Initial teacher education a focus

Following on from the adoption by state and territory ministers of education in 2015 of the revised national standards required for ITE programs, the Victorian Government in mid 2016 adopted a number of recommendations from its own discussion paper entitled Working Together to Shape Teacher Education in Victoria.

The change to ITE provision in Victoria has four key areas of focus: selection into ITE; pathways into the teaching profession; improving course quality; and developing early career teachers through induction, mentoring and professional development.

The Victorian Government has adopted a new minimum ATAR score of 65 for entry to ITE courses starting 2018 and rising to 70 the following year. Work has also been carried out this year looking at non academic selection criteria and universities are adopting various models for assessing applicants’ personal attributes. Many universities are opting for the Canadian owned CASPer test, apparently modified for Australia.

In addition, work has been carried out on a diploma level ‘preparation’ course as part of the examination of alternative pathways into an ITE undergraduate degree. The initiatives are subject to discussion and advice from a stakeholder reference group. IEU has a representative on the group.


Government turnaround on earlier start

The Tasmanian Government has reversed its decision to lower the school starting age in the face of widespread concerns and has decided instead to provide an opportunity of an additional year of preschool to Tasmanian children who are vulnerable or disadvantaged.

IEU VicTas had raised concerns about the significant resourcing needs required to ensure there were no negative impacts on students, families, staff and school in the implementation of the changes in the Act.

A government report concluded a change to the school starting age would adversely affect the early childhood learning sector, particularly services in rural and regional Tasmania.

New South Wales

NAPLAN use goes beyond diagnostic

The IEUA NSW/ACT Branch is increasingly concerned about the growth of NAPLAN well beyond its original diagnostic purpose. A particular issue in NSW is the new policy introduced by the former NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli that establishes a link between Year 9 NAPLAN results and meeting minimum literacy and numeracy standards for the NSW Higher School Certificate (HSC). The policy is based on a Western Australian model.

To receive an HSC, students who don’t achieve the standard in Year 9 will have to pass an online test in Years 10, 11, 12 or beyond their formal schooling years (up to five years post school).

The plan takes effect from 2020, but it has immediate impact on the 2017 Year 9 cohort of students who have undertaken NAPLAN tests this year. Only 32% of Year 9 in 2017 achieved the minimum standard in all three testing domains. The minimum standard according to the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) is to ensure students have a functional level of reading, writing and maths skills needed for everyday tasks. Surely this would be the domain of teachers rather than standardised, diagnostic testing.

IEU members have reported anguished students and parents concerned that a test in Year 9 is increasing anxiety levels. The issue has had extensive coverage in the media. Reports have described the new policy as ineffective and heartless. Parent groups are concerned about the impact on student health and wellbeing.

This policy requires a rethink. The existing HSC structures can be developed to meet a minimum standard and the linkage between NAPLAN results and the HSC dissolved. Importantly this would enhance the teacher/pupil relationship and remove the notion of a Year 9 test determining an individual’s future.


New reportable conduct scheme

The ACT introduced a reportable conduct scheme on 1 July 2017 which is modelled on the current NSW scheme. Certain employers who work with children are covered by the scheme and are now required to report allegations of reportable conduct to the ACT Ombudsman. Broadly, reportable conduct covers allegations or convictions of child abuse or misconduct towards children.

As in NSW, the ACT Ombudsman is empowered with child protection oversights that include the monitoring of employer investigations, policies, practice and procedures; providing guidance on investigations and the handling of complaints of reportable conduct matters.

Employees in the education sector in schools, child care services – as well as education and care services providers such as after school care – are covered by the scheme. Volunteers and contractors are also considered as employees under the scheme, but only if they are engaged to provide services to children.

The Union supports members by providing information and advice about reportable conduct legislation and its implications for those in child related employment. The Union also provides support and representation for any member who becomes a subject of a reportable conduct allegation.

Western Australia

Statutory review of Teacher Registration Act

The WA Teacher Registration Act came into operation in late December 2012, establishing the Teacher Registration Board to replace the more broadly representative Western Australian College of Teaching.

There was some controversy at the time of the new Act coming into place and the Board being established under a state Liberal government direction. Not the least of the concerns was that the IEU and AEU/state school teachers were excluded from the Board.

Five years on, a Statutory Review of the Act is about to commence. This process is to have significant input from the Stakeholder Reference Group, which includes the IEU.

The Terms of Reference cover four main areas:

1.the operation and effectiveness of the Act

2.the effectiveness of the make up and operations of the Board

3. the need for continuation of the functions of the Board, and

4.the need for amendments to the Act.

The IEU has quite a few suggestions prepared in regard to all of the above, but particularly in relation to the effectiveness of the make up of the Board and the need for amendments to the Act. An issues paper representing key matters, problems and annoyances has been developed with IEU contribution; this will be circulated to registered teachers soon.

Northern Territory

Catholic negotiations continue

Negotiation for a replacement collective agreement in Northern Territory Catholic schools has resulted in some in principle agreement on an increase to the Domestic Violence Leave provision, induction procedures and some technical matters tidying up aspects of the current agreement.

IEUA-QNT Branch Secretary Terry Burke said the employee endorsed log of claims included provisions to improve the release time and remuneration to middle leaders in their various positions of responsibility.

“Employer representatives have recognised that the current provisions have to be enhanced and have accepted employee proposals for an increase in release time.

“In relation to the level of remuneration, employer representatives have agreed to a significant percentage increase, but given the current low base, employee representatives have sought a further escalation over subsequent years.

“Employee representatives have tabled a position to combine the current Hours of Duty memorandum into the collective agreement provisions to bring better operational structure to the hours of duty. The tabled claim also seeks to have full recognition of homeroom duties, school and year assemblies in the Hours of Duty.

“As well as the formal negotiations, out of the session discussions have occurred to progress some technical issues, notably the operation of the personal leave provisions and boarding conditions.

“Notable outstanding items are the exclusion of public holidays from long service leave – Northern Territory and South Australia are the only jurisdictions to include public holidays as part of long service leave – and enhanced superannuation provisions,” Mr Burke said.


Message stick arrives in Brisbane

After travelling throughout schools in Queensland and the Northern Territory, the IEUA-QNT Message Stick was welcomed back to our Union’s Brisbane office on 11 July with a celebratory event.

The Message Stick began its journey in 2016 as a means of building relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members and their communities; consistent with the IEUA-QNT Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).

Communication of information between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nations, clans and language groups was often done through a message stick.

Message sticks support oral messages, especially when the languages of the groups are very different.

Message sticks can also serve as a means for safe passage through another group’s country.

The IEUA-QNT Message Stick was originally donated in 2016 by Aunty Thersa Nunn, an IEUA-QNT member, Noonuccal woman, Quandamooka Elder and member of our RAP Working Group.

Aunty Thersa donated the Message Stick, which was crafted by her father, to encourage IEUA-QNT members and staff to initiate conversations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their communities in order to identify ways that we might work together to achieve the broader goals of reconciliation.

“The Message Stick brings our mob together – it brings peace, it brings story and it brings language,” Aunty Thersa said.

The Message Stick was passed on to IEUA-QNT Branch Secretary Terry Burke as our Union’s RAP Caretaker.

“As this Message Stick travelled, stories were told, stories were shared, stories were understood and learnings were created.

“It is important – as part of our RAP – that our story becomes one of reconciliation,” Mr Burke said.

The Message Stick will now form part of a permanent display at the Brisbane office – to serve as an important symbol and reminder of our Union’s commitment to reconciliation.

To read more about the IEUA-QNT RAP visit

South Australia

Online submissions, marking and moderation

In a first for the South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE), nine Stage 2 subjects will move to the online submission of assessment materials in September.

The transition to online submission is part of the SACE Board’s efforts to modernise key functions and procedures over the next four years, and further align student assessment with teaching and learning technologies used in the classroom.

Last year, the SACE Board asked teachers whether their classroom assessments were paper based or electronic, and discovered that students of these nine subjects were already submitting most of their work electronically. Therefore, it makes sense for these subject teachers to be early adopters of the online submission process, and to lead the way in online marking and moderation.

The changes form part of a $10.6 million funding package in the 2016-2017 State Budget to modernise the SACE, and will open the way to a more efficient system. Under the current student assessment model, schools are required to package and send more than 42,000 envelopes of students’ essays, reports, and investigations for external marking, and a further 12,000 bags of student work are sent to a central location for a three-week moderation period.

By moving to online submission, marking and moderation, the SACE Board can reduce this administrative burden, overcome any limitations with the current process, and create opportunities for more dynamic, interactive and student centred assessment while delivering performance data more rapidly.

This also meets the growing demand from students and schools to present evidence of learning in multimodal formats.

Another level of support developed is more equitable access to high quality professional learning. The SACE Board’s new online professional learning platform, PLATO, will be available for all teachers in 2018 to support their interpretation and application of the performance standards.