded the organisation’s services to include therapeutic support for people affected by their own or a friend’s or family member’s addictive behaviour.
Dr Catherine Scott Dr Catherine Scott is an independent education researcher and writer. Dr Scott is a former Primary and High School teacher and counsellor/ psychologist. She lectured in a variety of psychology and education subjects at undergraduate and postgraduate level at universities including the Universities of Sydney, New England and Western Sydney, for 20 years. Dr Scott is a former Research Officer for the Australian Education Union, Federal Office.
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ClassDojo builds behaviour mojo
Smiley face stamps are ‘out’ and avatars are ‘in’ for the latest in positive behaviour management. East Derwent Primary campus is on the leading edge of IT in education with ClassDojo. Harriet Binet, AEU Communications Officer, takes a ride with the avatars.
ast Derwent Primary is using the latest computer software complete with avatars and smart boards to inspire positive behaviour among students, with amazing results. With the click of a button or the tap of a smartphone, the teacher can award a Dojo, or reward point, to a student who has displayed a particular positive behaviour. The ‘point’ is then automatically displayed next to the student’s avatar on the classroom smart board giving real-time feedback. Daniel Loader, Advanced Skills teacher, said East Derwent Primary, a campus of the Jordan River Federation, picked up the idea from Vicki Pain, from Tasman District School, and adapted it to meet their needs. “It’s a wonderful tool that gives real-time feedback to students and important positive reinforcement of targeted behaviours without the need to interrupt teaching or disrupt the flow of the class,” he said. “I can target certain behaviours so one day it could be team work and problem solving the next.” “At the end of the day, we all want to know when we’re doing the right thing; we all appreciate positive feedback and students are no different.” ClassDojo is a way to easily award feedback points for behaviour in class in realtime, and instantly reinforce good behaviour. The program can be customised to each school or class need and also provides
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behaviour-tracking analytics and reports that teachers can share with parents and administrators. “For the teacher it’s a reflective tool and, at the end of the day or week, I can look back at the data and see who was awarded Dojos and for which behaviours,” said Daniel. “I can also quickly see if any students are flying under the radar and are perhaps in need of attention and particular feedback.” ClassDojo can run on an interactive whiteboard, a computer connected to a projector, or even just a smartphone, tablet or iPod touch and you need an internet connection. The program can be operated from a smartphone, enabling the teacher to reward points without having to stop and interrupt learning or class momentum. You can download an App for the iPhone allowing mobile operation for the program and it’s tax deductible. Positive Behaviour Systems (PBS) at East Derwent focus on four pillars: pride, responsibility, respect, courage. Students who earn positive behaviour
awards earn an “EDWay card” which can be redeemed at the school EDWay shop. The Dojo has now been incorporated into the PBS so Dojo points go towards EDWay credits. Dan says the points and rewards are hard earned and he finds that it engenders team work and students nearly always decide to donate their individual points to their team. The ClassDojo software is currently free for teachers
but this may change in the near future. Dan and his East Derwent team have been running informal presentations and workshops to schools that express an interest in trying the technology and are happy to share their experiences.
w w w.c lassdojo.com
from the president Dear Colleagues At the Union there is continuous activity around the political, industrial, professional and educational aspects of your work and those who have required individual support will attest that the Union has been able to provide support, when it has been impossible to find this elsewhere. In our role we are balancing daily the activity that is required and this report provides you with an update of some major activities. On the national agenda, news that there is agreement that the GONSKI recommendations need to be legislated is pleasing, but the 2020 time frame to see full implementation is longer than we would have liked. Expect to hear a lot more said in the lead up to the next federal election. The Quality Teacher agenda is now fully upon us and building teachers’ professional capacity will always be supported. What won’t, however, will be any commentary that suggests that improving teacher quality is the answer to our nation’s falling standing in comparative testing results. The work of David Berliner shows that a teacher’s influence over student scores is estimated to account for 38% of the total effect a school has and this only accounts for 20% overall. It is the outside-of-school factors such as family income, neighbourhood, violence rates, family moves, language spoken at home that affect achievement much more. At the state level, the result of our AEU member survey Public education: through the eyes of educators showed a picture of increasing workloads without the concomitant increase in resources needed to support it. In summary, what you want
and require is clearly more support for students with additional needs; limits on workloads and expectations; a profession supported and valued; and a new funding model, GONSKI!, to be implemented as soon as possible. They do not all necessarily relate to money. These messages have been conveyed to Education Minister McKim and the Department in our regular meetings. We expect that you will see tangible evidence that your concerns have been acknowledged and acted on. We are in the initial stages of formulating a state budget submission 2013–2014 and from February of 2013 our planning for negotiating the next Enterprise Bargaining Agreement begins. Members can expect our focus to centre on the issues of insecure employment, workload, resourcing for high and additional needs students and rewarding those with additional responsibilities. In unity,
Terry Polglase AEU Tasmanian Branch President Email: email@example.com Environment Print Applied Technology recognises the importance of maintaining a continual focus on environmental responsibility. Environmental Management within our production facilities is considered a critical aspect of our business and to this end a great deal of thought and investment has been made to ensure that we minimise any negative impact to the environment. We have installed environmentally friendly pre-press technology enabling us to eliminate the photographic film process and associated chemicals required in making offset printing plates. Our investment in a world-class solvent recycling system from Europe has enabled us to recycle all our solvent liquids for reuse instead of disposing of this material after a single use, which has been traditional industry practice. Print Applied Technology uses vegetable based inks where possible on its presses reducing the detrimental impact that solvent-based inks have on the environment.
Chalk is published by the Australian Education Union Tasmanian Branch. Registered Office: Australian Education Union Tasmanian Branch, Level 1 32 Patrick Street, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia 7000 Telephone 6234 9500 | Facsimile 6234 3052 | www.aeutas.org.au Australia Post registered publication number TBF0510 ISSN1320-7431 President: Terry Polglase [e: firstname.lastname@example.org] State Manager: Chris Lane [e: email@example.com] Editor: Harriet Binet [e: firstname.lastname@example.org] Graphic designer: Wayne Thompson [e: email@example.com] For advertising enquiries and to request a rate sheet please contact Amanda Walker at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 6234 9500.
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three certification will illustrate that we exceed those principles and practices in currently accepted under the international The views and opinions expressed Chalk are those of the contributors and are not necessarily Environmental Management System ISO 14001. those of the AEU. ©Recycled Australian Education Union Tasmanian Branch. All rights reserved. Except under PAT promotes and uses FSC certified, or Australian made carbon neutral papers wherever possible. Using papers certified as National Carbon Offset Standard (NCOS) supports the Tasmanian Government’s initiatives for action on climate change and, through the use of the NCOS carbon neutral logoCopyright below, provides the Tasmanian Government with and subsequent amendments, no part of this the conditions described in the Act 1968 an opportunity to demonstrate that commitment to the community. publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any Complementing these initiatives is our commitment to also secure international Environmental Management System Accreditation ISO) 14001. means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of Print Applied Technology will remain ever vigilant in reducing the impact of its operations on the environment delivering better-valued services to our customers and the community. the copyright owner.
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disruptive classroom dynamics A student ‘swinging from the chandeliers’ may not be your fault but it is always partly your responsibility. Classroom behaviour specialist Glen Pearsall reveals the ‘subtle craft’ of managing groups of students through changing classroom dynamics. This article contains extracts from Glen Pearsall’s book Classroom Dynamics (TLN Press 2012.)
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ecently, I had the privilege of working with Graduate and Pre-service teachers as part of the Australian Education Union’s “PD in the Pub” program. It was incredible to see such large numbers taking time out from busy schedules to attend these workshops. The most common question asked at the end of those sessions was: “How do I turn around a difficult class?” The teachers who asked me this question were at pains to point out that the students in these classes were well-meaning and engaging as individuals but just didn’t seem to work as a group that well. As one teacher from Hobart put it to me: “They’re cooperative in the play ground, great to talk to individually but just somehow they forget all that in my room.” Sometimes classes get off on the wrong foot. Sometimes student groups can lose their way. Occasionally, both of these things happen. Sometimes this is not your fault but as a teacher it is always, at least partly, your responsibility. The needs and demands of a single learner are complex. The interactions between an entire group of learners as well as their teacher are highly complicated. It is no wonder then that class groups can sometimes be dysfunctional. But how do you change this? There are no easy solutions but there are
some aspects of your practice that you can review if you want to try to turn around class dynamics. The R.E.S.E.T method groups effective strategies into five categories – Reflect, Engage, Seek support, Empathise, Teach assertively. The R.E.S.E.T method Reflect Review your role in the class dynamic. Have you put in place rules and procedures that support students to be active and responsible class members? Engage Consider the transformative effect of quality activities. Have you reviewed what and how students are learning to ensure it is highly engaging? Seek Support Ensure you have a collaborative approach to managing challenging classes. Have you asked for school-level support to back up the actions you take in the classroom? Empathise Take a supportive approach to students
Cooperative Classrooms checklist
Sometimes classes get off on the wrong foot. Sometimes student groups can lose their way. Occasionally, both of these things happen. Sometimes this is not your fault but as a teacher it is always, at least partly, your responsibility.
whose behaviour is out of their control. Do you have strategies for supporting students who can’t behave? Teach Assertively Have firm expectations about appropriate behaviour and insist that all class members maintain this standard. Do you have strategies for managing challenging students who won’t behave? The strategy is that when something goes wrong in your classroom, concentrate not on the students but on your own teaching — you can always control what you do in class. The power of this approach is evident when you have to deal with multiple examples of poor behaviour from a single class. When this happens there is an understandable tendency for teachers to replay the incidents in detail. “What should I have done differently when they did that?” “When they said that, I could have said this…” “Would it have been better to just ignore that behaviour?” However, sometimes it is more effective to review the systems you have in place to avoid such incidents, rather than dissecting the event. Concentrate on your techniques for promoting responsible behaviour and
aim for excellence not perfection. A Cooperative Classrooms Checklist is a great tool for doing this. Whenever an incident occurs or a group is challenging, you can use it as a starting point for dealing with the problem. Is there a gap in the way the students understand their rights and responsibilities? Could I have avoided an incident by having another class procedure already in place? Have I developed the right strategies to address off-task behaviour in a low-key way? Are the values I want my class to demonstrate actually reflected in our everyday practice? A checklist doesn’t provide immediate answers; rather it helps you identify the correct question. Identifying what aspect of your own practice to polish is probably the most important aspect of teacher development. After all a person’s commitment to teaching is personal but how to get the most out of that commitment is really about refining your strategies. Let’s take, as an example, an incident from a Tasmanian teacher. After repeated requests for a student to pay attention to a classmate’s presentation, the student was asked to move to a table on their own. Instead of complying, the student argued with the teacher at length and other classmates
1. Have you sought lots of information and feedback about your students’ abilities and experiences? 2. Have you established a no put-down rule? 3. Do you share with your students a common vocabulary about cooperative behaviour? 4. Does your curriculum design cater to different learning styles and abilities? 5. Is the work challenging enough? 6. Are your students engaged in their work? 7. Do you have a range of praise strategies to keep students on-task? (Cross-praise and proximity reminders are two well-known examples.) 8. Have you practised some pivot phrases such as “That’s not the issue right now” to redirect students back to the task at hand? 9. Do you have a clear incremental ladder of consequences for inappropriate or off-task behaviours? 10. Do you have a rallying call or greeting and attention getting rituals? 11. Do you employ ‘referent’ and ‘expert’ power, the most under-utilised examples of the five kinds of teacher authority? 12. Do students have a strong idea of what kinds of practice you value? Do you behave according to those values in the everyday classroom? 13. Do you avoid hollow rules, ensuring that you follow through on what you say will happen as a result of unwanted behaviours? 14. Do you have non-verbal signals for keeping students on-task and avoiding interruptions? 15. Do you use more affirmations than commands in the classroom? 16. Have you separated behaviour and student?
joined to ‘defend’ their friend. Instead of dwelling on the incident itself, the teacher could review their technique for how they address this type of situation. Have they established with the group a protocol about not interrupting when a teacher is challenging another student? Are they familiar with a wide variety of verbal and non-verbal reminders such as pivotwords, the “don’t interrupt” hand gesture and cross-praise which are effective for getting students back on task? Could the class work be more engaging so as to help avoid this situation arising in the first place? Could the teacher have made peer-marking part of the presentation assessment so students are compelled to listen more attentively to their classmates? The “PD in the Pub” program offers practical strategies like these to add to your list of teaching techniques. Or as one teacher jokingly observed: “I came for the free drink but left with a few things I’ll try with the Year Nines!” rE
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Social media #101: trolls and idiots
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Clouds of controversy circle social media with concerns ranging from privacy to ‘predators’. Deborah Vaughan, PR and marketing consultant at Font Public Relations, imparts two gems of advice to avoid trouble — “Do Not Feed The Trolls” and don’t be an idiot!
ustralians have come to love social media, particularly Facebook. According to new data from Essential Research* when all age groups are considered, Facebook is Australia’s second most popular communications platform — behind email but ahead of SMS. However, among those aged 18-34, Facebook is by far the most popular communications platform (voted as the first choice among 49% of research respondents, with SMS coming in second at 28%). Australians aged under 18 were not polled, but it’s a safe bet Facebook also leads the charge in this demographic. With so many young Australians on Facebook every day, it is more essential than ever to keep across the medium and maintain awareness of these issues and potential pitfalls for the unwary. And there’s quite a few. In addition to relatively well-publicised issues, such as privacy and predators, a growing phenomenon is Trolls. The practice of trolling has attracted substantial attention in recent months, and refers to individuals who hold multiple accounts on social media, which they use to post inflammatory material that can be highly insulting and even violent and threatening. When television personality Charlotte Dawson was admitted to hospital in August after having been targeted by vicious social media trolls, it attracted debate about how best to deal with these types of social media posts. While many people feel they should just be ignored (DNFTT is a common piece of advice – Do Not Feed The Trolls), others don’t think they should be allowed to spread their particular form of poison unchecked. If you truly feel compelled to respond, the rule is to wait. Give yourself time to calm down, and remember, responding in kind only encourages the troll. So if you must
reply, restrain your comments to something innocuous. “Thank you for your interest” is a common suggestion. Unlike celebrities, most of us won’t attract trolls all that often on social media, and by ignoring and immediately blacklisting them from your news feed, they are usually dealt with quickly. What is perhaps more relevant, particularly for people aged under 18, is use of judgement when posting on social media. Despite numerous examples where famous individuals have famously posted inappropriate comments and suffered significant consequences as a result, this guideline is frequently overlooked. It was two years ago, but swimmer Stephanie Rice has never really recovered after posting this on Twitter: “S*ck on that f*gg*ts. Probs the best game I’ve ever seen!! Well done boys.” Accused of homophobia, she lost lucrative sponsorships and was widely vilified for what was generally agreed afterwards to be a thoughtless lapse in judgement. The fact that she has continued to follow this up with provocative photos of herself makes Rice a great case study for how to get it wrong on social media and undermine your reputation. More recently, surfwear company Mambo displayed poor taste with this: “28 deg. today with the sun gently basting naked beach bodies. Reason #27 why those poor asylum seekers would risk their life to get here?” Slammed as insensitive, stupid and ignorant, the company quickly apologised. While a company the size of Mambo should have better controls and policy checks in place to prevent these kinds of PR disasters, when it comes to young adults and teenagers, simple is better. American business magazine Forbes, recently published this succinct piece of advice: “Don’t be an idiot — it’s the only social media policy that matters…. And if you must say something idiotic, don’t tweet it.” That pretty much says it all. *Crikey: Bernard Keene, ‘Which social media do Australians use most?’, crikey.com.au, 4 September 2012
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Holyoake offers specialised professional development opportunities for education staff on managing students with addictive behaviours and/or emotional regulation issues. Contact Holyoake on 03 6224 1777, email email@example.com or visit the website at www.holyoake.com.au for further details.
your shout Binge drinking is embedded in Australian culture and about 20 per cent of teenagers under 18 have used drugs. Sarah Charlton, Holyoake Tasmania CEO, poses a confronting in-class scenario and advocates strategies of compassion, not punishment.
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Mikayla is a 14-year-old persistently disruptive student in your class, absent on many occasions without reason. Her behaviour has led you to strongly suspect she is drinking heavily, although she denies this. One afternoon during a class she suddenly turns her desk upside down, swears at you and walks out of the room. You ask her what’s going on and she tells you to f*ck off and pushes you against a wall. Your options are: A. Suspend Mikayla and press assault charges. B. Find out what’s happening in her life. What do you choose?
The increasing media exposure of sporting and television celebrities serves to further normalise this behavior amongst our impressionable youth.
A culture of alcohol Drinking alcohol is intrinsic to Australian culture and customary. Alcohol is used to celebrate or commiserate every conceivable social or private event, by all parts of society. Drinking brings friends together. It’s expected. It’s Australian. Have you ever observed the reaction when someone refuses a drink at the pub: “What’s wrong with you?”, “Did you have a big one last night?” It is the norm to drink, and considered unnatural and even rude to abstain from this deeply embedded cultural ritual.
Why do young people use alcohol and drugs? Adolescence is a time of discovering new experiences and taking risks. Young people are experimenting with relationships, sex, food and it is often a natural curiosity that leads them to try alcohol and drugs. This has been the case throughout the ages and wasn’t any different for today’s parents when they were young. Young people will experiment with drugs and alcohol because of fairly common behaviours of risk taking, rebellion and peer pressure. The more problematic reasons relate to ‘self-medication’ and a need to reduce stress or cope with physical or emotional pain. It’s very important for those who work with young people to really consider the reasons why a certain behavior is being displayed. Alcohol and drugs may be used as a means of avoiding problems associated with family life, school or work frustrations, friendship and relationship difficulties, low self-esteem and/or depression. The Australian Drug Foundation identifies that young people who cope positively with life’s ups and downs have one or more “protective factors”. These protective factors help make young people more resilient, and include:
he ‘Mikayla scenario’ may be all too familiar for some educators and schools in Tasmania and Holyoake understands the distress and disruption that these incidences cause school communities. However, the stark reality is that school can often be the ‘safest’ place for an at-risk young person and, if we take that away from them, we are essentially abandoning them. We would therefore strongly advocate “Option B” and referral to our services and support networks as the next step in dealing with Mikayla. Holyoake Tasmania provides specialist counselling and education for children, adolescents, adults, families and communities whose lives are adversely affected by alcohol, drugs, gambling or other addictive behaviours. We offer on-the-ground support and can send an employee to a school or college to offer assistance and access to our programs and networks.
2010 National Drug Strategy Tasmanian Household Survey: 86% of over 14s had recently used alcohol (National average is 80.5%) 9% of over 14s had recently used cannabis 5% of 12–17 year olds drink weekly 7.2% of over 14s drink daily In the 12–17 year age group, 39.1% of females drink alcohol (daily, weekly or less than weekly), compared with 37.6% of males 19% of 14–17 year olds have used an illegal drug. Cannabis is the most used illegal drug, with 11% of 12 to 17 yearolds having used it at least once.
“We need to look behind the behaviour and at the heart is often a very frightened child.”
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Strong family bonds, with clear rules about behaviour and responsibilities • A strong sense of self-worth • A good network of friends, and involvement in sporting or interest groups • Opportunities to contribute to meaningful experiences at home, school and in the community • High and positive expectations of themselves and others. The reality is many children in our schools don’t have these “protective factors”. Students are not in a stable family where values are sound, the role of parents is not defined and the family won’t work with the school if they ‘slip off the tracks’. Then there are students who endure a combination of other factors — unemployed parents; emotional, physical and sexual abuse; introduction to drugs by their parents; ‘in and out’ of foster homes; frequent exposure to violence; parents who don’t really give a damn. What about these students? These are typical scenarios of some of the young people we see at Holyoake. They are angry, grieving lost parts of their lives. They want to numb the pain in their lives. They want to feel good. And so they use drugs and alcohol to cope. Behaviour is ‘language’ If a student is acting up there is always a reason behind the behaviour though it may not always be apparent. They may not be able to express what is happening in their life in an appropriate way, but their challenging behaviour is a true indicator that something isn’t OK. We need to know how to understand what they are saying. The Holyoake model strongly supports early intervention strategies in the minimisation of harm to young people. This may include family or carer interventions aimed at improving parenting or carer skills. Direct intervention with the child may aim to build resilience, strategies to resist peer pressure, anger management, communication skills, and developing general life-skill strategies. The traditional methods of dealing with young people using drugs or alcohol in the school setting are typically punitive and isolating. Add that to all the other issues in their lives and the outcome may not be helpful or restorative in any way for either the school or  Chalk Summer 2012/13
the student. We need to look behind the behaviour and at the heart is often a very frightened child. How to help? It’s understandable that some teachers believe that they don’t have the time or resources to help a student like Mikayla. The reality is that your actions may help improve her social outcomes and shape her future direction in life. Mikayla was referred to counselling and through the process it was discovered that she had a litany of personal and family issues. She had been binge drinking and recently had unprotected sex while she was drunk and was worried she may be pregnant. Through intensive counselling and support, Mikayla was able to re-establish some contact with her mother and obtain sexual health advice. She has reduced her cannabis intake and now only drinks on weekends. She is back at school full-time, and her attendance has improved. She sees the school counsellor weekly, and continues to attend Holyoake. Warning signs It is often not easy to tell if someone is using drugs or alcohol. People of all ages, social circumstances and occupations use mindaltering substances to make them feel good. A number of factors can increase the likelihood that a person will have a substance use disorder. Related to the individual: • Genetic predisposition (a substance abuse in another family member) • Personality (social isolation, difficulty accepting rules and authority) • Poor coping skills • Educational problems • Early age of first use • Strong personal motivations to use • Traumatic experiences (child abuse) • Low socioeconomic status • Poor or adverse peer influences • Lack of community support. Related to the family: • Patterns of negative communication • Poor family cohesion and relationships • Parental monitoring, discipline or family management techniques • Poor role models (parents using drugs or alcohol) Drugs and alcohol have different effects on different people and there is not a com-
Suggested guidelines for managing Mikayla Remove Mikayla from the classroom and talk to her in private, not ever in front of other students or teachers. Try not to concentrate on the behaviour at this point – you can get to that later. Ask her what is happening in her life and be prepared for tears. • is she okay physically, emotionally? • any relationship hassles? • what is happening at home? • is she safe? (remember mandatory reporting obligations) Seek appropriate professional help. • refer to a school counsellor/social worker • refer to Holyoake — we can come to your school to meet with students Recognise your own limitations, and seek support from specialists (such as Holyoake) on strategies you can utilise in the long term. Ideally for Mikayla it would be better if police were not involved in these early stages, but if they are, they would usually refer to a community service like Holyoake. After you have offered Mikayla support, and listened to her, reinforce the boundaries and expectations of her behaviour in class. Follow your school’s policy and procedures. Take the time to touch base with her regularly.
mon list of symptoms that can be used to tell if someone is in trouble. However, there are frequent signs of drug and alcohol abuse: • changes in behaviour and mood swings • drop in academic performance • difficulty concentrating • lack of personal grooming • loss of interest in hobbies and sports • agitation/aggression • fatigue • depression rE
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Buck stops with feds on tafe Pat Forward, the AEU’s Federal TAFE Secretary, says the Gillard Government has the ‘financial levers’ to stop ongoing decimation of TAFEs and Public VET but has failed to act. Meanwhile, the Tasmanian Government is negotiating its National Agreement that will shape the future of TAFE in the state.
he Federal Government could save the TAFE system in Victoria, NSW and Queensland by withholding funds using a condition in National Agreements which requires states to properly resource their TAFEs — Victoria, NSW and Queensland are in breach. The Commonwealth could also allocate its funds directly to these state TAFEs. The Federal Government contributes almost 28% of total government revenue for vocational education in Victoria, and 38% nationally. Over the past five years, it has implemented policies which have encouraged rapid growth in private delivery, and then forced state governments to implement that policy by tying it to funding through recent and previous National VET Agreements. The devastation to TAFE in Victoria could be stopped by the Federal Government withholding funding in the recently signed National Agreement for Skills and Workforce Development, and the National Partnership Agreement for Skills Reform. These two Agreements combined are worth nearly $2.2 billion over the next five years in Victoria, and $8.8 billion nationally. This is considerable clout in the cash-strapped VET environment. The previous Labor Government in
Victoria implemented its market reforms — the Victorian Training Guarantee — and was rewarded by the Federal Government in the last National Agreement. As a result, the Victorian VET market, supported by unlimited Victorian and Federal funds, led to massive growth in private for profit providers, many of which have been found to be of poor quality. The shift in delivery in Victoria saw TAFE’s market share drop to 45%, while private providers’ market share grew to 46%. Most of the private provider growth was in high volume low cost delivery. This market shift damaged TAFE because it could not compete on volume with poor quality private providers. Tasmania has so far been sheltered from the storm happening in TAFEs and VET interstate but there could be tough times ahead. TAFE is undergoing a critical reform with the formation of the new TasTAFE entity and the State Government is in negotiations with the Federal Government over its new National Agreement. The Federal Government says states that cut TAFE budgets are putting their Federal VET funding at risk, but they are shying away from wielding any meaningful action to bring states into line.
In Queensland, the Government’s Taskforce has recommended the closure of almost half of the state’s TAFE campuses. In NSW the government has announced funding cuts and job losses of more than 800 over the next few years. The Federal Government has billions of dollars invested in TAFE, in addition to the $8.8b attached to both National Agreements. It is poor public policy to allow the destruction of TAFE institutes and even worse economic policy as these assets will never ever be rebuilt. The Federal Government has the power to force state governments to back-down from their budget cuts. It has a great deal to gain politically and electorally by choosing to save the public TAFE system.
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In brief Power and the passion
AEU Reps Joy Coates and Dave Maddern were part of the inaugural AEU Tasmanian Branch Acting Officer Program. Joy, a music teacher at Beaconsfield Primary School, reveals her inspiration for the labour movement struggle and the ‘cooking talents’ of the AEU’s Northern Organiser. My interest in unionism was sparked in my teens while listening to bands like Red Gum, Goanna and Billy Bragg — yes I was a bit of a dag! Over the years my knowledge and understanding of the labour movement has been greatly informed by music and it was the “songs of the workers”, as well as extensive travel in non-unionised countries that led me to fully comprehend the power of belonging to a union. The Acting Officer Program wasn’t all singing and dancing though! Dave Maddern, a teacher at Ridgley Primary School in the North West, was a fellow Acting Officer and we partook of various activities with AEU staff around the state. I spent much of my time ‘shadowing’ Matt Brown, the AEU’s Northern Organiser. In addition to looking after the needs of members in and around Launceston and parts of the North West Coast, he makes a fairly impressive Vegemite Scroll (contact him to cater for your next event)! The rest of my time was spent in Hobart, meeting with Officers, finding out about their various roles and visiting school and Polytechnic campuses. I was fortunate also to be able to attend the annual Reps Conference, a meeting of all AEU Officers and the annual Branch Council meeting. I have been an AEU Rep for a few years and a Union member since 1993, my first year of teaching. I applied for the program because I had reached a time in my life when I wanted to start acting more on my beliefs. I admit that I had often been one of those teachers who said: “The Union should …”, not
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realising that I was the Union, that we are all “the Union”! The experience was inspiring and enlightening. I gained insights into the structure of the Union, roles of individual Officers and how the Council and Executive contribute to the whole of the AEU. Equally importantly, I have developed a deeper understanding of the valuable role of workplace Reps, such as myself. Of the many insights, perhaps the most important, was the realisation that AEU Reps and individual Sub-Branches can, and should, be a powerful presence in every education workplace. Thankfully in Australia we do not risk our lives when we fight for fair pay and conditions, unlike in many developing countries. Nevertheless, given the challenges facing our sector in the next two years, the words of our esteemed Federal Minister for Schools, Mr Peter Garrett, might inspire every Union member into action: “It’s better to die on your feet than to live on your knees”. The Power and the Passion, Midnight Oil. rE
From little things, big things grow
Another tough year has passed for Support Staff in their battle against Stand Down. Linda Wishart, AEU Support Staff Organiser, says membership has grown and many are optimistic that “something good is about to happen…!” The past six months have been challenging to say the least, with budget cuts having an impact on workplaces. Workload has increased, however in many cases hours have been reduced, placing pressure on our Support Staff members to do even more with less. Membership continues to grow, and as our membership increases, so will our strength and resolve. Our representation on AEU Branch Council has increased and we now have seven Allied Staff Councillors. We also have 86 AEU Support Staff Reps in work-
places which is raising our profile and giving us a voice. Our aim is to have a Support Staff Rep in every workplace; therefore we encourage members to become involved so our voice will become stronger and louder! The battle against Stand Down continues, with a concerted campaign planned in the lead up to the next state election. The enthusiasm and dedication of members in supporting us in our endeavours gives us the encouragement we need. Our members know that we will continue to pursue the DoE and Government, until a mutually agreeable outcome is achieved. In the words of one of our members: “something good is about to happen” — let’s hang on to that belief! We must continue to be strong and united; Support Staff, Teachers and Principals: you are the Union and together we will achieve.
Outstanding teachers in public education from Hobart and Flinders Island have notched up state and national awards. Emma and Holly report … Yo u n g ach i e ve r s
Are you mad?
Emma Aorangi, a recipient of the Pride of Australia Inspiration Award, was a finalist in the 2012 Southern Cross Young Achiever University of Tasmania, Faculty of Education Teaching Excellence Awards. I spent my early years teaching at Rokeby High School striving to instil a sense of social justice in students through my role as ruMAD? Coordinator. The program, delivered by the Tasmanian Centre for Global Learning, is a toolkit to enable young people to lead social change and that’s exactly what we did. We organised concerts to raise money for families living in extreme poverty in Cambodia, and for an orphanage
in Nepal. Using ruMAD?, we also hosted child rights and youth action events; school-based community fundraisers and were part of a documentary — Your Home, Our World project. During this time I also co-authored a teacher’s guide section with the Tasmanian authors of Magic Tools to Overcome Bullying to empower young people and encourage selfbelief and resilience. Rokeby High School experienced its highest levels of engagement and attendance, an achievement I’m hoping to transfer to my current role at Jordan River Learning Federation Middle School Campus. Yo u n g ach i e ve r s
My island home
Holly Barnewall, winner of the Southern Cross Young Achiever University of Tasmania, Faculty of Education Teaching Excellence Award, and Tasmanian Young Australian of the Year. Moving from a small regional community like Flinders Island to complete secondary education in Launceston can be intimidating. Many of our students have struggled with the transition and many don’t even attempt the move. For others, the pull of familiarity of the island wins out. My parents were able to leave Flinders to support me in education but, like my peers, I struggled with different social parameters, larger class sizes and finding my way around. I was lucky enough not to have to worry about how to pay the rent, the right machine wash setting for my woollens or whether my budget would allow enough greens in my diet! Flinders Council’s Community Development Officer, Stacey Wheatley, and I teamed up in 2009 to work on a transition program. The partnership between Council and Flinders Island District High School (FIDHS) has recently broadened to include Newstead College and our partnership broker, Tasmanian Life Long Learning (TL3). The program
teaches life skills such as budgeting, nutrition cooking and conflict resolution. Newstead College students have work placements on Flinders Island, stay with local families and become mentors for our Year 10s when they begin Year 11 in Launceston. The program has proved successful and is valued by students and parents while the Flinders Council and FIDHS provide funding. However, we are always seeking grants and sponsorship — primarily for flights which are $344 per person return.
Five steps to better managing your superannuation
Would you rather be planning a holiday than thinking about superannuation? As strange as it seems, by following these five simple steps, you could end up doing both!
1. Know your scheme — get educated and you can get ready for a well-funded retirement. It is worth the time to understand your scheme and its benefits. 2. Combine your super accounts — chances are you have had different jobs which may have left you with accounts with different super funds. Consolidating your super can help you save on account fees and build up your super balance faster. Find lost super using SuperSeeker on the Australian Tax Office website www.ato.gov.au, then download the relevant rollover form from www.rbf.com.au. 3. Make a plan — get good information and advice and you can budget for now, budget for later, and progress with confidence in your personal wealth creation. 4. Add extra — for the cost of your weekly coffees, you could make a big difference to your retirement lifestyle. There are a number of ways you can add extra. Find out which options could work for you. 5. Practise patience — like some of the best things in life, super takes time. Take stock of what matters most and appreciate the need to think long term.
RBF is the specialist in Tasmanian public sector superannuation. If you would like more information on any aspect of your superannuation please call the RBF Enquiry Line on 1800 622 631 or visit our website at rbf.com.au. If you would like RBF Business Relationship Officer Phil Claxton to come to your workplace, please call 6233 6008 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Retirement Benefits Fund Board (ABN 97 724 593 931) is the trustee for the Retirement Benefits Fund (ABN 51 737 334 954). This information is not intended to be and should not be relied upon as legal, financial or other advice. It has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on it you should determine whether it is appropriate for your circumstances, consider talking to a financial adviser and review the ‘Welcome to RBF’ brochure at www.rbf.com.au.
Gonski campaign report
We have achieved great results through the hard work of members and supporters but the job’s not done and needs a final push for 2012. Harriet Binet, Campaigns Officer, updates. The Federal Government has made the right noises about school funding reform but we haven’t seen the legislation and there will be lots of ‘argy-bargy’ between the Federal and State Governments over who pays. We must maintain the pressure on all politicians to ensure there are no backward steps and that we get Gonski recommendations implemented in full. If you have not yet registered for the campaign, please go to the igiveagonski website and do it now! Check that your colleagues, family and friends have also signed-up. The national campaign has registered over 50,000 supporters but more are needed. In the middle of November, supporters wore out some shoe leather door knocking neighbours for the letter-box campaign — Do your block for Gonski. Thousands of flyers and letters were delivered around Australia urging people to register on the igiveagonski website. The first half of 2013 will be the next critical phase in the campaign leading up to COAG and could be make-or-break time for Gonski. See you on the campaign trail in the New Year! Chalk Summer 2012/13 
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a womanâ€™s work is never â€Ś
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“Teacher quality” is touted as the Holy Grail of boosting education outcomes. Dr Catherine Scott, education researcher, doubts it’s a fair dinkum approach to improving student performance but typical of scrutiny applied only to feminised professions.
oncern about the competence of teachers has been in evidence for several decades at least. The push to ensure a “great” teacher in every class remains a feature of education policy and advocacy. Exactly what defines a “great” teacher is not so clear and is characterised by various synonyms of great: “highly qualified”, “highly effective”. Often the term favoured is “quality” meaning high grade; superior; excellent; “great”, in other words. Interestingly, other professions do not find themselves similarly pressed to achieve exalted levels of professional practice. The phrase “Improving teacher quality” as an internet search term yields more than 40 pages amounting to 3,180 results and substituting a synonym for “quality” produces many more. In contrast, “improving doctor quality” yielded three results only; “improving plumber quality” no results, and none either for “improving engineer quality”. “Improving lawyer quality” yielded two results. ”Improving nurse quality” yielded two pages of results, several of which were concerned with “improving nurse quality of life” or similar. Arguably the well-being of society depends on acceptable levels of competence among all professions and trades and certainly incompetent doctors and nurses are a threat to the very lives of citizens. Why there
is such an emphasis on outstanding teaching practice requires examination, even if we have come to accept periodic panics about teacher quality as reflecting something real. Indeed, so strident and ubiquitous are demands to make teaching practice not just competent but superlative, it can be difficult to step back and ask why the profession is regarded as ‘broken’ and, further, why proficiency is not good enough when it comes to teaching? While those who proclaim an urgent need to fix or improve the teaching profession claim a variety of supporting evidence, one factor that does not make it into public debates may be the most important. That factor is gender stereotypes and their continuing influence. Like it or not, and discuss it publicly or not, many or most traditional gender stereotypes and beliefs are lurking just below the surface and influence our judgements of people and our thinking about social issues. Most pertinent for the current discussion is that, in general, men are regarded as more competent than women. This belief about comparative competence has profound consequences for the way in which men’s and women’s performance is judged. In a nutshell, while the expected standard of performance for women is lower than that expected of men, women are not judged as equal in competence to men unless their performance is exceptional and well above
For m inno en it’s prov cent unt i but f en guilty l in fe or wome m prof inised n reve essions i t they rsed and ’s of in ’re guilty unti compete n l be ex proven ce t cept iona o l! the male
norm. “... research indicates that a different standard exists in the evaluation of the performance of men and women. Because less is expected of women than of men, the minimum standard for performance is set lower for women, and the standard for high competence is set higher than it is for men. In order to be considered as able as a man, a woman must show clear evidence that her performance is superior to his .... Unfortunately this places extra demands on women and girls to show exceptional competence in order to be taken seriously...” (Carli 2001, p.729) These shifting standards of competence apply not only to women when compared to men but to any stigmatised group compared to a group regarded as more competent. Biernat, Fuegen and Kobrynowicz (2010) have tested and proven these predictions empirically. “Because standards differ for members of different groups, subjective evaluations of a man versus a woman or a Black versus a White
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are not directly comparable: “Competent” for a woman does not mean the same thing as “competent” for a man; “hardworking” does not mean the same thing when it is applied to a Black versus White employee. And because of stereotype-based low minimum standards for women and Blacks on such attributes, more evidence of competence or motivation is needed for them to confirm that they do, in fact, possess these qualities.” Related to the perception that women are not as competent as men is the belief that anything that mostly women do requires less skill than male activities. While commentators are wont to remark that women tend to congregate in “low skill” occupations characterised by low pay, it is more accurate to say that work that is performed by women is regarded as low skill and is accordingly undervalued and underpaid. “Skilled trade” calls up images of plumbers or electricians, but certainly not typists or hairdressers. The stigma attached to men who do the latter work is informative. In addition, men as a group have higher status than women, which leads to their possessing a “status shield” that protects the individual bearer against attack, recrimination or abuse. In contrast, those with less status find themselves more often the subjects of complaints and overt criticism. Men’s and women’s comparative status and beliefs about men’s and women’s differing levels of competence are both of significance for the social standing of teaching and perceptions of it. Teaching is a feminised profession and becoming more so. Inevitably talking and thinking about teaching leads to calling upon gender stereotypes. Lurking beliefs about women’s basic lack of competence and their identity as ‘easy targets’ open teaching to the sorts of attacks that are a staple of public discourse. That women ‘do teaching’ makes it immediately prey to suspicions that the work is low level and probably not performed well. That entry into teaching requires a university education does not prove that practitioners are competent. After all, we ‘go easy on the ladies’ and probably let them through even though they have not
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done very well; that, or the courses are not very taxing or high level, certainly not ‘rocket science’. Shadow Minister for Education, Christopher Pyne, has publicly described a teaching degree as the “easy option” (Ferrari, 2012). Unease that degrees that graduate large numbers of women must be, by their nature, not up to scratch is manifested by the sheer number of inquiries into teacher education programs.
The cartoon shows a teacher who has her pupils enthralled because she is a “quality teacher”. She is no mere mortal but a superhero, her womanly inadequacy disguised and contained within masculine musculature — it says it all, really!
In Australia there has been, on average, one major state or national enquiry into teacher education every year for the past 30 years. No other program of professional preparation has warranted such scrutiny. Looked at dispassionately, this nagging concern speaks of something not quite rational, or at least not properly articulated. I would contend that there is a belief that university disciplines with majority women graduates are too low level and explain the waste of time, effort and public money spent on end-
less reviews and enquiries. That less is expected of women may thus set the stage for beliefs that the average quality of teaching is bound to be insufficient: what is good enough when done by a woman is really just not, well, good enough. When it comes to judgements of the competence of a group believed to be incompetent, suspicion equals confirmation, that is, merely being suspected of incompetence is sufficient proof that female teachers are incompetent. Following on from beliefs about comparative competence the only way that female teachers can prove that they are of equal ability to their male peers is to be exceptional. In other words, female teachers are expected to be more than proficient; they must be a kind of “super-teacher”. Workers in male dominated professions are automatically assumed to be competent. This expectation, or assumption, means that the level of evidence required to prove incompetence is very high. For men it’s innocent until proven guilty but for women in feminised professions it’s reversed and they’re guilty of incompetence until proven to be exceptional! Lack of evidence of exceptional performance equates to proof of incompetence. Because there is little to suggest that most professionals are unable to fulfil their duties they are not repeatedly accused of incapacity. In addition the relevant programs of professional preparation are not subject to repeated rounds of inquiry and scrutiny. Occasionally the competent male worker versus the incompetent female (teacher) comparison is openly stated, with no hint of irony. Take this example from The Boston Globe: “if a plumbing company or a law firm was doing as poor a job as some Boston public schools, they wouldn’t have any clients” (Abraham, 2011). Some students don’t do well at school; lawyers lose cases; doctors and psychiatrists treat patients who fail to recover and may even die. However, only teachers are stigmatised for failing to achieve superhuman feats of professional performance. In debates over teacher quality and train-
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ing, there are contradictory claims. Shadow Minister for Education, Christopher Pyne, advocates for more rigorous teacher training while simultaneously lauding Teach For America/Australia programs that parachute the under-trained into schools. The belief that women’s work is by its very nature unskilled calls into question the necessity to train for a teaching career. Programs like Teach for America/Aus-
feminised than teaching but there have been no recurrent panics about the quality of nursing or nurse education. The context is different in that nurses are safely nestled in a hierarchy controlled by male doctors and surgeons. Nurses are under the supervision of men and this renders their supposed ‘lack of competence’ less of a threat. Teachers, in comparison, work in class-
(male) principals, teachers’ innate womanish incompetence can be contained and controlled. No similar calls are made for routine observations of the work of other professionals or tradespeople, who by presumption are male and thus able to do their jobs. An individual obsession with an idea for which there is dubious or no evidence and the compulsive repetition of stereotypical acts would warrant a diagnosis of some
tralia draw on this unarticulated estimation of women’s work as lacking any particular expertise, making it acceptable to place untrained people in classrooms (as long as those people are “exceptional”). As stated on the Teach For Australia (TFA) website, they recruit “outstanding recent graduates and transform them into exceptional teachers and inspirational leaders”. It is teaching after all, so merely proficient is not good enough. The case of nursing may be seen to test the theory that gender stereotypes underpin attitudes to teaching. Nursing is even more
rooms away from scrutiny and immediate supervision. It is instructive that ‘remedies’ for the ‘poor standard’ of teaching frequently involve increasing formal performance management. Advocates call for more supervision and oversight of teaching practice, usually by (presumably male) principals, which includes direct observation of teaching. Included in this magic fix is usually an insistence that principals are able to hire and fire their own staff, with this exercise of power presumably guaranteeing better performance. Thus safely under the supervision of
Illustration: Wayne Thompson
Lurking beliefs about women’s basic lack of competence and their identity as ‘easy targets’ open teaching to the sorts of attacks that are a staple of public discourse. pathological issue. Our societal obsession with the inadequacy of the teaching force, and the repetitive nature of the remedies proposed to fix this unproven deficit, are accepted as right and necessary. However, if my argument is correct, obsessions with teacher quality and endless investigations into the profession and its preparation will continue unabated until the deep-seated stereotypes that underpin the groundless belief that teachers are incompetent are unveiled, acknowledged and discussed. rE
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I sex education: promoting health or promiscuity?
Family Planning Tasmania advocates f-words when talking about sex education — be “frank” and “frequent”. Allison Bligh, Manager, Education, Training and Health Promotion, says comprehensive sexual health education reduces promiscuity and vulnerability to sexual abuse, and delays onset of sexual activity.
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t’s one of those topics that create giggles in the classroom, tension for teachers and strong reactions from parents. And all this makes sense: no topic in society is quite as volatile, sensitive and private as that concerning our sexual health and relationships. Add in primary school children and everyone has an opinion. Family Planning Tasmania Inc. (FPT) has taught sexual health and relationship education in Tasmanian primary schools, private and public, for 40 years. They have also provided years of professional training for teachers and social sector workers and continue to lobby the State Government to adopt it as a compulsory part of the State curriculum. The Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority’s (ACARA) draft Health and Physical Education curriculum is entering its final stages. This curriculum will require biological body changes (i.e. puberty) to be discussed in Years 5 and Year 6. This is an acknowledgment of the reality that children are becoming sexually aware and sexually active at a younger age, and brings Australia in line with its international obligations under UNESCO that it is a right of children to access information about “safe and respectful social and sexual behaviours”. But what does it mean in the classroom? FPT’s experience and the evidence make it clear to us that the healthiest way to protect children from early and unwanted sexual activity is to make discussions about bodies, puberty and relationships a normal part of learning. Studies by researchers Briggs and Hawkins find that comprehensive sexual health and relationships education programs are likely to reduce vulnerability to sexual abuse and can both delay the onset of sexual activity and reduce the number of sexual partners.
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An example of questions asked by Year 5 and 6 students at a Tasmanian school in 2012: Can you have sex if you are circumcised? How old do you have to be to have sex? Is it strange to want to have your period? Why do people have sex so young? Every day FPT educators see the consequences of society’s reluctance to talk about sexual feelings and our bodies, including a sense of being ‘bad’, a lack of power in relationships and using the Internet for information, where pornography and pornographic images are the main role models of behaviour. Children are curious about their bodies from a very early age and it’s vital to face their sometimes entertaining or embarrassing questions with serious answers that demonstrate the importance of the topic while using words that are age appropriate and meaningful. Ideally all parents would have relationships with their kids that allow them to have well-informed, up-to-date, frank and frequent conversations on these topics, but the reality is that they often cannot. Providing information in age appropriate terms through a professional educator can only help our children. Ideally this information would also be delivered to parents so they can discuss the content and their personal ethics and culture with their child. FPT programs offer the opportunity for parents to attend information sessions before the content is delivered to their children. They are also given the option of removing their child from the sessions. For discussions about sexual health and relationships to have meaning, they must be reinforced at home with parents, siblings and other friends and relatives. Revealingly, research into the views of parents about sex and relationship education shows they are quite different from how they are often portrayed loudly in the media. Research in Australia and overseas shows that the majority of parents and carers: • Recognise the importance of sexual health and relationship education
K-10ity & al Sexutionship Relaucation Ed m is culu i curr he FPT’sased on t g: n b i w follo
Expect it to be an integral part of schooling to complement what they are teaching their children at home • Support the expertise of teachers in providing sexual health and relationship education If you have questions about sexual health and relationship education in your school, professional training options, or if you just have a difficult situation, please contact the FPT office in your region. rE
What is special about me and my body? How can I be safe? How do I get on with my family and friends?
Years 1 – 2
What happens to the body as people grow? What rules and resources promote personal safety? How do I show care and respect for others?
Years 3 – 4
What physical changes occur to the body as people grow? What actions can I take to improve my safety and wellbeing and that of others? How do my rights and responsibilities contribute to my connections with other people?
Years 5 – 6
What physical changes are particularly relevant to puberty and how do they affect people’s emotions? What factors influence choices people make to stay safe? How do I make sense of relationships?
How am I changing? Who am I? How do I build and maintain healthy relationships?
What is sexuality? How do I make health enhancing decisions? What is identity? What are my rights and how do I demonstrate respects for the rights of others in relationships?
What is sexual health? What are my rights and responsibilities in relationships? What is diversity?
Sexual decision making: what are the issues? How can I minimise the risk? Understanding sexual identify – what are the issues? How is gender constructed?
Family Planning Tasmania’s sexual health and relationships programs are focussed on three stages — early childhood, middle childhood and senior secondary. In early childhood (Kindergarten to Year 4) the emphasis is on knowing the correct names of body parts, and privacy and personal safety issues (how to say “no” and protective behaviours), what is appropriate and inappropriate for different types of relationships (friends, family, acquaintances), the structure of families, interpersonal skills such as friendship, love and affection, and recognising personal responsibility for health. In middle childhood (Year 5 to Year 8) there is more of a focus on personal identity including relationships, health choices, the body, values and changes. Social and emotional changes brought about by puberty are discussed and myths exposed. Respect for yourself and others, and social and sexual decision making skills are emphasised. Sexually transmitted infections are discussed. Senior secondary (Year 9 to Year 12), sexually transmitted infections, sexuality and sexual health should be addressed in the context of choice and diversity.
Kinder – Prep
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inc. “Today’s sports class was brought to you by our sponsor, McDonald’s”. Jeff Garsed, AEU Tasmanian Branch Research Officer, says the need for revenue and promotion encourages competition for students and may bring commercialisation of schools. “Marketisation” can unlock revenue streams but at what ‘cost’?
arketisation is a process that enables state-owned enterprises, such as public schools, to act like market-oriented companies. In recent years there has been increasing pressure, predominantly from outside education, for schools to be more “business-like” on the assumption that a business culture will make schools more efficient. The result has been to create market conditions in schools, and increasingly, across the education sector. Competition for students School funding depends substantially on student numbers and there is competition in some urban areas between schools — both between individual public schools and between the public and private systems. Open the advertising pages of any Australian daily newspaper and you will find adverts for non-government schools. Nongovernment schools are businesses and they therefore seek to maintain profitability and hence try to maximise their share of the available market through aggressive promotion. Subsidised by tax-payers, some nongovernment schools can afford expensive advertising campaigns to attract parents and ultimately students to their schools. The follow-on effect is that some state schools, particularly in large cities where competition for students is strong, feel they have to spend their own scarce funding on advertising, glossy brochures and a professionally designed website in order to compete. Such a push to compete with the privates can be a drain on a public school’s already-stretched budget. School Autonomy The national move towards greater school autonomy and global budgets adds to the tendency for the marketisation of schooling. In order to supplement global budgetary
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The price tag of the endorsed Gonski Review of school funding, and no clear vision for additional funding streams, may hasten us down the road to the corporate sponsorship of schools.
allocations schools need to either charge higher levies or seek other income streams. Traditional school fundraisers are unlikely to raise sufficient funds. A degree of local autonomy for schools to respond to the needs of their communities has existed in Tasmanian schools for some time. The mantra of school autonomy has been pushed, by both major political parties, on the basis that local decisionmaking power makes schools more responsive to local needs. The idea of greater local budgetary decision-making is attractive to principals and school communities, despite the fact that the model, taken to extremes, can mean massive workloads for principals. In WA’s private/public schools and in Victoria’s Schools for the Future, such autonomy means that principals become business managers but have few real funding ‘levers’ to manipulate. They may be able to increase class sizes and run the school with fewer senior staff but there are educational implications. It is beyond the scope of most schools, even in the most devolved school systems, to radically change the make-up of their teaching staff as there is a finite reserve of available teachers and many schools must work with an existing staff profile. Devolved funding models do however conveniently take the heat off governments who, when questioned about their funding of schools for specific purposes, can assert that the funding for a particular programme, or educational need, is in schools’ funding packages and it is simply a school-based decision how the funds are spent. One of the great strengths of a system of public schools has been a department of education which balances resources and provides a level of equity across schools of differing size and socio-economic setting. Yet, under such autonomous schooling models, the department of education is trimmed down, or as is the case of New Zealand almost ceases to exist,
and schools are left very much on their own to deal with everything from industrial relations, health and safety compliance, building maintenance, even insurance, and there is literally no one to assist. Some extreme autonomy models developed overseas include Free Schools in the UK, an innovation of the Conservative government, which is similar to Free Schools in Sweden and charter schools in the US, where schools are taken out of state control and run by independent organisations. The first 24 Free Schools opened in the UK in 2011 and have been given considerable freedom as these schools: • •
• • •
are not part of the local authority system of schools and are not subject to oversight or inspection by the local authority; do not have to employ qualified teachers – teachers are not required to have Qualified Teacher Status apart from the Special Educational Needs Coordinator and the member of staff responsible for looking after children. Even the Head Teacher does not have to be qualified; do not have to follow the National Curriculum; can determine their own admission criteria; are unlikely to provide the same facilities as other state schools such as halls and IT suites because many will be set up in disused buildings such as shops and offices. can determine their own school day and length of the term and school year and teachers are expected to “work flexibly”; and can set their own pay and conditions for teachers, outside of nationally negotiated agreements.
Partnerships with the corporate sector The corporate sector considers education as a largely untapped market. At the Stand-
ing Council on Schooling Education and Early Childhood Biennial National Education Forum in July 2012, Michael Stevenson, VP Global Education CISCO, made the opening address. Stevenson was clear that business had its eye on education as a potential market and that governments, in turn, are very interested in assistance from corporations in funding education. Australia’s education budget pushes close to an annual $50 billion and state governments, who run schools, have little capacity to generate additional revenue. Given economic circumstances and ideologies of greater “efficiencies” in the government sector, which are given credence by even the Labor economic think-tank, the Grattan Institute, it is likely that we will soon see attempts to co-opt the support of corporations for the funding of our nation’s schools. The price tag of the endorsed Gonski Review of school funding, and no clear vision for additional funding streams, may hasten us down the road to the corporate sponsorship of schools. The concern is that companies want return on their investments, and this will have implications for schools. Some forms of direct sponsorship of school programs would be inappropriate. A school health program sponsored by a fast food chain or the football team funded by a brewery are obvious concerns. Perhaps more concerning are subtler conflicts of interest and potential for ‘strings attached’ funding that prescribe aspects of curriculum. Corporate influence on schools raises considerable concern for the future, as does the broader push towards “marketisation”. Combined, these changes shift the focus of those who lead our schools from educational goals and outcomes to competition, and marketing the school as a corporate entity. Yet, for schools to provide students with the best educational experiences they will need to stay focussed on teaching and learning.
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Paying your dues No office, no staff, no mobile and your President’s a Senator — welcome to unionism Indonesian style. Leanne Wright, AEU Tasmanian Branch Training Officer, says our unions share many public education priorities but our resources are worlds apart.
magine being part of a union where everyone who is a teacher considers themselves to be part of the Union and there is no concept that to belong means to pay union dues. Sound good? It certainly isn’t for the passionate, dedicated souls who care about members’ pay (which in Indonesia can be as low as $20 per month); conditions; and what’s happening in education. There are union leaders there who have very few resources to work with: no union office, no staff; and yet I had the privilege of working with 24 of them who are desperate to make their union stronger, and who had given up three weeks away from their families and bore some of the cost to attend union training in Jakarta. I was part of the John Thompson Fellowship Programme which is run by Education International each year in countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia. Education International consists of 30 million members from 174 countries and the Australian Education Union is one of those. Its purpose is to improve the conditions of teachers across the world, lift the standing of the teaching profession and build public education through the union movement. It recognises that it is only through their unions that teachers have a voice about education. It understands that ensuring quality public education is the first step in eradicating poverty, protecting Human Rights and giving children a chance for a better life.
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Whenever I sat or stood still, they would take photos! In this one, I’m showing off my gift (necklace) from Ir (left).
Each year AEU Federal contributes resources for training of union leaders involved in the programme. In September I set off to Jakarta for 10 days to run training in current union issues, union building, strategic planning, and Human and Child Rights. A few of the participants could speak a little English and fortunately I had two translators because one of them couldn’t understand my Australian accent (apparently most of the
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Always singing! Union training takes a break to boost spirits through song.
English they hear is on British or American TV programs). The other translator was from Bali and therefore had no difficulty with the Australian accent! They were truly beautiful people and it seemed to me they were perhaps a little too accommodating for the sometimes confrontational environment of unionism. They preferred to avoid conflict and talk their way through issues with the government rather than take action (which, of course, is a last resort even for us), and needed to be continually challenged by the idea that sometimes a union must act to be taken seriously and to achieve its goals. It didn’t help that many senior bureaucrats from the Government were also leaders in the Union, with their own President also being a Senator. As a people they appear to be very polite and respectful, and many looked at me with some uncertainty when I questioned whether a very close relationship between union and government was conducive to a union achieving its goals. The other concept that had to be highlighted was that it is essential for unions to have adequate resources in order to be
“Unions rely on being able to organise members to act if necessary, but it is very difficult to do that if members have a journey involving a number of boats in order to attend a meeting.” strong, and that they must collect union dues. This message seemed to sink in with the idea that paying dues gives the union what it needs in order to work for improved salaries, so a cost now brings rewards later. While I was there they decided to put a proposal to Congress that union dues be increased to 0.5% of salary, as well as putting their minds to the collection of dues in their own districts. They will also be proposing a new union structure at Congress. With the work we’d done in the Tasmanian Branch
over the last few years, I had a feeling of déjà vu, with similar goals for a new structure: more efficient, better use of resources. What was certainly clear was that we have many similar issues. Making sure our own house is in order is one of them. The other things they were concerned about were teacher quality, curriculum, teacher transfers, appointment of principals, and attracting teachers to remote areas; but their main concern was political interference (which wasn’t surprising under the circumstances). I developed a real admiration for their tenacity. Unions rely on being able to organise members to act if necessary, but it is very difficult to do that if members have a journey involving a number of boats in order to attend a meeting; and if communicating electronically is difficult because internet coverage is patchy. And yet they hadn’t given up. They were absolutely determined to make their union stronger and it almost seemed that it was the significant challenges they faced that made them more so. It made me ponder that maybe sometimes there is much to be said for the struggle!
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targeting your performance Department of Education performance and development plans for all employees come into force in 2013. Teacher assessment will be linked with national standards. Malcolm Upston, AEU Tasmanian Branch Industrial Officer, warns it will have far-reaching consequences. He has produced a ‘user’s guide’ to employee rights and obligations.
ll government Agencies are required to evaluate the performance of employees and ensure that employees go about their work effectively. Compliance has been ad hoc but, since conventional markers of achievement such as NAPLAN, the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) and the Gonski Review (the Review of Funding for Schooling released December 2011) indicate that educational standards are slipping, teaching and teachers are now targeted by both state and federal governments under the guise of performance management. To suggest that teachers are the major in-
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fluence on a student’s learning oversimplifies the situation. In Teacher – The National Magazine, John Nelson suggests: “My School’s benchmark data is a bit like a hospital using the number of deaths in surgery as its key performance indicator. A simplistic approach to improve results would be to avoid complex surgery and take on less threatening cases, or worse still, book in less surgery…! “NAPLAN results represent, at best, a ‘slice’ of student achievement. Notwithstanding the perceived shortcomings of the tests and data presentation, governments and decisionmakers will be influenced by the results …”.
It is accepted that what students bring to school predicts achievement more than any other variable; however improving teacher quality is deemed by some as an essential reform in education. The Department of Education’s (DoE) new framework to improve the performance of employees is underway and pivotal is the development of individual Performance and Development Plans (PDP) with your manager or principal once each year. Assessments will be made against elements of the National Professional Standards (“the Standards”) described by Gonski as a quality assurance mechanism.
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The DoE has formulated a cycle incorporating four stages. 1
Employee and manager identify priority areas for the next 12 months.
Construct a performance and development plan (PDP) that identifies (i) goals/objectives, (ii) actions, (iii) areas of improvement, and (iv) development needs. It must be clear about how performance will be measured and what evidence might be relied upon.
Manager provide ongoing feedback, support and professional development
Evaluate, assess and review — to determine achievement. Has the employee obtained the required performance outcomes and standards?
You should… aEnsure the objectives and goals being set for you are realistic and achievable because you will be held to them. aHave a clear understanding about how you will be assessed, who assesses you and how judgements are to be made about whether or not you have achieved your goals and objectives.
aSeek an unambiguous commitment on the provision of resources and professional training/development, where necessary. Failure of an employee to meet standards within the Plan leads to a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP). Herein lies the AEU concern; if after the PIP process a DoE employee is found to have failed to meet a prerequisite standard, the ramifications can be serious and might include a reduction in salary and classification or termination of employment. Any employee who suspects that a PIP is intended for them should seek support from the AEU as soon as possible. At all times the employee has the right to disagree with the view of management, to be heard and to have his/her views considered. The playing field David Zyngier from Monash University says: ‘’Children come to our classrooms with what has been called the ‘invisible backpack’ and some come with their backpack full of privilege and others come with a backpack of disadvantage.’’ It is no surprise that bright students have steeper trajectories of learning than the less bright students. Similarly management of student behaviour in some
“The AEU is concerned that, if after the PIP process a DoE employee is found to have failed to meet a prerequisite standard, the ramifications can be serious and might include: reduction in salary; reassignment of duties; reduction in classification; or termination of employment.” A member, who suspects that a PIP is intended for them, should seek support from the AEU as soon as possible. At all times the employee has the right to disagree with the view of management, to be heard and to have his or her views considered.
CC hh aa ll kk SS uu m mm m ee rr 22 00 11 22 // 11 33 [[ 22 77 ]]
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Children come to our classrooms with what has been called the ‘invisible backpack’ and some come with their backpack full of privilege and others come with a backpack of disadvantage. Dr David Zyngier, Monash University
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schools is often an insurmountable barrier to meaningful classroom learning. Implicit in the observation of Linda Darling-Hammond and co. is that it is impossible to be an excellent teacher day in, day out, year in, year out; circumstances, demands and the cohort of students change and adapting often requires regular professional development of all teachers. These researchers conclude “… .teacher effectiveness ratings differ substantially from class to class and from year to year…Even when the (statistical) model includes controls for prior achievement and student demographic variables, teachers are advantaged or disadvantaged based on the students they teach.” The classroom climate and how students “present” may be burdensome, challenging and critical to an objective assessment of teacher effectiveness. Gonski concluded that it is not the school so much as a student’s socio-economic status that makes a demonstrable difference in educational outcomes. Other significant factors include the proportion of indigenous students, students with disability and students from remote areas. A disproportionate number of students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds attend government schools, particularly in Tasmania. The most cost-efficient way to close the gap according to Gonski is targeted investment in disadvantaged students. For example, the importance of early identification and remediation requires that funding for the training of teachers in the use of diagnostic tools and interpretation of results is a priority. Zyngier believes that teachers are unable to bridge the gap no matter how hard they work if they don’t have support, such as more Support Staff, smaller class sizes and more professional development time. The role of the teacher however is to improve the trajectory of all students. School systems cannot ignore the fact that, for a given student, the single most important in-school factor influencing student achievement is what their teachers know and do. The importance of such elements as the teacher’s classroom management style, instructional scaffolding, content knowledge,
presentation skills, the feedback to and the rapport with the students taught cannot be over estimated. The teacher’s approach to student discipline is critical and will depend on their understanding of disruptive behaviour, of their students and how they learn, and their purpose of discipline. According to Professor John Hattie (Director of the Melbourne Education Research Institute - University of Melbourne), meaningful engagement requires a love of the content, a wish to imbue others with a liking or even love of the discipline being taught, and a teacher not only teaching but participating in the science of teaching. The challenge is to cultivate these qualities in teaching systems. What standard? The Commonwealth Government response to quantify quality teaching, and adopted by the DoE, is the development of the National Professional Standards for Teachers. The Standards are benchmarks that identify what a teacher is expected to know and be able to do for each of four career stages (Graduate, Proficient, Highly Accomplished and Lead Teacher) resulting in a total of 148 descriptors, focus areas or competencies of increasing levels of knowledge/sophistication, practice and engagement. The Standards are based on: 1. Knowing students and how they learn; 2. Knowing the content and how to teach it; 3. Planning for and implementing effective teaching and learning; 4. Creating and maintaining supportive, safe learning environments; 5. Assessing, providing feedback and reporting on student learning; 6. Engaging in professional learning; and 7. Engaging professionally with colleagues, parents/carers and the community. A teacher may meet the Standard despite measures of student achievement. It is accepted that, even if high quality teaching were to be equally available to all students, there would still be variation in achievement levels. Similarly, a teacher cannot be expected to manage every child’s behaviour, no matter how bad.
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Managers or principals must keep in mind that the standard of work performance expected of the teacher is the same as that which is expected of a typically competent teacher — no more, no less.
Clearly, employer assessment of teacher performance must consider a range of external factors that, without additional support, may be beyond the control of the teacher, but working with difficult children or within a crowded busy classroom is not a “shield” but a factor that may be taken into account. Performance and Development Plan (PDPs) Robyn Collins, writing in Teacher — The National Magazine on whether “assessment of performance” affected what teachers do in the classroom, seems to confirm that it provides valuable professional development. If done well, the process equips teachers to create better curricular; to improve their ability to evaluate student learning; and enhance their interactions with students, parents and colleagues. But the research into ‘teacher appraisal’ in general remains ambivalent about its value, since efficacy depends on the integrity of the standards, the time available to undertake meaningful appraisal, whether it’s a top down or teacher driven approach and whether it is generic or subject-specific. The PDP will identify an employee’s major tasks, projects and responsibilities associated with the employee’s role, responsibilities, duties and/or tasks and is a map that guides performance and its assessment. The teacher has a responsibility to engage in the development of their Performance and Development Plan and to then perform the requirements identified in it. Principals have an obligation to be consistent, fair and objective in specifying
‘Must haves’ for an effective manager 1
Investment of appropriate time and energy, and a genuine interest, in developing the teacher’s career
Ability to relate to a teacher’s methods, obstacles or needs
Ability to model behaviour and/or talk about theories of learning
Experience working in a similar teaching area to pass on expertise
Good communication and interpersonal skills
Leadership qualities enabling adaptation to different needs of teachers and an ability to develop action plans that can be evaluated.
performance requirements and in managing, monitoring and assessment. Every employee needs to know what is expected of them but it is just as important for them to know how these expectations are to be achieved. While changing teacher behaviour is ultimately the mechanism for making improvements to teaching effectiveness, it must be supported by access to quality development opportunities, as well as evidence-based feedback and coaching that is specific, constructive and focussed on the things over which an individual can exercise control. The Tasmanian Ministerial Direction on performance management and The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership states that identifying priorities for improvement is not enough without identifying learning and development priorities, and access to support that allows teachers to improve. As noted by Colin Pettit, Secretary of the DoE, in an email to his staff on 10 September 2012: “The purpose of these new arrange-
ments is to ensure that every employee in DoE has the opportunity to participate in a structured discussion with their principal or manager to identify areas for improvement; to develop appropriate goals and objectives around these; and then to work towards achieving these improvements with support, development and feedback.” Competent managers will suggest means or strategies by which employees can improve their work performance (this is the essence of performance management) and provide assistance to the employee, by way of professional development, so they have the opportunity to meet expectations. There will always be a measure of subjective judgement, personality clashes or dislikes that may influence assessment, or feelings of irritation derived from views that that person holds which are at odds with those of the assessor. The effectiveness of the principal or line manager may be critical to whether this is a positive or a negative experience.
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Unless required in legal proceedings, performance and development documentation will not be released without the consent of the employee to any person other than those parties involved in the process. Managing Underperformance The teacher must be able to provide some evidence against the agreed objectives of the Performance and Development Plan. Judgements about effectiveness of teaching have greatest validity when based on multiple sources of evidence. Underperformance — sources of evidence: • Evidence of impact of teaching on student outcomes • Direct observation of teaching • Evidence of teacher impact on colleagues and the school • Student feedback • Parent feedback • Teacher self-assessment • Participation in professional learning. There must be an assessment that the teacher has not met the standard required before proceeding to the underperformance process. Further, one must consider what a reasonable employer would have, or should have, done at the various stages of assessment. A performance issue, or development need, should be discussed at the time they are identified because: • performance is easier to correct when the improvement needed is small; • it is important to correct employee behaviour before it becomes habitual; and • if the employee is allowed to repeat the behaviour, they may consider said behaviour acceptable. Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) A PIP is a prelude to the possible assessment of a teacher as one whose effectiveness is causing concern. The AEU expects few, if any, teachers will be identified as being in need of a PIP, particularly if the DoE’s performance and development policy and procedure is followed as intended. However, deciding that a teacher requires a PIP has potentially great significance because such an assessment can
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lead to dismissal. Accordingly, the procedures laid down for the formulation and implementation of an improvement plan will be the primary focus. A PIP identifies and documents the requirements that have not been met, and the development and support to be provided to the employee to help them achieve performance outcomes. Managers or principals must keep in mind that the standard of work performance expected of the teacher is the same as that which is expected of a typically competent teacher — no more, no less. The employee must be informed of where behaviour falls short of the standard expected, including a statement concerning the corrective action required and intended actions if the person does not correct his or her performance. The employee should be given the opportunity to respond, to provide additional information regarding issues that may be impacting on their performance and may be given the option of having another person present. The opportunity to respond serves two purposes. Firstly, it gives the employee the opportunity to demonstrate that the allegations have no foundation. Secondly, it gives the employee the opportunity to persuade the employer that, while the allegations are of substance, there are factors that should, or may, persuade the employer to reconsider or adjust their final appraisal. Those factors may be extenuating personal circumstances or they may involve undertakings about future conduct. The fact that the employee has been inefficient in a particular period does not mean he/she was an inefficient employee before that time or will be an inefficient employee in the future. Many professionals have had periods of inefficiency during their careers and it did not mean a future of poor performance. Hence, once the source of the problem is clear, the employee must be given an adequate or proper opportunity to overcome his or her inefficiency. A teacher having problems in the classroom will not improve by metamorphosis; they need structured assistance put in place to deal with this perceived deficiency. Someone in management must stand back, look at
the alleged deficiencies in work performance (teaching), and decide on an appropriate strategy to bridge the alleged gap between performance and expectation. If there is sufficient evidence for a formal process to proceed, a PIP will be drafted. The primary goal is then to rectify underperformance. The PIP will specify what improvements and performance are expected such as specific work requirements and/or behaviours, how performance will be measured, the time frame for achievement, and the learning and development opportunities available to improve capability. The DoE expects the employee to remain working in the current school or workplace while an underperformance process is underway unless the transfer to an alternative school or workplace is part of a specific strategy to address the underperformance issue. A ‘failing teacher’ being returned to a classroom or situation over which they have lost effective control is a concern for the AEU; the rapport with the students taught should not be under estimated. In such circumstances, it would be preferable that the DoE relocate the ‘failing teacher’ to another school or, at least, a different class. It is unfair to expect the failing teacher to remain in the ‘fire’ and to gain control and respect of a class that is challenging or disengaged. If in the final assessment performance has improved to a satisfactory level, the employee can resume the normal performance development cycle. A panel convened to oversee the PIP will conduct interim assessments and if, in the final assessment, performance has not improved, the panel then has to evaluate the assessment process itself and advise the employee of its reasoning and process. The employer carries the burden of proving that the employee is incompetent in the sense that he or she does not reach the standard of performance agreed within the profession. rE This is an extract of the original article. The full version is available on the AEU website (with complete references). Abridged references are listed in the Educator Resource Section of Chalk.
s c i e n c e
fly me to the moon
Michael Van der Ploeg, Assistant Principal at Table Cape Primary, has won the 2012 Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools and is the 2012 BHP Billiton Science Teacher of the year. His enthusiasm is infectious and he inspires students to pursue a science career that can open doors around the world, and beyond …
cience never really interested me at school. It wasn’t until I became a primary school teacher and worked alongside passionate science teachers that my curiosity was ignited. Teachers who mentored me as a new educator believed in a hands-on approach to engage students and I’ve kept this philosophy. Science is all about getting your hands dirty and developing curiosity and I teach it in a way that builds a student’s passion to want to learn and question the world around them. Not everything runs smoothly in my classes but I make sure students realise they can learn from mistakes and that some of the greatest discoveries have been made from experiments that went astray. Our school in Wynyard has an initiative that supports a teacher’s subject passion, or specialty, through electives linked to the Australian Curriculum, which is unique for primary schools. One of my passions within science is robotics, and we give every student the opportunity to work on robot construction and development. Our program is based on the Lego Mindstorm robots from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. We have also hosted a Robocup event. The North West Coast has great science teachers and a community always willing to lend a hand. I’m also privileged to be part of the Science Teachers Association of Tasmania Inc., which provides professional development and support for science teachers across the state.
“Not everything runs smoothly in my classes but I make sure students realise they can learn from mistakes and some of the greatest discoveries have been made from experiments that went astray.” Michael Van der Ploeg and students in the lab at Table Cape Primary
As university courses become easier to access, students are more aware of their choices. My goal is to nurture curiosity and passion for the subject so when students reach high school they can continue their journey in the science world. Science can take you anywhere from the Great Barrier Reef to Antarctica, or even the moon! I believe students are becoming more aware of the opportunities. In February 2012, I won the national title of 2012 BHP Billiton Science Teacher of the Year
— a huge honour. The prize was an invitation to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Pittsburgh. It’s the largest science fair for pre-tertiary students in the world. With over 1600 entries from over 60 countries and $4 million dollars in prize money, it showed the power of science. I was struck by the passion and enthusiasm of students — something I hope to bring to my classrooms. Most recently, I was honoured to receive the Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools.
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naplan ‘unplugged’ NAPLAN results unleash a flurry of commentary each year but how often are they properly scrutinised? Terry Polglase, AEU Tasmanian Branch President, scratches the surface to reveal the story behind the headlines about Tasmania’s 2012 results.
APLAN results are released each September and commentators rush to compare the results with the previous year. However, more might be learned from the 2012 results as the students tested were part of the assessment four years ago. In 2008, our current Year 9s were in Year 5, and our Year 7s were Year 3. Nationally, about 92 per cent of students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 met minimum standards in literacy and numeracy which is consist-
What is of interest is the movement in state rankings of Western Australia and South Australia from 2008 to 2012 and the inability of Tasmania to make any noticeable difference in the slide in performance between Years 5 and 7. There are twenty assessments overall — five in each of Year 3, Year 5, Year 7 and Year 9. States have moved up in one or two aspects, and down in others, but three long-term observations are worthy of analysis.
National NAPLAN results 2008 – 2012 Year 3 Year 5 Year 7 Year 9
Reading Up Up Unchanged Unchanged
Writing Unchanged Down Down Down
ent with past years. Some improvements between 2008 and 2012 are apparent as the scores of Year 5 students have risen significantly in reading, spelling and numeracy but the results among secondary students have basically stagnated, except in numeracy where the results have fallen significantly. In Tasmania students at or above the National Minimum Score (NMS) increased in 15 of the 20 assessment areas, from 2011 to 2012, and we narrowed the gap in 17 of 20 measurements but the snapshots tell us little.
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Spelling Up Up Unchanged Unchanged
Grammar Up Unchanged Up Unchanged
Numeracy Unchanged Up Down Unchanged
Tracking Tasmania’s NAPLAN results provokes key questions: • Why does Tasmania’s position drop in Year 7 and continue to decline in Year 9? • What explanation is there for Western Australia’s substantial rise in rankings — 26 of the gains were in Years 7 and 9? • What factors could be attributed to South Australia’s drop in rankings? The national average government school
size is 340 but Tasmania, WA and South Australia have a similar average school size of 300, so size is unlikely to be a factor. Tasmania has a Year 6/Year 7 cross-over between primary and secondary sectors but so does every other state other than WA, SA and Queensland where it is Year 7. Transition from primary school between testing Years 5 and 7 can therefore also be discounted as a probable explanation for WA’s improvement and SA’s decline. WA, like Tasmania, has dismantled its curriculum support department and central support is minimal, so if school size, organization and resourcing can be discounted then what factors remain which distinguish South Australia and Tasmania from Western Australia? The likely answer is demography: levels of employment, wealth, degrees of poverty and dispersed population. It would seem reasonable to hypothesize that what is critical to student attainment are employment levels, attitudes, levels of confidence and optimism for the future. Adolescence is a formative time and when levels of state unemployment are high and family incomes are low, maintaining motivation is problematic. Tasmanian families might be finding that they are less confident, or do not have the skills, to keep their children optimistic and motivated enough to continue their education. Our adolescents
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Tasmanian households have gross incomes about 20 per cent below the national average and a net worth of $350,000 compared with $400,000 nationally. More of our children live in poverty with 35 per cent of households living below Professor Ronald Henderson’s poverty line.
Movement in rankings from 2008 to 2012
Rankings are shown in aggregate e.g. if a state has overtaken others in three assessment areas they score +3.
Overall gain/drop in rankings
+29 (+26 in Y7 &Y9)
-29 (Evenly spread)
could be switching off from learning as they can’t see a future for themselves, at the very time they are transitioning to high school. This could explain why Tasmania’s and South Australia’s positions relative to other states have fallen. In the 2008 to 2011 period, Tasmania’s unemployment rate rose three per cent when nationally it rose only one per cent. Since 2001 employment in Tasmania, as a percentage of the working age population, has always been between four and six per cent below the national average and one in three Tasmanians rely on a Commonwealth benefit for their principle source of income. Tasmanian households have gross incomes about 20 per cent below the national average and a net worth of $350 000 compared with $400 000 nationally. More of our children live in poverty with 35 per cent of households living below Professor Ronald Henderson’s poverty line.
Fifty-eight per cent of students in Tasmania live in areas that are in the lowest 30 per cent of national wealth and Tasmania and South Australia have the most overweight and obese males and females (2008 ABS figures). Tasmania (58%) and South Australia (59%) are placed second and third bottom, only above Northern Territory, when
it comes to the number of adults who have a qualification beyond Year 12 for 25 to 64 year olds. The three states spend roughly the same amount of money to educate a FTE student, around $12,000, which is mainly due to average school sizes being 300. Only the Northern Territory spends more. Resources alone are not necessarily the determinant. Finally in Year 9, the final year of testing, Tasmania has the largest proportion of students below the NMS in persuasive writing and numeracy and the second most after the NT in reading and spelling, if indigenous students are excluded. What is obviously required is resourcing directed to where it is needed and at levels that address disadvantage — disadvantage matters, attitudes matter and self-belief matters. The funding mechanism recommended by the Gonski Review is long overdue as it will assist states such as Tasmania and South Australia to overcome the barriers we face in educating our students. AEU Tasmanian Branch’s survey of members — Public Education 2012: through the eyes of educators — revealed a majority do not consider NAPLAN a good use of time and resources. Only 12 per cent of school teachers and 21 per cent of principals believe that NAPLAN testing is a good use of school time and resources. The NAPLAN assessment tool itself remains a concern and not too much weight should be placed on its results. It is a very narrowly focussed tool and does not encompass, or test, the broader range of skills and learning that a child achieves at school.
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h e a l t h
a n d
s a f e t y
Don’t inhale T
he trade union movement has led the way in demanding asbestos bans in Australia, compensation for those exposed and strict handling protocols. Once a miracle manufacturing substance, asbestos is now a byword for the deadly lung disease asbestosis, and the incurable cancer mesothelioma. Trade unions in Australia are now helping to support workers overseas in the battle against this deadly substance. Almost 45 years after the first ban on new usage was introduced in Australia, asbestos remains a ticking time bomb in our schools, homes and hospitals. Although there is still more work to do, Australia is a world leader in recognising the dangers of asbestos and taking steps to minimise its destructive effects. But in other parts of the world, asbestos is still used in manufacturing because it is cheap and versatile. Today, the world produces 2.3 million metric tonnes of white asbestos annually - of which about 64 per cent is consumed by countries in Asia including Vietnam, India, China and Indonesia. The major asbestos producers are Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Canada, Brazil and Zimbabwe. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) attributes 107,000 deaths annually worldwide to asbestos-related diseases and cancers. Asbestos is the most prevalent occupational  Chalk Summer 2012/13
Australia’s union movement was instrumental in the asbestos ban on new construction but it remains a health ‘time bomb’ in schools, hospitals and homes. Zoe Roberts, from Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA, says while inroads have been made locally, worldwide 100,000 workers die annually of asbestos-related disease, in countries where it’s cheap and ‘effective.’
carcinogen, causing an estimated one-third of all deaths from work-related cancers. Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA, the overseas aid agency of the Australian trade union movement, has been working with Vietnamese trade unions to protect workers from asbestos disease. Vietnam is the fourth-largest importer of asbestos, which is mostly used to produce cheap cement roofing tiles. In Vietnam, workers need education and support, while factories and consumers need to be convinced to move away from asbestos products. Since 2009, Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA has helped the OH&S arm of the Vietnamese trade union movement to establish a National Resource Centre for Asbestos, and developed education and communications materials for workers and union officials. The project has organised the testing of vulnerable workplaces for the incidence of asbestos dust and, with the assistance of the Vietnamese Government, the translation of Australian asbestos protocols into Vietnamese. In 2012–13, the project will expand into neighbouring Lao PDR. There are many reasons to be optimistic about an asbestos-free future. In Canada, the Quebec Government’s recent decision to cancel a multi-million dollar loan to reopen the Jeffrey asbestos mine is a significant victory. Australia’s recent commitment to replace the “risk management” approach to asbestos with
“prioritised removal” is a big step forward towards an asbestos-free Australia. In November 2012, SA Unions is organising an Australian tour of anti-asbestos campaigners from Canada and India to raise awareness of the growing asbestos industry in our region, and coincides with Asbestos Victims Memorial Day on 30 November. rE
you can help
There is an urgent need for education of South East Asian workers, unions and management about the dangers of asbestos and the alternatives available for roofing materials, and to provide personal protective equipment for workers handling asbestos until a ban in asbestos trade is achieved. You can help support Union Aid AbroadAPHEDA’s work by making a tax-deductible donation. www.apheda.org.au
educator resources and further reading
6 R.E.S.E.T. disruptive classroom dynamics Glen Pearsall’s Gladly Teach and Classroom Dynamics are available from Teacher Learning Network. www.tln.org.au
10 Your shout Story References The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2007, Columbia University Press Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2011. 2010 National Drug Strategy Household Survey report. Drug statistics series no.25. Cat. No. PHE 145. Canberra: AIHW Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2010. Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia 2008-09: report on the National Minimum Data Set. Drug treatment series no. 10. Cat. no. HSE 92. Canberra: AIHW National Preventative Health Taskforce. Preventing alcohol-related harm in Australia: a window of opportunity. Technical report no. 3. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia, 2008. Hawkins, JD, Arthur, MW, et al. Preventing substance abuse. In D. Farrington & M. Tonry (Eds.), Crime and Justice, Volume 19: Strategic Approaches to Crime Prevention. Chicago: University of Chicago Press 1995. Spooner, C, Hall, W, et al. ANCD research paper 2-Structural determinants of youth drug use. Australian National Council on Drugs. 2001. Frisher, M, Crome, I, et al. Predictive factors for illicit drug use among young people: a literature review. Research Development and Statistics Directorate, Home Office, United Kingdom. 2007.
14In brief IN BRIEF: Power and the passion Any AEU member can apply to the Acting Officer Program and expressions of interest will be advertised each February. Successful candidates are chosen by a selection panel. Criteria include: • knowledge and skill of interested members (in relation to the selection criteria established for the position) • degree of involvement in the AEU (i.e. Workplace Representative, Branch Councillor, Committee Member, Executive Member) • The AEU aims to have at least 50 per cent of Acting Officer vacancies filled by women.
16 A woman’s work is never … quality? References Abraham, Y. (2011) ‘Old school thinking’, The Boston Globe online 8 December 2011. http://www.bostonpublicschools.org/files/old-school_thinking_-_metro_-_the_ boston_globe.pdf Biernat, M., Fuegen, K. and Kobrynowicz, D. (2010) ‘Shifting standards and the inference of incompetence: Effects of formal and informal evaluation tools’. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 36, pp. 855-968. Carli, L. (2001) ‘Gender and Social Influence’. Journal of Social Issues 57(4) pp. 725-741 Ferrari, J (212) ‘We need better teachers, not more’ The Australian online 16 July 2012 http://www.theaustralian. com.au/national-affairs/education/we-need-better-teachers-not-more/story-fn59nlz9-1226426660003 Cartoon of the ‘super-hero’ female teacher http://www.storiesfromschool.org/2010/07/a-good-teacher-in-every-classroom.html
20 Sex Education: Promoting health or promiscuity Family Planning Tasmania provides high quality sexual health and relationships educational services for students and professionals throughout the State. FPT also provides bulk billing at sexual health clinics in Launceston, Glenorchy and Burnie. Family Planning Tasmania office contacts: North West 6431 7692 North 6343 4566 South 6273 9117
26 Targeting your performance National Professional Standards for Teachers are based on: • Knowing students and how they learn Professional knowledge
• Assessing, providing feedback and reporting on student learning • Engaging in professional learning Professional engagement • Engaging professionally with colleagues, parents/carers and the community. Senate inquiry The Senate has tasked The Education, Employment and the Workplace Relations Reference Committee to inquire into teaching and learning in Australia. Abridged article references Detailed references available on the AEU website under Publications >> Chalk Performance and Development Procedure, DoE Article, The AGE newspaper, 9-9-12, Rachel Browne What teachers need to know about Learning Difficulties, Peter Westwood ACER Press Evaluating Teacher Evaluation Linda Darling-Hammond, Audrey Amrein-Beardsley, Edward Haertel, and Jesse Rothstein, March 2012 Kappan Magazine volume 93 #6 Schools Workforce, Productivity Commission Research Report April 2012 page 168 quoting Hattie 2009; OECD 2009 Schools Workforce, Productivity Commission Research Report April 2012 page 81 Managing poor performance, Justice Tasmania intranet http://intra.justice.tas.gov.au/hr/workforce_managemetn/ performance_management DoE Managing underperformance Procedures Fair Work Australia, Best Practice Guides Leading for High performance: Supporting school staff through review, Version 1.1 – 23 April 2008 Department of Education page 10. State Service Commissioners Direction #5 part 3.5; CD6.3.4
34 Don’t inhale Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA (Australian People for Health, Education and Development Abroad) was created in 1984 as the overseas aid agency of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU). It was established to contribute directly to countries and regions of the world where men and women workers are disadvantaged through poverty, denial of labour and human rights, civil conflict and war. Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA is committed to justice and solidarity and self-reliance, not charity. It builds self-reliance through support for educational and training projects for workers and their organisations in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Southern Africa and the Pacific. Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA is supported by individual union members, the ACTU, unions (including the AEU), workplaces, AusAID and the Australian public.
• Knowing the content and how to teach it • Planning for and implementing effective teaching and learning Professional practice • Creating and maintain supportive, safe learning environments
Chalk Summer 2012/13 
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Published on Nov 13, 2012