25 March – the future of public education is at stake

What is at stake for teachers in this election?  


The result will affect your workload, the salary you earn, the resources you have in the classroom and the number of colleagues you have in the staffroom. 

As you will read in this election edition, the major parties are presenting very different visions for schools and TAFE with profound consequences for you and the future of the teaching profession. 

It is never the role of your union to tell you how to vote. It is the responsibility of the union, however, to lay the evidence before you. 

Twelve years of Coalition government has revealed many inescapable truths about the Liberal and National parties and their approach to education.  

The most important is that they don’t value teachers and they don’t value public education. 

Why else would they ignore every piece of internal and external research warning them that failing to act on unsustainable workloads makes it impossible for teachers to do their job and has left two-thirds burnt out? 

Why else would they stick with a salary cap for 12 years that has left the salaries of teachers far behind other professions and made it impossible to recruit the number of people we need to stop the shortages and deal with rapidly rising enrolments? 

Why else would they increase the number of temporary teachers by 80 per cent in a decade, combining insecure work in a toxic combination with overwork and underpay? 

Why else would they sign a funding agreement with the Commonwealth in 2018 that leaves public schools indefinitely below the minimum level of resources that governments agree are required to meet the needs of every student? That agreement, by the way, ensures NSW private schools remain the most over-resourced in the nation until at least 2029. 

This is all before we even consider how the Coalition has decimated our world class TAFE system.  

They have cut almost half the TAFE teaching workforce (4600 jobs) and sold off all or part of 21 campuses. More than 40 per cent of teachers are now in insecure work as part-time casuals, facing many of the same workload issues their colleagues face in public schools. 

So what alternative is the NSW Labor opposition offering? 

Chris Minns has responded with a promise to axe the salary cap, to reduce administration workloads by five hours a week and renegotiate a better deal on salaries and workloads for school and TAFE teachers, and to improve job security for teachers in both schools and TAFE. 

Labor has also given a commitment to finally ending the underfunding of public schools through a new agreement with the Commonwealth that lifts all schools to the Schooling Resource Standard and announced a guarantee at least 70 per cent of vocational education and training funding for TAFE. They will lift counsellor numbers and introduce a permanent integrated school tutoring program for the children who need help the most in literacy and numeracy. 

These are encouraging signs that NSW Labor has understood that the only way out of the crisis situation we are in now is to invest in teachers, to support teachers and listen to them. If elected, it will be our job to hold them to it. 

Every public school and TAFE teacher deserves More than Thanks. Election day is your chance to vote for it.