Federation will intensify efforts to build public support for the value of public education and its teachers to reinforce a push for higher salaries, President Maurie Mulheron said.
Presenting the Salaries and Status Report to Annual Conference today, Mr Mulheron said Federation was committed to higher standards in public education and wanted the professional service rendered by public school teachers to be duly recognised and recompensed.
Federation would do this by means of the following measures:
Build a claim for the next Salaries and Conditions Award: Federation will build a comprehensive claim for the next school Salaries and Conditions Award, to be finalised at Annual Conference 2016. All options available to the union will be considered.
Create greater esteem for the teaching profession: Community-based campaigning, which achieved success in creating the Gonski funding reforms, will be used to build greater recognition of the high standards of public education and through this elevate the public’s view and valuation of teachers’ work. Five areas will be highlighted: university teacher education courses; qualifications; accreditation; performance and development; school leadership.
Higher standards for university teacher education courses: Federation supports lifting the entry requirements for a university teacher education course to at least three HSC Band 5s (80+), one of which must be in English. There are many attributes, talents and skills that make a good teacher but these are required in addition to high academic achievement rather than instead of it.
Higher standards of teacher qualifications: Federation supports the development of a five-year teaching degree to reinforce the higher level of knowledge and expertise required to be a proficient teacher. In contrast, the Federal Coalition wishes to lower or abandon the requirement for a university-level teaching qualification, and its Teach for Australia policy seeks to recruit people from other disciplines and place them in classrooms after six weeks of training
High standards of teacher education: Federation will continue to co-develop with the Department the new Performance and Development Framework for teachers, which epitomises a commitment to higher standards of teaching practice in all NSW public schools. This new approach significantly strengthens Federation’s capacity to defend and advocate for high standards of professional practice and accountability.
Higher standards of school leadership: Federation wants a new, more rigorous quality-assured promotions system to be developed. During negotiations with the department for a new Staffing Agreement to replace the current one that expires at the end of Term 1, 2016, Federation will promote its longstanding policy of promotion on the basis of an on-the-job assessment that examines a teacher’s capacity to perform proficiently at the particular school leadership level.
Mr Mulheron told members Federation was fundamentally opposed to the notion of on-the-job training inherent in federal government proposals to minimise teacher training – proposals that not only would affect classroom performance and student learning outcomes adversely but bring down the status of the teaching body.
“I want to be emphatic about this,” he told Annual Conference.
“We do not believe in the apprentice model of teacher training.” Federation had for years worked for a system where teachers were trained in universities, first with three-year courses, then four years and now for five years.
“Teaching is an intellectual exercise,” Mr Mulheron said. Federation would fight any attempt to devalue teachers by bringing down the level of teacher training.
“We want all teacher education courses put under the microscope to make sure there is quality teaching across the board,” he added.