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Home > News > 2018 > February > Independent body would limit politics in the classroom

Independent body would limit politics in the classroom

Profession_web.pngA proposed independent education institute to limit the influence of politics inside Australian classrooms has been welcomed by our union as a step in the right direction.

Our union Branch Secretary Terry Burke said while the proposal was welcomed, it was essential for teachers to be represented in any such body.

“Teachers are best placed to provide feedback on what works and what does not work in our classrooms, yet so frequently in recent years, we have seen teachers excluded from key decisions impacting Australian education.

“Successive governments have treated education reform as an ideological and political battlefield – at the expense of students and teachers,” Mr Burke said.

Federal Opposition Education Minister Tanya Plibersek, who announced the proposal this week, said the independent body would receive $280m in funding over 10 years if her party formed government. 

The institute would be tasked with commissioning research, evaluating school programs and providing resources to schools and educators.

“Armed with the best and latest evidence in digestible, easily applicable formats, teachers will be able to exercise their professional judgement about how to best help their students,” Ms Plibersek said. 

Mr Burke said quality education reform required significant research, planning, evaluation rather than ‘quick fix’ measures governments had relied on in the past.

“Governments are locked in an ever-evolving argument over the next big idea in education reform or how our schools can be ‘fixed’, but it is undeniable that such short-sighted measures have had a negative impact on the teaching profession.

“We have also seen governments rely on boards and bodies populated by ‘experts’ with little real experience in the classroom; this in turn has eroded the autonomy which is central to teachers’ professional identities.

Mr Burke said a body such as the proposed independent institute would require input from practising teachers and their unions to effectively address the many varied issues affecting the profession.

“Teachers are faced with a spiralling administrative workload, often caused by reporting obligations and the provision of standardised testing measures, which has detracted from the true practise of teaching and this must be addressed.”

“Teachers have had their voice excluded from decisions on education reform for far too long; it is time for teachers to reclaim their profession.”

The announcement of the independent body comes as the Federal Government awaits the findings of yet another review into school funding.

The Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools, which is often referred to as the ‘Gonski 2.0 review’, was announced by the Turnbull government in 2017 and is due to report its findings next month. 

The previous significant review into education funding, the Review of Funding for Schooling, was also headed up by David Gonski and reported back to the Gillard government in 2011.