Letter to the editor

PD changes affect teachers and providers

I refer to advice from NESA, regarding changes in Professional Development. Announced 30 November 2020, they were described by NESA as follows:

“So that NESA can guarantee the quality and value of all PD courses, from today NESA has cancelled all current endorsements.”

These unilateral changes will profoundly affect all individual teachers and the profession. They extinguish, with immediate effect, my school's capacity to support teaching staff by providing accredited professional development on occasions where that is appropriate (as per existing obligations) and interrupt the economic livelihoods of many providers.

The inquiry which led to the cancellation of all current endorsements was commenced with a Ministerial request on 21 July 2020. A corresponding parliamentary question was asked by Hon Mark Latham MLC in September 2020. Going forward it will be revealed the extent the measures serve, amongst a number of purposes, to significantly bring to realisation, by an extreme action, consistent representations of the One Nation MP in the NSW Legislative Council. Point 3 of his stated program is to outlaw gender fluidity teaching, training, and course development in NSW.

My school's common room meeting held on 30 August 2019 was progressed as a workshop facilitated discussion with teaching staff and IEU Assistant Secretary Liam Griffiths as guest speaker. The notes for that meeting state:

“If teachers are to become the arbiters of how teaching is governed, to take control of their profession, teachers and teacher unions will then have a very significant role to play in both public policy and professional practice.”

The current requirements for teachers to complete NESA Registered PD and general self-identified PD will be replaced by requirements to complete professional development in priority areas in each maintenance period. The IEU, as one of the first NESA accredited providers of registered PD in NSW, will now have to rework the scope and range of its own PD agenda, schools will also have to re-examine this and all teachers will be significantly impacted.

That the NSW Government is so emboldened in its view that such action can be taken without material consequences for them is perhaps a reflection of the profession’s own failures to take responsibility for its self-determination, its welfare, the weakening of material support for teacher unions and professional representation. COVID considerations and otherwise, the professions capacity to provide independent oversight and advocacy in discharging responsibilities remains compromised and at the whim of government.

I thank the IEU for its commitment to professional representation and professional development over many years and again commend both the responsibilities to, and wider benefits flowing from, support for professional representation via IEU membership to all teaching staff in the independent sector. The alternative is to hand control of the profession, via NSW Parliament, to those having little knowledge of its experiences nor alignment with its interests.

Bryan Hall
IEU member