Annual Conference 2017

How business is taking over our schools​ (Day 3)

Education technology companies are benefitting financially from developing standards and data infrastructure in schools, according to the Commercialisation in Public Schooling study, launched on day three of Federation Annual Conference.
 
Teachers and school leaders are concerned about this increasing ‘creep’ of commercialism into public schooling, a university survey conducted as part of CIPS shows.
 
“Significant amounts of commercial activity” are already taking place in public schools in Australia, conference was told by Dr Greg Thompson, who is Associate Professor of Education Research at the Queensland University of Technology and one of the co-authors of the report. The survey involved 2,193 teachers and school leaders across Australia, with 51 per cent located in NSW.
 
Around 74 per cent of those surveyed saw the ethics of having student data in commercial hands as a major concern and 72 per cent were also highly concerned at the way public schools are being run as a business.
 
For nearly half of those surveyed (45 per cent) the most significant concern was business dictating education policy, and 36 per cent were also highly concerned at teacher activities being outsourced. Fifty-seven per cent were also highly concerned about the lack of departmental support. School principals are also particularly concerned about having to pay for services that were traditionally supplied by the Department of Education, Dr Thompson says. While some respondents saw some benefits to public-private partnerships: “There’s a really strong sense that commercialisation has no place in public schools,” he said. “There’s also a real concern I think among participants that Australia seems to be learning the wrong lessons from the UK and the US and bringing those into our schools. As well, one of the really significant things is that people are concerned that public schools will go the way of TAFE.”
 
Commercial activity is already advanced and currently, Australian schooling now has the most developed national data infrastructure in the world, due to standardisation rollout, the study says. The development of open standards has helped an alliance of corporate interests to grow the value of the overall data “pie” in order to grow the value of their market segment.
 
Overseas, in 2014, the value of the US Education Technology (EdTech) market was estimated to be worth over $8.38 billion by the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA). This was 5.1 per cent higher than in 2013.
 
“Testing and assessment was the most valuable market category in 2014, worth $US2.5 billion, after growing by 57% over the previous two years,” the study, commissioned by Federation, found. These categories were followed by English language arts and reading content, maths content and online courses.
 
“Both testing and assessment and data analysis and integration are identified as key growth areas for the industry in the coming years.”
 
A case study presented to conference confirms that commercialism is entering schools through the standardisation of software and data set products under the National Schools Interoperability Program (NSIP), where some policy standards are being developed by the private education technology sector. NSIP is a joint initiative of State, Territory and Federal Ministers for Education.
 
Queensland academic Professor Bob Lingard, of the School of Education at the University of Queensland, told conference there are big questions to deal with in this area such as how this trend may change work practices for teachers and learning for children. “There’s a lot to think about here and there’s a lot going on under the radar which is escaping scrutiny.” NSIP is “quite unknown in the teaching profession and we need to think about it a lot more”.
 
“The forums that have been established to advance the agenda of standardisation enable commercial actors to shape the demands of users, which in this case are often governments and may further contribute to growing demand for generic products,” the study warns.
 
Launched by Federation President Maurie Mulheron and Project Director of Education International Angelo Gavrielatos, the study found that in February this year, 13 commercial vendors were already operating education projects in Australia that comply with standards set by the Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF).
 
These include assessment and reporting software, cloud-based student identity management, learning apps, learning platforms and others. There were also now 16 company members of SIF AU in February this year. SIF was launched in Australia in 2009, following an earlier launch in the United States by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.
 
However, further education involvement in the US from Mr Gates met with resistance. Opposition from activist groups shut down a program in the US called inBloom, run by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which sought to establish a standard infrastructure to manage school data across schools, districts and states. Concerns over data privacy and technology companies profiting from personal data led to the closure of the program in 2013.
 
In the United States, privacy concerns have provoked “outrage” from parents, students and educators, Professor Lingard says. He conducted research and interviews for another case study on the parent activist Opt-Out movement, where 26 per cent of parents in New York and 50 per cent on Long Island last year opted their children out of standard testing from Years 3-8 to boycott tests in the schooling system. The Trump Budget cuts of $9 billion to public education are also likely to strengthen the resolve of those opposed to the corporate reform agenda, Professor Lingard says.
 
In the wake of these developments, the EdTech industry is now employing strategies such as partnerships between philanthropies and think-tanks to push for regulatory changes to allow the joining up of datasets and freer access to student data, the report finds.
 
The study raises two key issues of importance for teachers’ unions in Australia. Firstly, concerns about data privacy have been successfully mobilised by opponents to commercial involvement in public education in order to block major initiatives such as inBloom in the United States and these concerns have now been identified by the EdTech industry as a major obstacle.
 
“Privacy regulations will be an important terrain upon which to evaluate and where necessary challenge commercial activity that involves improper private usage of data generated in and by public education systems,” the report finds.
 
Secondly, the operation of data infrastructure in education provides commercial actors with “hidden and technically complex means to subtly orchestrate activities in schools and school systems”, the report says. As a result, it will be important to monitor any changes to the work practices of educators and the effect on students and learning that may result from new data and software applications.
 
In future, the needs and capacities of public schools will be subtly shaped by the provision of software, the study says. In the next three to five years, the chief information officers of all education players will see a significant shift in their role in the market.
 
“This shift will be for education jurisdictions to act as information hubs, exposing students, staff and school data to trusted third party developers…” according to NSIP.
 
Mr Gavrielatos concluded the Commercialisation in Public Schooling session at conference by issuing a call to action to support the global response movement against big corporates in education such as Pearson.
 
“We are organising and mobilising around the world to build a global response,” he told conference. He called on Federation members to demonstrate solidarity, saying the issue of commercialisation in public schooling is “bigger than one union”.
 
“It’s all so scary,” he said.

Unions call on super funds and government to take action on affordable housing (Day 3)

The Sydney housing market is in crisis for essential workers such as teachers and the issue is now being addressed by unions, political parties and even superannuation funds, Federation General Secretary John Dixon told Federation annual conference today (Tuesday 4 July).
 
Teachers, nurses, police and other emergency workers who once could afford to purchase their own home within a reasonable distance of their place of work have been either pushed out of the housing market and into the private rental market. They have also been pushed to the metropolitan fringes of the greater Sydney region or satellite housing markets on the Central Coast, Newcastle or Illawarra region.
 
At present, some teachers may even qualify for some NSW public housing under state government eligibility rules, Mr Dixon told the conference. “It may come as a surprise to most people that a teacher with a university degree and permanent employment with a government department may be eligible for affordable housing. However, under the NSW government's own eligibility guidelines, many classroom teachers would be eligible if such housing stock existed.”
 
Different to “social housing”, which is public housing for people on very low incomes provided by government or non-profits, “affordable housing” is defined as that which is appropriate for the needs of low to moderate income households and priced so it costs less than 30 per cent of gross household income, under NSW Department of Housing guidelines.
 
Under the current NSW Department of Housing “low-income” limit of $67,700, a teacher on Step Five of the teachers’ pay scale (earning $65,608) would at present qualify for government rental assistance and be eligible for 'affordable housing' schemes, Mr Dixon says.
 
Even under the 'moderate' income limit of $101,400 applied by the NSW Department of Housing, all classroom teachers up to and including step 13, (the top of the classroom salary scale) would be eligible for "affordable housing" schemes. “The problem of course is the lack of supply of suitable 'affordable housing' for key workers such as teachers,” says Mr Dixon.
 
As a result of this crisis, some unions have now begun to look at the question of affordable housing for their respective members. Early talks have been held by Federation with First State Super and Teachers Mutual Bank about proposals to enable teachers to access affordable housing in the areas in which they work. The talks arose out of discussions initiated at Unions NSW in the context of the state wages policy and the restricted powers of the NSW Industrial Relations Commission.
 
As the “default superannuation fund” for public sector workers in NSW, First State Super is the logical fund to invest in affordable housing projects that can house teachers, nurses, police and emergency workers in affordable dwellings for purchase or rent.
 
In May, NSW Labor announced a policy that at least 25 per cent of new properties built on government land be set aside for affordable housing and 15 per cent of dwellings on privately-owned land zoned for housing be designated for affordable housing.
 
“The Opposition says it will make tens of thousands of properties available each year to people who do not qualify for social housing, but do not earn enough to get into the current property market,” Mr Dixon told the annual conference when presenting a position paper on the issue.

Inquiry to investigate consequences of devolutionary policies on public education (Day 3)

Federation will fund an independent inquiry into devolutionary policies, President Maurie Mulheron announced on the third day of Annual Conference.
 
Work that was previously done by public servants inside the NSW education department, has been forced onto schools, due to job losses within the department.
 
The union is concerned that devolutionary policies, such as Local Schools, Local Decisions, are shifting responsibilities that should sit with the government and department onto schools — teachers, principals and administrative staff.
 
Teachers are concerned that the extra responsibilities are taking them away from their core teaching and learning duties.
 
The inquiry will look at the loss of the department’s capacity to support schools and the impact this is having on the nature of teachers’ work.
 
It will also look at how principals’ work is being redefined from a leading teacher role to a business administrator role.
 
When the research team has been established, Federation members will be asked to contribute to the research.

Federation to build Stop TAFE Cuts campaign​ (Day 2)

Federation to build Stop TAFE Cuts campaign​ (Day 2)

Federation resolved at Annual Conference to build the national Stop TAFE Cuts campaign and to build cross-party political support to commit to a 70 per cent funding guarantee for TAFE.
 
“We will resource it well and make this the national issue that we have made Gonski,” Federation President Maurie Mulheron told delegates today (Monday).
 
This follows an announcement in May this year by the Federal ALP to guarantee that at least two-thirds of public funding will go directly to TAFE under a future ALP federal government. “Between the two major parties, there is now a major difference for the first time in many years,” Mr Mulheron said.
 
Federation will now build capacity in its activist base with a major recruitment drive and provide intensive community-based training for TAFE activists, he said.
 
In several states, TAFE enrolment share has now plummeted to 30 per cent. Nationally, TAFE enrolment share is now only 50 per cent. In several states, 80 per cent of VET-in-schools programmes are being conducted by for-profit providers. NSW has largely been “kept from the worst of what has happened in other states”, due to hard work and strategic campaigning by Federation and other activists, Mr Mulheron said.
 
This year’s Federal budget will result in a funding cut to the vocational education and training sector by 9.7 per cent in real terms from 2016-17 to 2017-18 and across the forward estimate years by 2.1 per cent in real terms from 2017-18 to 2020-2021, Australian Education Union (AEU) Deputy Federal Secretary Pat Forward told Federation Annual Conference today.
 
TAFE is in crisis, with funding has fallen by 42 per cent since 1997 and will be further cut by nearly 10 per cent over the next year, she told delegates at the conference. “TAFE has been in a hell of a lot of trouble and remains in a hell of a lot of trouble,” she said.
 
The whole sector is “damaged”, with enrolments falling by 16 per cent last year, she told conference.
 
Federation resolved to continue to build the Stop TAFE Cuts campaign with the AEU and Unions NSW through 2017 and into 2018.The campaign will set out to expose the damaging effects of private provision and the impact of private for-profit providers.
 
It will also seek to build and maintain alliances with community and industry organisations and employers and provide TAFE campaign updates, with key staff in high schools included. The campaign will also aim to rebuild the teaching profession in TAFE and defend and maintain TAFE’s role as the leading provider of TAFE-delivered vocational education and training (TVET) courses in public schools.
 
Ms Forward said key activities for the Stop TAFE Cuts campaign over the next year will include public debate about the importance and significance of TAFE and public vocational education, plus roundtables in Sydney and Melbourne.
 
The AEU also hold its TAFE conference in October this year. Public policy will be further developed in vocational education and alliances expanded with educational bodies such as the John Cain Foundation and the Whitlam Institute.
 
Ms Forward said TAFE funding has fallen by 42 per cent since 1997 and by 24 per cent since 2008. The main impacts on TAFE have been the loss of market share and the status of a minority provider in two states and are close to a minority nationally 30 per cent in Queensland, 35 per cent in Victoria and only 50 per cent nationally.
 
In terms of Corrective Services, Federation Annual Conference also condemned the NSW government for its outsourcing of education provision in NSW prisons. Last year, 138 teachers in prisons lost their jobs due to privatisation of teaching in NSW prisons, Mr Mulheron told the conference. “We are still alive though,” said Mr Mulheron. “Twenty teachers still work in the system and remain in the sector. We will take this campaign to the next state election and hold this government to account to rebuild public provisions in gaols.”
 
Federation resolved to continue to campaign to ensure that access to public education is restored across the NSW prison system.

Strong basis exists for increased special education funding (Day 2)

Solid ground exists on which to conduct future campaigning for special education funding after the dumping of the Gonski needs-based schools funding model by the Turnbull government, Federation Annual Conference delegates heard today (Monday).
 
Federation Officer attached to the Special Education Committee, Claudia Vera, said foundations for equity exist within the Disability Standards, the Melbourne Declaration, the National Disability Strategy and the findings of the Gonski Review.
 
She said the Nationally Consistent Collection of Data, National Disability Insurance Scheme and the outcome of the NSW disability inquiry would inform and feed the campaign.
 
Delegates heard from Ms Vera that “more than ever, our members, system and students need our unity, our collective voice, and a viable, disciplined plan responding to the tension of short-term urgency and long-term vision”.
 
She invited teachers to campaign for intervention that leads to improved teacher capacity and student outcomes through universal practice.

Federation to mount schools funding campaign for next federal poll​ (Day 2)

In the wake of Turnbull Government legislation that cuts public education funding, Federation has resolved to mount a major campaign on schools funding issue for the next federal election.
 
“We’re going after them. We’re not going to put up with this,” Federation President Maurie Mulheron told Federation Annual Conference today (Monday). “The reduction in funding will not hurt people in Macquarie Street, it will hurt kids in schools.” His recommendation to mount the election campaign was adopted by the conference, held at the International Convention Centre (ICC) in Sydney’s Darling Harbour.
 
Delegates voted in favour of the recommendation to develop and implement the most comprehensive schools funding campaign possible for the next federal election, which may be held as early as next year. The campaign will intensify in targeted federal electorates and in the lobbying of crossbenchers in the Senate, Mr Mulheron told the conference.
 
Federation will allocate resources and take the campaign to the Australian Education Union (AEU) for rollout across the country. Federation will continue to pressure all political parties to restore a needs-based, sector blind funding model that ensures all public school students’ needs are met, he said. “We are not going to rest until that is achieved,” Mr Mulheron said.
 
For the next phase of the schools funding campaign, Federation will provide paid advertising and social media, as well as training and resources for Federation Representatives and workplace committees, principals, parents and community members to maximise support. “Community members will be trained in media skills,” Mr Mulheron said. “This campaign will fight and use resources right up till the next election.”
 
The foundations for this next phase of the campaign will be built in the second half of the 2017 school year, for full implementation early in 2018 to prepare for the federal election. The campaign must engage individuals and communities across all electorates and involve intensive local action, Mr Mulheron told delegates.
 
The campaign will build on current momentum earned by the Gonski campaign. “The movement we have created has woken a sleeping giant,” Mr Mulheron told the conference.
 
The campaign is needed because this year’s Turnbull Government legislation on schools funding unilaterally terminates all National Education Reform Agreements and dismantles the needs-based schools funding model. As a result, all private schools across Australia will automatically receive 80 per cent of the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) from the Commonwealth, regardless of need. By contrast, public schools will receive only 20 per cent of the SRS from the Commonwealth. So these are “completely arbitrary levels determined by the Education Minister”. This inequity will lead to many rich private schools receiving large increases in funding over the next six years, Mr Mulheron said. Currently only one-third of independent schools receive less than 20 per cent of their SRS entitlement, he said.
 
Previous funding agreements with the states are also unilaterally terminated, which means that billions of dollars due from 2018 will not be delivered. “The NSW agreement was unilaterally torn up with the passage of this Bill,” Mr Mulheron said.
 
For NSW schools, this is estimated to be a loss of approximately $1.5 billion over the next four years. Under this system, less than one per cent of private schools will actually have their funding decreased on a yearly basis, he added. The recommendation was amended by Federation Vice President Joan Lemaire for the union to demand that the NSW Education Department develop a funding framework for the system to ensure that funding is allocated to support teaching and learning.
 
Another amendment on creating community and media support for students with disabilities was also carried.
 
Federation will continue to work with the Australian Education Union (AEU) in the national election campaign, as well as the peak NSW principal and parent organisations, other community organisations such as Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (AECG), Children and Young People with Disability Australia (CYDA), Ethnic Communities Council (EEC) and Australian Council of State School Organisations (ACSSO), and Unions NSW and the ACTU.
 
The union will campaign to ensure all major state political parties, including the NSW Coalition, maintain their commitment to a sector blind, needs based funding model up to and beyond the next federal and state elections, Mr Mulheron said.

Teachers want reduced face-to-face teaching to support quality teaching and learning​ (Day 1 and 2)

Teachers’ professional judgement would be the focus of a new campaign, in response to issues of work overload, Senior Vice President Joan Lemaire told Annual Conference.
 
“Our experience of burdensome, unnecessary work, bureaucratic and administrative work, is a reaction to the command and control mechanisms of accountability. This not only adds additional tasks, responsibilities, time and effort, particularly when the software systems are not functional, but they restrict and control aspects of the way we work, undercutting professional judgement and trust in the profession,” Ms Lemaire said.
 
Federation will seek commitments from NSW political parties that any new government will provide a reduction in face-to-face teaching time to allow classroom teachers, executives and teaching principals the necessary time to support quality teaching and learning including time for collaborative planning, programming assessing and reporting; to meet mandatory training requirements; to support professional learning and performance development activities; to develop support and strategies for students with additional learning and behaviour needs.
 
The union also wants a minimum lead time of one year for planning and preparation around significant changes in terms of introduction of new technology and/or software, curriculum change, accountability requirements and ‘reforms’.
 
Federation will also negotiate with the Department for a process that will determine the educational value of an educational ‘reform’ and its workload implications before implementation and incorporate an evaluation process of such ‘reforms’.
 
The union’s campaign will be built around a qualitative research project, “Teaching and Learning – Review of Teacher Workload”, being undertaken by researchers from Sydney University.

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Extra demands mean less time for classroom preparation, teachers warn

Extra demands mean less time for classroom preparation, teachers warn​ (Day 1)

Teachers have plenty of ideas about how their work could be better structured  so that they could be given more time to devote to teaching and learning, a new survey commissioned by Federation reveals.
 
On Sunday, delegates to Federation’s Annual Conference heard from academics Susan McGrath-Champ from the University of Sydney Business School and Meghan Stacey from the Sydney School of Education and Social Work at the university, who are conducting the research about workload for Federation.
 
Their survey work found that in some cases new, often administrative, tasks are having an adverse effect on core teaching and learning duties.
 
Teachers reported changes are always in addition to current workloads. One survey respondent said: “It’s like we’re fighting to go up a mountain with a massive rock on our back and then they’re like ‘by the way, do you mind taking mine as well?’”
 
Another teacher said: “There’s less time to effectively pay to students. The quality of teaching I think has in some ways depreciated because you physically don’t have time to plan engaging, interesting, exciting, high quality lessons as often as you used to be able to… You’re spending more time at the end of the day or in the morning catching up on the paperwork you have to do rather than spending that time researching new ways to teach or to engage students.”
 
Survey respondents’ suggestions about managing workload include:

  • time off from face-to-face teaching
  • fewer committees, meetings and better timing of meetings
  • additional teaching staff and/or increased administrative support
  • effective management of parent/teacher contact
  • resistance by school executive in embracing everything that’s new (as this increases workload).

Teachers suggest the Department of Education could:

  • eliminate ineffectual policy; seeking more feedback regarding what changes are working and what’s not working
  • institute fewer new policies, initiatives and changes
  • where new policy is needed, prior assessment needs to be done of workload impact on teachers; fact-to-face teaching needs to be reduced correspondingly and tasks need to be streamlined with other Department requirements
  • less frequent collection of data, form-filling and ‘tick box’ tasks
  • trusts teachers more and establish a more and establish a more positive attitude towards the teaching profession
  • reinstate curriculum support and consultants
  • provide more money for staffing, change the staffing formula to reflect complex student cohorts and reduce class size.

Twelve school leaders (three principals and nine other school executives) and 19 teachers took part in the study.
 
A full report will be made to Federation later in the year.

How to set expectations higher for Aboriginal students: Chris Sarra​ (Day 1)

Setting expectations higher for Aboriginal students can make a real and powerful difference to their education and to their expectations of themselves, teacher delegates at the Federation Annual Conference were told today (Sunday) by Professor Chris Sarra, a prominent Aboriginal educationalist who is Founder and Chairman of the Stronger Smarter Institute.
 
“As an educator you can collude with mediocrity or you can nurture greatness,” he told the audience.
 
Taking an analogy from State of Origin football, he related a conversation shared with Queensland team coach Mal Meninga on how setting expectations for performing higher was one reason why the Queensland team had been so successful.
 
“[Mal said] I used to tell my boys that when they go on the field they just need to give me 110 per cent if you can and that’s all I care about. If you can just do that then the scoreboard will just take care of itself.”
 
This approach is “the perfect analogy for the challenges that we face” in Aboriginal education, Professor Sarra told the Annual Conference. While NAPLAN is just the scoreboard, “what we should be focused on is giving 110 per cent at the most sacred place in our schools and that is where teachers stare children in the face” in the classroom.
 
In everyday ways, this may mean teachers working harder to change whatever negative perceptions they have of Aboriginal students and not colluding with low expectations stereotypes.
In day-to-day terms, this can mean applying the same expectations they have of other students to Aboriginal students. This may mean having “robust” conversations with parents about their kids not going to school, or about not letting the kids get away with swearing at teachers or running around the classroom.
 
In his own life, Professor Sarra put the Strong and Smart philosophy into action. At Cherbourg State School in Queensland, he was appointed as the first Murri or Aboriginal principal and he made a big difference to educational outcomes and attendance rates of Aboriginal students by raising expectations and communicating this to students. Attendance rates rose from 62 per cent in 1998 to 94 per cent in 2004. “We found some keys to success and we wanted to share that around,” Professor Sarra told the conference.
 
In 2006, with the support of the Queensland government, he established the Indigenous Education Leadership Institute, the forerunner to the Stronger Smarter Institute, which trains Aboriginal leaders.
 
“As educators, we either pursue a stronger smarter Aboriginal student identity or we collude with the negative stereotypes. So as educators, it is worth knowing that this negative stereotypical view of Aboriginal students exists. We as teachers in classrooms, we as principals, we as union members or Federation organisation, [should know that] our day-to-day actions and beliefs and behaviours will either collude with this perception or set about smashing it to bits.”
 
With the help of positive messages from his own Aboriginal mother, Professor Sarra says he had a positive mindset about his identity, despite racism when he was growing up in Bundaberg.
 
“I have actively rejected that kind of negative Aboriginal stereotype and I got kids at Cherbourg to reject absolutely the negative stereotypical view.”
 
Chris Sarra is Professor of Education at the University of Canberra, teaching and researching on school leadership, Indigenous education and educational equity.
 
There are now more than 57,000 Aboriginal students in NSW schools and 26 Aboriginal teachers attended this year’s Annual Conference, the conference was also told. In a separate address to deliver the Aboriginal Education Report, Federation Aboriginal Education Coordinator Charline Emzin-Boyd said there are now 1,289 Aboriginal members of Federation.

Student need sacrificed over tax policy, Annual Conference hears​ (Day 1)

Frustrations over the disappearing support for teaching and learning in schools and the extraordinary obsession with data featured in Federation President Maurie Mulheron’s keynote address on the opening day of Annual Conference.

Mr Mulheron said education was a casualty in the war against public provision, a consequence of 30 years of neoliberal economic orthodoxy.

Governments’ failure to maximise tax revenue impacted on schools funding, the conference heard.

Mr Mulheron said students were being asked by government to “sacrifice your needs, compromise your future and lower your expectations in order to ensure that the wealthy, powerful corporations preserve their privilege and influence”
“That’s unacceptable,” he added.

Mr Mulheron said the NSW Department of Education was “disappearing” and thus changing the nature of teachers’ work.

He said that while there had been a net increase of 1600 teachers in schools in the past three years, there had been a reduction of nearly 700 people in state and regional offices, whose primary job was to support schools in teaching and learning.

“This has left us with a Department that doesn’t have capacity to support schools…so it can’t impact on teaching and learning in a supportive way; there’s no curriculum expertise anymore…that responsibility has been heaped onto schools.”

He said that instead “the Department has an extraordinarily unhealthy obsession with data”.

Mr Mulheron said the Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation section of the Department has about 90 staff and “you’d be hard pressed to find a Dip Ed among them”.

“Data is not information and information is not knowledge and knowledge is not wisdom and we need a lot of wisdom back in the department and we know that resides in the teaching service,” Mr Mulheron said.

His speech also touched on workload, schools funding and commercialisation of education, that will also be debated during the three days of the conference.

Seven honoured as new Life Members (Day 1)

Seven teachers with an outstanding record of union activism have been inducted as Federation Life Members.

This morning, on day one of the 2017 Annual Conference, held at the International Convention Centre at Darling Harbour, Life Membership was bestowed on:

  • Raymond Cochrane
  • Michael Crennan
  • Gary Dunbier
  • Noel Creenaune
  • Jennifer Jenkins-Flint
  • Bradden Spillane
  • Geoff Turnbull

Raymond Cochrane has actively campaigned through his long career for disadvantaged schools and smaller class sizes and led opposition against issues such as NAPLAN and the Basic Skills Test.

With a career spanning decades, Michael Crennan has fought as an activist on issues ranging from the Greiner government attacks on education through to Gonski funding and he always takes opportunities to challenge politicians and the NSW Department of Education hierarchy when needed.

As a dedicated Federation councillor, Gary Dunbier has been a strong advocate for public education on many levels, taking a prominent role against the Howard government's WorkChoices industrial policy and in promoting Gonski.

As a former Country Organiser for Federation, Noel Creenaune worked in Aboriginal education and formed lasting connections with Elders in many communities. He’s since taken part in three Gonski bus crusades and opposed the forced amalgamation of high schools.

Former TAFE Organiser Jennifer Jenkins-Flint has been a tireless advocate for women members and TAFE students, striking over teaching hours and fighting against workplace agreements and the unfair treatment of David Hicks. She retired from TAFE teaching in 2014 after 40 years fulltime in eight different colleges.

Brad Spillane has a record of almost 40 years of activism in different schools and associations, opposing workplace changes for teachers, resisting TAFE and school amalgamations and confronting politicians on matters such as Liberal government education cuts. He also represented Federation on the NSW Board of Studies syllabus and has influenced development of the English syllabus.

Geoff Turnbull was President of the TAFE Teachers Association for 24 years and has a lifetime commitment to child welfare, social justice, equity and the peace movement, campaigning against the Vietnam War through to the Iraq War.

The union also paid tribute to four valued Life Members who passed away during the past 12 months: Kevin Hepworth, Graham Hill, Cris Treneman and Tony Vinson.

Future Teacher Scholarship recipients (Day 1)

Fifteen NSW Teachers Federation's Future Teacher Scholarships were presented at Annual Conference today (Sunday).

“This year, we had 65 applications from students at 14 universities,” Nicole Calnan, Federation Membership and Training Officer told the conference.

The scholarships, worth $4,000, are an example of Federation's ongoing commitment to building and supporting the teaching profession in public schools and in supporting the next generation of activists.

This year, the Federation has increased the number of scholarships from 14 to 15, by adding the John Kaye Scholarship, awarded to an applicant who demonstrates a strong commitment to the environment and/or social justice.

Sydney-based Prince Aydin, who is studying at the University of Sydney, was awarded this scholarship. Growing up in a working-class refugee family, being assigned female at birth, navigating a disability, and belonging to the GLBTIQ+ rainbow, has launched Prince into becoming a loyal unionist and activist who has recruited more than 20 student members to Federation this year.

The other recipients are:

Future Teachers who identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander

  • Anthony Celi (Charles Sturt University, Wagga)
  • Joanne Hine (University of Sydney)

Future Teacher from a Language Background Other Than English

  • Natalie Leung (University of Sydney)

Future Teacher in their first year of a Teacher Training Course

  • Bonnie Goodsell (University of Wollongong)
  • Keegan Jacobson (University of New England, Armidale)

Future Teacher from a rural or remote area

  • Reece Holland (University of Newcastle)
  • Acacia Howarth (University of New England, Armidale)

Open to all Future Teachers

  • Raelene Oliver (Charles Sturt University, Bathurst)
  • Emily Young (University of Technology, Sydney)
  • Danielle Ward  (University of Newcastle)
  • Natalie Bell (University of Technology, Sydney)
  • Alison Noble (University of Sydney)
  • Robert Morrison (University of New England Armidale)
  • Isabella Thompson (University of Wollongong)

Annual Conference set to tackle big issues in education

A range of important issues for educators such as teacher workload, affordable housing, the Gonski schools funding campaign and the future of assessment and testing are to be tackled at this year’s Federation Annual Conference.

The event will be held July 2-4 at the new International Convention Centre (ICC) in Sydney’s Darling Harbour.

The problem of affordable housing for teachers will be outlined by Federation General Secretary John Dixon. The Future of assessment and testing will be explored by Federation Deputy President Gary Zadkovich and Federation Vice President Denis Fitzgerald. Federation President Maurie Mulheron will also update conference attendees on the Gonski schools funding campaign.

A number of guest speakers will also address the conference, on topics including edu-business, Aboriginal education and TAFE.

Three academics will explore the topic of edu-business as it relates to commercialisation in public schools. They are Professor Bob Lingard, from the School of Education at the University of Queensland; Dr Greg Thompson, Associate Professor Education Research at the Queensland University of Technology and Lecturer at the University of Queensland, Dr Anna Hogan.

On the topic of Aboriginal education, educationalist Dr Chris Sarra, who is founder and chairman of the Stronger Smarter Institute, will deliver an address.

Other guest speakers include two academics from the University of Sydney, who are conducting a research project: ‘Teaching and Learning – Review of Teacher Workload’.

They are: Susan McGrath-Champ, Associate Professor in Work and Organisational Studies at the University of Sydney Business School and Meghan Stacey, doctoral candidate with the Sydney School of Education and Social Work. Federation Senior Vice President Joan Lemaire will also speak on this issue.