Australia Wide

NSW|Advancing the agenda of induction and mentoring

Securing Our Future, a major IEU conference held in Sydney on 21 and 22 May 2015, gathered together a wide range of academics and school practitioners to focus on best practice in induction and mentoring (see pages 12-14).

Teacher mentors and educational leaders in schools and early childhood centres in NSW and the ACT had the opportunity to explore a broad range of topics by expert speakers presenting current research and practical strategies.

The Union has been a long and strident advocate for effective induction and mentoring for new teachers and those undergoing accreditation. Over the last decade, with accreditation of teachers enshrined in legislation in both NSW and the ACT, the issue of induction and mentoring has become a key issue at the NSW Quality Teaching Council (QTC) and the ACT Teacher Quality Institute (TQI).

The establishment of broad policy, however, is only a first step. Guaranteed resourcing and clear employer policies are essential to ensure the success of induction and mentoring programs. In the finalisation of matters for a new Enterprise Agreement (EA) covering school staff in Catholic systemic schools across NSW and the ACT, teachers working towards accreditation at Proficient level and their mentors will have support guaranteed in the EA for the first time. A number of the related Diocesan Work Practice Agreements specify entitlements. The IEU will continue to advance both the professional and industrial agendas in the area of induction and mentoring.

Victoria|Private VET colleges under scrutiny

The Victorian Government is in the process of carrying out a funding review of Victorian Vocational Education and Training (VET), particularly focusing on the growing problems in private VET colleges.

IEUVicTas has union coverage of staff in private VET colleges and Registered Training Organisations and made a submission to the government review highlighting systemic problems in the sector. In particular, the industry is characterised by precarious, casualised employment and employees are certainly subject to significant pressure to train students in overly short courses which rely on fast-tracking students and fast churn of numbers in and out of the colleges.

The industry is also rife with sham contracting where those delivering training are required to provide an ABN so that employers are able to avoid obligations provided by the relevant industrial instruments.

Through the IEU’s extensive experience in supporting its members employed in private VET colleges, it believes that a number of serious, inherent problems such as easy availability of funding under the current funding mechanisms, the highly casualised and vulnerable workforce, the massive growth of the sector over a relatively short period of time, tied to an inability of regulatory authorities to effectively regulate this sector, have resulted in a crisis of quality and confidence in VET training which is neither serving industry nor students and the community in Victoria.

The IEU believes that the Victorian Government needs to ensure tighter regulation and monitoring around the marketing and delivery of courses. In addition, stronger regulation is needed in respect to ensuring that course content and standards are appropriately delivered.

South Australia|Governance and accountability in schools

An interesting, and probably unprecedented, dispute has arisen between a significant group of parents and the school management.

Rather than just pulling their children out and going elsewhere, the parents have mounted an ongoing series of demonstrations complete with placards, megaphones and noisy slogans that would make any Union proud. Students are being used in organised boycotts of the school. The parents are calling for the replacement of the school board; the board is resisting all approaches.

The structural issues go the accountability of the school to the parent community, the school registration authority and ultimately to the federal and state ministers. The federal minister called on the state minister to intervene. The state minister asked the school registration authority which says it only has power over safety and curriculum. No-one wants this hot potato.

It would seem that no civil authority has the power to intervene in some fundamental issues which go to the proper governance of a school in terms of industrial relations, effectiveness of teaching practices, proper use of government funding and management by people without teacher accreditation.

Maybe ‘independent’ schools shouldn’t be quite so independent when in receipt of significant public funding.

Queensland|Research to explore decline of male teachers

The Queensland College of Teachers (QCT) will undertake major research in 2015 to analyse the continuing decline in the proportion of male teachers in Queensland.

In recent years QCT has undertaken research to analyse data held on past and present registered teachers, including the decline in the number of males entering the profession.

Teachers 20 years ago were made up of 30% male, 70% female; today, 25% of registered teachers are men, according to QCT.

QCT believes this will decrease to 20% in 10 years time, due to fewer men entering the profession and those in the profession aging and retiring.

Currently 43% of male teachers are 50 years or over, with one in three male teachers aged over 60 years old.

This is almost twice the proportion than those aged under 25 years old, at one in six.

Another factor to the diminishing proportion of male teachers is higher attrition rates.

In 2015 QCT will undertake a major research initiative to further investigate these trends around male teacher registration numbers.

Male teachers will be surveyed, along with consideration given on previous research, analysis of QCT data and obtaining information from stakeholder groups.

Information from the research will help inform policy development, relevant stakeholder consultations and activities for QCT to pursue to address these concerns.

Northern Territory|Teachers face new registration requirements

Northern Territory teachers must provide evidence of their professional learning under new registration requirements to come into effect this year.

The new teacher registration renewal process will see fully registered teachers needing to demonstrate they have completed 100 hours of professional learning over the previous five years in order to have their full registration status renewed.

These same requirements will also apply to fully registered relief teachers and teachers on short term contracts.

The required professional learning consists of at least 100 hours of professional development that aligns with the Professional Standards for Competent Teachers in the Northern Territory.

The renewal process will require teachers to formally declare that they meet the registration renewal requirements as published on the Teacher Registration Board of the Northern Territory (TRB) website

Random audits will be undertaken by the TRB from 2016 with selected teachers asked to provide evidence of their professional learning; this evidence must then be retained for 12 months after registration is granted, to back up their declarations. Detailed evidentiary requirements and standards, including what types of professional development the Board will accept, are published on the TRB website.

IEUA-QNT representative on the Board, Elsabe Bott, said members needed to be aware of the full professional development requirements and be able to produce records showing they have done the required learning to avoid having their registration downgraded until they complied with the requirements.

Western Australia|Building on success

Long serving IEU Secretary Theresa Howe retired in May and was replaced by VicTas Assistant Secretary Angela Briant.

Theresa started as WA branch secretary in 1996. Under her leadership the branch got its first office. Initially there were just a handful of staff and a few hundred members. Now there are nearly 5000 IEU members and 20 staff. After years of hard work Theresa achieved pay parity for non-government school teachers with government teachers. Teachers in WA are the highest paid in Australia. Paying tribute to Theresa’s many achievements in the role, Angela said she planned to consolidate on the good work.

“I’ve met many of the team at IEU officers’ meetings and they are a strong collegiate group,” Angela said.

“There are more independent schools than Catholic schools in WA compared to Victoria and Tasmania, so that in itself presents some challenges.

“I am looking forward to working with the team and membership and building on their success in a tightening economic environment.”