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Calls for a review of NSW Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 to protect students and staff in all faith based schools.

Chrissy - About time .... our private life should not be our employer’s business nor should it threaten our jobs

Frances - I think any organisation receiving taxpayer funds should not be able to discriminate against people in this way.

Murray - People and social connection must come first before pragmatic politics every time. I couldn’t imagine a more Christian statement than allowing gay people and others to be actively engaged in faith based school communities. And, of course, Christian faith acknowledges the world is still in the process of becoming. Why are the various faiths then so certain they have arrived and don’t need to evolve their beliefs?

World Teachers Day

Carole - Teachers would have to be one of the most undervalued people on the planet. The dedication required to stay in the profession is enormous, but it has its limits. Right now, too many teachers, good people who were good at the job, are leaving because they feel undervalued. They know what children need to know and how to teach them, what they don’t need is a massively overbearing hierarchy that continues to undermine their ability to make decisions about their own classes and students. There is far too much emphasis on testing, working to irrelevant standards and gaining objectives that are becoming increasingly irrelevant. Give back the responsibility to teachers and schools having control over their curriculum, assessment and real objectives. Any 'standards' should be used as a guideline, not an objective, which is what they’ve become.

How do we bridge the gap between rural and urban schools?

Mel - Fix the internet in rural and regional areas for a start. Offer more professional learning in regional areas so teachers can upskill. Fix the internet so they can access digitally streamed professional learning. Put money into technology so they can access things like year excursions. Funding to allow for subsidised excursions and opportunities for rural students since a lot of opportunities are either very expensive or unavailable without huge travel costs. It would also be great to see charities like Got a Pen expanding into rural and regional areas where drought is taking its toll.

Where do you stand on changes to NAPLAN?

Simon - The results match the research, that deep reading doesn’t happen when something is read online, that children understand less reading online than with physical text.

Carole - Another valid reason to scrap this expensive ‘snap shot’ test, that appears to be causing more problems than solving them. Perhaps a set of attainment guidelines for teachers to keep in mind, would be cheaper and wouldn’t undermine their sense of professionalism.

Why might young people be failing to see the benefits of the union movement? And what could be done to encourage them?

Gemma - I think this is an issue the IEU needs to take seriously in order to ensure the longevity of our Union. I’m in my early 30s but learnt the importance of being a union member when I was underpaid for over a year and a half in my first teaching position at age 22. I am constantly having to explain the virtues of joining the Union to early career teachers. They are fearful that joining the Union will make them a target and they’re so desperate to secure employment they’ll do anything to appease the executive. The irony is that most often the executive are committed members of the Union because they’ve got the most to lose, but they don’t vocalise it. Unions get a bad rap outside the teaching profession but it’s important young teachers hear and see other young teachers being active members within their schools.

Andrew - It’s pretty straightforward. They’re scared. Scared of taking action against their employers because they’ve grown up in a world where unionism has been demonised by largely conservative governments and by the loony right media. Young teachers also have a narrow view of unions. They think it’s all about pay rises.

Wendy - Without the Union it is not possible to work with confidence. It is that simple.

Paul - I joined as soon as I could, before I even got my first job. I’d blame it on a lack of knowledge about the history of unionism and current practice. Many of the conditions won by unions have been enforced by government or at least had government involvement and made standard and young people think this is where they came from, it’s just seen as 'normal'. There is also a sense of 'why?' when unions are so publicly shamed and lied about in media and any strike action being difficult (or even talking about union at work) under threat of outrageous fines. As a result unions are depicted as either thuggish or powerless. Australia needs unions and unions need the right to strike.

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