Teachers' voices silenced

John Quessy

When the amendments to various education legislations in NSW take effect (January 2017) the State Government will have achieved one of its principle objects – to minimise the capacity of practicing teachers to be consulted and have any real voice in influencing education and teaching policy in the state.

There is no place guaranteed by legislation on the new board replacing BOSTES (the Education Standards Authority) for a practicing teacher. The Minister might appoint one but might not. The board of 12-14 will all be ministerial appointments, picked by whoever is education minister come January.

The Quality Teaching Committee (formally the Quality Teaching Council) has been reduced from 11 elected teachers to five. The Catholic and independent school sector can expect no more than a single position. Some 37% of the teaching force will be represented by 20% of the positions. With luck the early childhood sector might maintain representation. However it seems elected teachers will be a minority on the committee.

Primary and secondary classroom teachers, principals and others in leadership positions from metropolitan and regional NSW at all career stages across our extremely diverse sector will be restricted to a single voice.

The existing 11 elected QTC teachers will have their term cut short by more than half and a new election, likely paid for from the same accreditation fees which paid for the last election, will be held sometime in 2017. This poll will take place a few months before the pre 2004 teachers are accredited (January 2018) and will most likely disenfranchise some 50% of the teaching force.

While all accredited teachers in our sector will get to vote in any election, not all will be eligible to stand for election. To represent your colleagues, the government has maintained a property qualification: candidates must own an ongoing teaching position. Casuals will not be eligible.

Such is the condition of democracy in NSW.