In mid July the Independent Education Union of Australia wrote to a wide spectrum of political parties seeking their response to key issues facing IEU members in schools and early childhood education. Each state branch contributed to a list of election questions to be put to federal candidates. The list included: Labor Party, Liberal Party, Nationals, Greens, Katter’s Australian Party, Palmer United Party, Nick Xenophon Group, Wikileaks Party and Independent Andrew Wilkie. Parties were asked nine questions. Now, over 70,000 teacher members can read up on party policy before casting a vote at the September Federal Election. Responses will be posted to our website as we receive them. Our union asked the following: Based on your funding policy, what additional money will be received by non- government schools in 2014 over and above 2013 funding? If elected, will any IR changes planned by your Party create additional barriers to our organisers in assisting our members in their workplaces? What actions will you take to lessen teachers’ workloads and support them in their work? Given the continued growth in enrolments in the non-government school sector and the consequent unmet demand for additional schools and school buildings, what will you do to ensure additional Capital funding for non-government schools? Many schools are keen to further their commitment to make their school community a more environmentally friendly place. What resources will you provide to help schools make these changes? To support the quality education agenda in Australian schools, what specific resources will your government provide to ensure provision of and access to high quality professional development to teachers to build on their skills and knowledge to further enhance their classroom practice? What will your government do to change the incorrect and unfair language and vilifying debate with respect to refugees seeking asylum in Australia? What is your commitment to increasing the superannuation levy to 12% for all workers and what support and timeframe will you put in place? What will your government commit to ensuring that qualified teachers in early childhood education are paid equivalent to teachers in schools? Responses received to date, from the Australian Labor Party, the Greens and the Clive Palmer United Party (as of 19 August) are available in the document below.
Federal Election Party Round-Up
The IEU reaffirms its opposition to the current treatment of asylum-seekers by the Australian Government. Read our full statement here.
The IEU urges all political parties and Members of Parliament to stop using policies regarding asylum seekers to foster misunderstanding, social division and distrust, and instead use it as an opportunity to get on with the job of fulfilling Australia's commitment under the Refugee Convention to treat people humanely, process applications for asylum onshore, and promote the better treatment of asylum seekers and refugees in our region.
The IEU calls on the Australian Government to abandon off-shore processing altogether and to reform Australia's stance on asylum seekers in line with our international obligations.
The IEU calls for:
• Both major political parties to respect and acknowledge that neither indefinite detention nor sending asylum seekers to uncertainty in other countries can be presented as a just or credible response to the needs of people seeking refuge and protection in Australia.
• The Australian Government to take leadership and reframe the national debate about refugees and asylum seekers, explaining that the majority of people who have entered Australia by boat seeking asylum have been found to need protection from persecution, and therefore that the vulnerability of asylum seekers must be a primary consideration in any government response to people movement.
• The Australian Government to immediately move to process all asylum seekers onshore. Following initial detention for preliminary health and security checks, a detention that should be capped at one month, after that, while their refugee status is being determined, they should be released into the community on conditions that will ensure that they remain available for processing and (if necessary) removal. They should be allowed to work and live in dignity., Detention beyond the initial processing should only occur in exceptional circumstances.
• The Australian Government to enable Australia's community sector to support and resettle people humanely and effectively, as an appropriate, sensitive and least expensive solution to Australia's humanitarian responsibilities, instead of spending substantial funds deporting people overseas and building facilities offshore,
• The Australian Government to increase our refugee and humanitarian intake in the region. Increasing Australia's intake of refugees from the region is one of the most effective, economic and humane ways to respond to people smuggling.
• The Australian Government to continue to work towards a regional solution to the plight of people seeking asylum. Australia should build on the progress in recent years to work with governments in Asia-Pacific and beyond to work towards fundamental change to the treatment of asylum seekers and refugees in the region.
• The Australian Government to immediately cease detention of asylum seeker children under 18 years of age, noting the psychological harm being caused to already traumatised children and families as a consequence of current detention arrangements.
The full release can be downloaded here.
THE Catholic education system has agreed to sign on to the Better Schools Plan, formerly Gonski, after securing a reported extra $600 million in funding for the sector. Despite new confidence for Catholic educators on funding, the IEU continues to approach with trepidation the true impact of the new agreement on the working lives of teachers. A copy of the press release can be downloaded here.
IMMINENT SCHOOL FUNDING REGULATIONS INCREASE TEACHER WORKLOAD
The proposed Australian Education Regulations likely to be finalised in the next day or two will increase workload and compliance for all schools immediately even though there is now general agreement that very few additional dollars flow in the next couple of years.
Federal Secretary Chris Watt said that the Regulations that underpin the new school funding arrangements between the federal government, the States and Catholic and Independent school employers make explicit the expectations being put on schools.
While some of the regulations are not new, there is plenty of additional work and reporting required, additional powers for the education Minister and questions about the degree of micro-managing by the federal government.
“Disappointingly and just like the ʻnegotiationsʼ over the funding dollars themselves, these discussions about the regulations have again been held with different, separate groups under confidentiality arrangements.”
“Unfortunately it would seem that there has been little attention focused on the regulations and in particular the implications of the School Improvement Plan until recently.”
“The IEU is not confident that there are real additional resources from 2014 to meet the expectations of the plan, including additional resources for mentoring beginning teachers for instance.”
“Nevertheless, the IEU is putting every employer on notice that significant increased time allowances and professional development opportunities will be expected from 2014.”
Contact: Chris Watt 0419 259 143
The Independent Education Union of Australia has called on Melbourne University to distance itself from inappropriate and unprofessional comments made by Professor Judith Sloan regarding graduates from “second rate universities”. The IEU wishes to express its outrage over the attack on early childhood teacher members, which was continued on ABC’s Q&A program on Monday night.
Read the full release here.
May 22, 2013
A survey of 1600 Independent Education Union members has revealed that 90% believe the funding agreement between the Federal Government and NSW State Government is not adequate to address the immediate needs of disadvantaged and special needs students in public schools.
One in three thought their own school could be worse off in 2014 and a further one in three didn’t feel they had enough information to decide one way or the other.
Accordingly, members will be calling on local Labor MPs to assist with information about what is planned for their school under the Federal Government’s proposed school funding model.
“With claim and counter-claim about school funding, local schools need some transparency about what is happening to the funding for their school next year,” IEU Federal Secretary Chris Watt said.
Mr Watt said there had been plenty of macro data reporting about possible funding outcomes in six or ten years time and data about ‘average’ school outcomes, however, none of this assisted local schools in planning with any certainty for 2014.
“It is only reasonable at this time, with the Federal Government’s negotiation deadlines looming for State Governments, that school communities have information about what the model actually means for their school,” he said.
“Our members need to know that their jobs are secure and that their working conditions are protected,” he said.
IEU members will write to local ALP MPs with urgent appeals for the release of data about their school for the next three years.
Australian students in Years 3 and 9 last week sat for NAPLAN, the nation's largest basic skills testing scheme.
IEU Federal Secretary Chris Watt has reflected on the relevance of the scheme in a new opinion piece which reveals some of the union's findings about how teachers actually use NAPLAN results.
He writes: If the purpose of NAPLAN is about diagnosis and remediation, then we need to change the way we use the testing scheme’s results and the way we understand its function and value.
As a means of tracking educational achievement, there is essentially nothing wrong with NAPLAN, it’s what we do with the information once it’s collected. It’s time to reconsider what the test hopes to achieve, and revisit the most effective ways of helping kids in the classroom.