IEU Assistant Federal Secretary Brad Hayes discusses our union’s federal agenda for the future of the teaching profession and education sector, and the priority reforms that must be delivered by the new Federal Government.
The new ALP Federal Government was elected under the campaign banner ‘A Better Future’.
Our schools and early childhood education centres must now be at the head of the list to bring this slogan into reality – there is no better future for Australia without radical and wide-ranging reforms to our education system.
While the workforce and professional challenges in education are many and complex, the one common element that must underpin all government plans and policy debates is the need to consult with actual education practitioners.
For too long, teachers have been excluded from crucial education debates that have instead been dominated by actors external to the reality in classrooms, often to the detriment of our schools and students.
Early signs have been positive, with the new government adopting a more inclusive and collaborative approach.
It will be a long and difficult path to repair the significant issues in our sector, but for the first time in many years we are at least heading in the right direction.
Union members have been calling out these issues for decades.
Backed by the collective strength of our 75,000 IEU members nationwide, our campaign is underway to make these changes a reality.
Teacher voices must be at the centre of education policy
Australia’s education policies and regulatory authorities have been plagued by a glaring disconnect between their decisions and the reality of classroom teaching and learning.
It is a sadly predictable outcome given the previous federal government’s aversion to listening to real-world practitioners.
Any classroom teacher or support staff member can tell you about the negative impact of successive policy changes and new government requirements impeding their core work educating students.
Our members have first-hand experience, and common-sense solutions, as to how regulatory authorities can streamline compliance procedures and reporting requirements.
Now we need employers and government to listen.
The work of bodies such as the Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) is a clear example of the disconnect between policy makers and the teaching profession.
The Federal Government must act immediately to restore the voice of teachers on the AITSL board.
The IEU and Australian Education Union should be included on the AITSL board, as they were before being removed by the previous government in 2013.
We need the voice of teachers to inform all areas of review and educational reform – NAPLAN, Teach for Australia, Initial Teacher Education (ITE) programs and the Online Formative Assessment Initiative.
The impact on school staff must be at the core of any future discussions.
Government programs and school-level implementation of any new initiatives must also be supported by a foundational commitment to restore the professional autonomy and judgement of teachers.
More red tape, paperwork and bureaucratic intrusions into classrooms will continue to undermine the profession. What teachers need is the discretion and professional respect to get on with their teaching.