Ensuring a world class public education system for NSW

Delegates at Annual Conference have reaffirmed Federation’s commitment to ensuring the NSW government meets its obligations to provide highly qualified, specialised, professional and well-paid teachers, and a well-resourced, world class public education system for all students in NSW public schools.

Federation will continue to pursue world class standards for teachers, principals and teacher education that are underpinned by the following:

  • competitive salaries, from induction and throughout a teacher’s career, to ensure the ongoing supply of teachers;
  • high standards for entry into education degrees and rigorous initial teacher education (ITE) programs, reinforced by workforce planning rather than the pursuit of maximising revenue from teacher education student fees;
  • qualifications and subject specialisation within curriculum;
  • reductions in administrative workload, which does not directly help meet student outcomes to make the job of teaching more manageable and rewarding; and
  • access to ongoing professional development that meets teachers’ pedagogical needs, is aligned with curriculum priorities and supports the needs of students in a variety of school contexts, as well as the time and resources required to engage meaningfully with this professional development and to collaborate with other teachers.

Government proposals that raise the spectre of the ‘de-professionalisation’ of teachers through the downgrading of teacher qualifications, their curriculum specialisation and entry standards in the name of a ‘fast track’ into teaching, will not foster the teacher expertise required to provide a world-class education for NSW public school students, consistent with the Alice Springs Declaration and its goals for our children and young people,” said Senior Vice President Amber Flohm.

The government continues in its desperate attempts to lower the qualifications and standards of the teaching profession to cover up its failure to take any action to address the workforce planning that was, and is, required to address the teacher shortage crisis.

Exploiting the current pathways into teaching in the name of ‘removing barriers’ is not an option that will improve outcomes for students and will inevitably leave teachers ill-prepared for the complexity of today’s teaching profession. This will leave our students worse off and teachers heading for the door.

Amber Flohm presented the latest research and figures for ‘out of field’ teaching and the impacts on student outcomes, teachers and local public school communities.

The impact of such schemes on students in regional areas and other disadvantaged areas are particularly regressive. Such legislative and policy positions represent the very antithesis of the evidence, findings and recommendations of the Gallop Inquiry, and they will remain central to the Federation’s More Than Thanks campaign in the lead up to the state election,” she said.

Conference heard that a significant investment must be made by the NSW government in the teachers whose pedagogies will be the enabler of this new curriculum. This includes time during the school day for teachers to familiarise, plan and collaborate, have access to professional development, including curriculum expertise from the non-school based teaching service.

Delegates reaffirmed that such provision of support, by way of time to collaborate, is a prerequisite for implementation of NSW syllabuses.

They also endorsed the development of a plan of action by Federation’s Council, Executive and Senior Officers in response to both state and national assessment and reporting initiatives including, but not limited to, the Online Formative Assessment Initiative (OFAI) and the National Literacy and Numeracy Progressions.

It was decided that this plan of action will be developed in the context of the ongoing More Than Thanks campaign, aligned with the Gallop Inquiry and its recommendations pertaining to workload, salaries and teachers’ professional standing in NSW. Development will also include collaboration with national AEU branches and associated bodies.

In addition, the profession continues to experience pervasive impacts on their work because of the obsession by NSW government and the Education Department to collect data unrelated to the educational, wellbeing and curriculum needs of teacher’s students.

The COVID pandemic has further entrenched optimum conditions for privatisation and commercialisation of public education in Australia and around the world.

Governments and education businesses have used this opportunity to take a greater hold on neo-liberal reform and policy development, including curriculum and its pedagogies, assessment practices, testing and reporting agendas, delivered through various ‘smart’ technologies.

Annual conference acknowledged the grave concerns of the profession regarding the growth of these phenomena, including the rapid developments in Artificial Intelligence.

The intrusion into student and teacher privacy by unfettered access to data collection by such technologies and apps is pervasive and insidious and must be exposed,” said Ms Flohm.

As a result, Annual Conference reiterated its call for the commissioning of research to investigate the Australian context, particularly in NSW, which will inform Federation’s policy positions and objectives moving forward.