Change for the better

Welcome back to term 2!

Today’s live stream broadcast with the Education Minister Prue Car and Acting Secretary Murat Dizdar was a refreshing change.

It was the most honest communication we have witnessed in years. An acknowledgement of the workforce crisis we face and a welcome departure from the contempt and disrespect of the previous government.

For those who missed it, the Minister said she believed teachers needed to be better valued and supported and she has instructed the Department to immediately begin negotiating a comprehensive new agreement with Federation to cut workloads and make salaries more competitive.

Ms Car said “pay is at the heart of our teacher crisis” and the professionalism of teachers and sheer force of will that it has taken to keep the public education system functioning in recent years must be acknowledged through higher salaries.

On workloads, the Minister said the Government had heard loud and clear teachers were swamped with requirements. She said the number of mandatory changes impacting schools this term had been halved and a line-by-line review of new policies ordered to make sure they are simplified, streamlined and focused on the needs of teachers and students.

Mr Dizdar also acknowledged the need to cut workloads and would start offering permanent positions to temporary teachers this term,  in line with the Government’s commitment to convert 10,000 temporary positions into permanent ones.

He also said the behaviour strategy was being reviewed and requirements for student behaviour management plans put on hold.

All this stands in clear contrast to the denial we heard from the previous government about the scale of the teacher shortage and its underlying causes of unsustainable workload, uncompetitive pay and an exponential increase in insecure employment.

The broadcast marks a new chapter in NSW public education. It also marks a new phase for Federation.

Since the state election, we have engaged almost daily with the Government and, in particular, Minister Car and her office as it started to take shape. 

It is a respectful relationship. One that we have entered with goodwill and one that we trust we can build on.

The success of the relationship will, of course, depend on the Government delivering on its commitments to the profession.

These include:

  • A reduction of five hours a week in the administrative and compliance workload of teachers
  • The abolition of the wages cap and negotiation of higher salaries
  • The conversion of 10,000 temporary teaching positions into permanent ones
  • A thorough review of the Student Behaviour Policy in consultation with the profession
  • The negotiation of a new agreement with the Commonwealth that finally ends the under-resourcing of public schools and lifts them all to 100 per cent of the minimum Schooling Resource Standard.

We are ready to begin negotiations this week to address your unsustainable workloads and uncompetitive salaries, and restore the respect you deserve from the employer.

Our position in negotiations remains, as it was with the Coalition, informed by the landmark Gallop Inquiry. The findings and recommendations of that inquiry are clearly understood by Premier Chris Minns who told the union’s state council in October that it provided “the blueprint for the change needed to rebuild and reposition the teaching service back to its rightful place”.

As I’ve previously written, the motto of my old high school, Punchbowl Boys HS, is facta non verba; deeds not words. It was instilled in us to always use it to guide oneself in life but also in the judgement of others one ultimately makes.

Judgement on the Minns Government awaits.