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Home > News > Professional Issues > Professional Issues Volume 4 > AITSL excludes teachers’ union voice

AITSL excludes teachers’ union voice

empty_table.jpgThe IEUA-QNT and the Queensland Teachers’ Union (QTU) have both withdrawn support for the Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) initiatives after the previous Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne chose to exclude the teachers’ union voice from the body. 

IEUA-QNT Branch Secretary Terry Burke said Mr Pyne failed to give any explanation for the sudden restructure and exclusion of practitioners from decisions about the future direction of the teaching profession. 

“Our union is committed to a course of action designed to restore practitioner rights and representation,” Mr Burke said.  

“The actions of the federal government have repeatedly demonstrated disregard and disdain for the union movement.

“The exclusion of practitioners and the professional associations that represent them, from the board and committees of AITSL undermines respect for the profession, insults the integrity of highly competent, skilled professionals and deters high achieving students from pursuing a career in teaching.

“Under the circumstances, our union and the Queensland Teachers’ Union (QTU) have withdrawn support for AITSL initiatives,” Mr Burke said. 

Established in 2010, AITSL was initially positioned as a strategic body that would provide advice to the Federal Education Minister and generate resources that would support practitioners.  

“Both our union and the QTU have previously collaborated with AITSL on initiatives such as the development of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers and the Australian Teacher Performance and Development Framework,” Mr Burke said.

“This collaboration was undertaken in good faith, on the understanding that AITSL was committed to implementing change in a manner that acknowledged the operational reality of practitioners, who have, historically been expected to implement changes conceived, designed and imposed without meaningful industrial support.

“Ongoing changes in AITSL’s governance and committee structure indicate that, like other education bodies, AITSL is now pursuing an agenda driven by the ill-informed opinions of those unfamiliar with the day-to-day challenges of implementing curriculum and assessment.  

“Such failure to consult with those responsible for implementation of change does nothing to enhance the quality of education delivered in schools and, ultimately, disempowers the profession and its practitioners,” he said.

As a union of around 17,000 teachers, support staff and ancillary staff in non-government schools across Queensland and the Northern Territory, IEUA-QNT consistently engages in debate and consultation around professional issues at both state and national levels.  

When AITSL released its position paper  on pre-service teacher education in September, our union seized the opportunity to register our concerns in relation to the lack of consideration of the role of practising teachers who serve as supervisors and mentors, and the contribution they make to teacher education.  

A letter of response from AITSL CEO, Margery Evans, suggests that the current board of 11 includes seven individuals with at least some past experience in schools and should therefore “bring confidence to teachers and parents alike that the reform being implemented will deliver real change in our schools and for our children”. 

IEUA-QNT Branch Secretary Terry Burke said such a statement shows that AITSL does not recognise the difference between an individual representing their own interests and opinions and a democratically elected representative who advocates for the profession.  

“Until AITSL is prepared to acknowledge this, there is little chance that future initiatives will generate anything other than more frustration for practising teachers, who are subject to wave after wave of reform with few, if any, meaningful industrial provisions to support them,” Mr Burke said. 

Members are encouraged to make their employers aware of this if asked to comply with new programs, such as the recently released “how-to-guides” for classroom observation and consult the member advice documents available from our website.  

Members who have concerns in relation to the implementation of AITSL initiatives within their schools are also encouraged to raise these with their organiser and bring them to the attention of our Education Committee by contacting Adele Schmidt via aschmidt@qieu.asn.au 

Authorised by Terry Burke, Independent Education Union of Australia – Queensland & Northern Territory Branch, Brisbane.