Inquiry head makes plea to school teachers to tell their stories

Members of the profession are being asked to share the realities of their working lives for the inquiry investigating the value of teachers’ work.

Chair Dr Geoff Gallop said evidence from teachers would be very important for the inquiry’s deliberations.

Detailed accounts of how structural issues, policy directions and funding arrangements are playing out in schools and classrooms are wanted.

“Identifying what changes need investigation, because of their relevance to the day-to-day work of teachers, is crucial,” Dr Gallop said.

“We are good listeners, who want to have the best of evidence guiding our conclusions and recommendations. We need your help in this endeavour.”

The inquiry wants to hear from school teachers about:

  • workload
  • administration and its requirements
  • how conditions may differ, class to class, place to place
  • success and how it is achieved even when the system puts up all sorts of constraints
  • views on what success in education means and whether or not the narrow definition held by some is doing justice to their aspirations for their profession.

He said the inquiry panellists want to tell the real story about public education in NSW.

“We’ll read and discuss the research that’s been done. We’ll talk to the academics and the researchers. But push comes to shove, it’s evidence from the front line that’s going to matter — its breadth and its depth.”

Submissions can be made at and will close on 19 June.

Assistance with evidence

The union is committed to ensuring a detailed picture of the nature of teachers’ work is established for the inquiry.

President Angelo Gavrielatos has called on every school and association to make a submission to the inquiry, to ensure that the collective voice of teachers and principals and the profession as a whole is heard.

From the commencement of term 2 resources will be made available to Federation Representatives and Workplace Committees to assist with the writing of submissions.

The union will also:

  • ensure that all classifications and settings are represented in material put before the inquiry
  • support members in developing witness statements, including appearing before the panel
  • identify and invite experts to submit material on matters relevant to the inquiry, including, but not limited to, pay relativities with other professions; gender and work; changes in the industrial landscape; and economic developments, including the impact of public sector wages on the wider economy.

To ensure that the full range of teachers’ experiences is noted by the inquiry, in term 3 hearings will be conducted at a range of locations throughout the state. The union will support key witnesses from other locations to appear before a hearing.

The inquiry panellists will deliberate in term 4 and are expected to present their findings and recommendations in February 2021.

Recommendations arising from the inquiry are expected to consider:

  • how best to support teachers and principals in NSW public schools, including through investment in the education workforce and capital infrastructure
  • how to best improve the status of the teaching profession, including, but not limited to matters going to remuneration.

Terms of reference

a) Changes in policies, procedures and/or practices of:

i. the NSW Department of Education
ii. the NSW and Australian governments (including intergovernmental agreements); and
iii. other relevant government agencies

which have impacted on:

  • the delivery of education
  • decision making processes in education
  • support services available to schools.

b) The effect of new/changing technologies across the system.

c) Changes to regulation of the profession.

d) Changed industrial arrangements governing the work of teachers and principals.

e) Changes to the roles of classroom teachers, specialist teachers and those in executive positions and community expectations of them.

f) Movements in attraction to the profession and retention within the profession.

g) The impact of changing curriculum, assessment and reporting requirements.

h) Relevant international, national and state research and reports.

i) Any matter reasonably incidental to a matter mentioned in paragraphs (a) to (h)