What now for Australian education?
With the Coalition returning to Parliament after July’s federal election, what is in store for education and what will it mean for IEUA-QNT members?
Prior to the election our union contacted the federal political parties, including the Coalition, regarding their policies and how they will affect those working in the non-government education sector.
A commitment was sought on a raft of important matters ahead of the federal election, including:
- A school funding model funded for 2018-2019 and beyond, requiring all state governments to meet funding co-commitment levels as identified in School Review Report;
- Appropriate and adequate funding to the Early Childhood Education sector;
- Commitment to adequately fund students with disabilities.
While the Coalition had failed to respond to member concerns on these important issues prior to the election, uncertainty still remains on their commitment to education.
School funding tied to performance pay
Prior to the election, the Coalition announced plans to allocate an ‘additional’ $1.2 billion in school funding for 2018-2020.
Such funding was also conditional on implementing a vague and undefined performance pay deal for teachers.
IEUA-QNT Assistant Secretary Brad Hayes said any future plan to link performance to salary would be detrimental to the collegial collaboration essential for good teaching practice, with similar structures proving ineffective as a means of improving student outcomes when implemented by overseas governments.
Any move by the government to “link teacher salary progression to demonstrated competency and achievement against the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers, rather than just length of service” would be a threat to the current entitlements of all teachers in our sector.
“The assumption that teacher performance has a direct relationship to standardised test results reveals the painful lack of insight the government has when it comes to complexity and nature of teaching and learning,” he said.
Our union continues to condemn linking performance to salary as a reckless and ineffective means of improving student outcomes.
Uncertainty for early childhood education
In the 2016 Budget, the government announced a freeze on additional investment in early childhood education and care until 2018.
However, the re-elected Turnbull government did commit to 15 hours of preschool a week in the year before school.
Unfortunately, no ongoing funding has been announced for universal access beyond the end of 2017.
Our union continues to campaign for adequate funding for the early childhood sector so children have the best start to life.
Students with a disability to remain disadvantaged
The federal government has committed an additional $118.2 million until 2017 to increase support for students with a disability, ahead of new funding distribution models commencing in 2018.
This current funding model, as previously revealed in the Federal Budget, leaves many schools such as low-fee independent schools and those with high proportions of students with disability, facing a widening gap of disadvantage.
What happens now?
IEUA-QNT and its members will continue to hold the federal government to account to provide a commitment to quality education and appropriate levels of education funding.
Members will also continue to campaign against any plans to introduce performance pay.
This article was extracted from the September 2016 edition of Independent Voice.