Ashgrove state election forum
20 February 2012
Candidates who attended:
- Sandra Bayley (Queensland Greens)
- Kate Jones (ALP)
Candidates who declined:
- Campbell Newman (LNP)
- Norman Wicks (Katter's Australian Party)
Note: A One Nation candidate was announced too late for a timely invitation to the forum
Candidate's introductory remarks (video and precis)
- Spoke of her former work as a classroom teacher, and studies in guidance and special education; talked of personal experiences teaching and learning and said education was an holistic process in a changing world.
- Said that a good education was a combination of quality teaching and learning; referred to the Grattan Institute report (“Catching up: learning from the best school systems in East Asia”, 17 February 2012) that acknowledged teaching as a complex profession, and said quality education needed quality candidates entering the profession, plus a meaningful and ongoing build-up of teacher capacity; said there had been a 44% increase in education spending in Australia but Australia was one of the few countries in which education outcomes had gone down, and that high performing nations were not necessarily big education spenders.
- Said Federal Greens policy was to increase education funding, and Queensland Greens policy was to align education funding and support with student need, for example special needs, low SES or Indigineity.
- Spoke of own quality education at local state schools.
- Said the Bligh government had undertaken a leading investment in schools including on teacher wages and school facilities; achievements of the government included the rollout of kindergartens and the introduction of prep; when ALP came into government, Queensland teachers were the nation’s second-lowest paid and were now the second-highest paid.
- Committed to maintaining the independence of the industrial umpire (Queensland Industrial Relations Commission, QIRC).
- Committed to school funding on a needs basis.
- Rejected LNP’s “independent public schools” proposal, particularly single-line budgeting because it would lead to experienced teachers being let go for newer, cheaper teachers, cut teacher-aide hours and have a negative impact on other school support staff such as grounds staff.
- Distributed signed pledge to local teachers.
Questions from the floor:
Q1: As a concerned teacher, parent and grandparent, wanted assurances to maintain existing state school funding model and a rejection of single-line budgeting.
Kate Jones: the independent public school program, on which Queensland LNP policy is based, has failed in Western Australia; single-line budgeting diverted school principals from their key jobs as educators; committed to retaining existing funding model and rejecting single-line budgeting.
Sandra Bayley: a Greens’ principle is student needs-based funding, which should be applied and then evaluated for effectiveness; Greens do not support any cuts in support for facilities or education programs.
Q2: As a public sector worker, wanted assurances that the QIRC would retain its role as the independent industrial relations umpire.
Sandra Bayley: QIRC independence is Greens’ policy.
Kate Jones: every worker deserves the right to an independent industrial umpire, and committed to retaining the QIRC’s independence.
Q3: As a state school teacher, wanted to know how each party would change the teaching workplace.
Kate Jones: the ALP had inherited a poorly funded education system and had since invested heavily, particularly in regional and poorer areas; focus then had moved to early education and now would be on the move of Year 7 into high school; ALP would continue to invest in better facilities including a sports hall and music learning spaces at The Gap State High School.
Sandra Bayley: Greens would not be in position to form government; said any education changes that the Greens would make would be based on close consultation with the teaching profession.
Kate Jones (continued answer): referred to “reform fatigue” especially from the federal agenda such as the Australian curriculum, which she believed should be implemented in a way that uses teachers’ existing skills and does not compromise workplace conditions.
Sandra Bayler (continued answer): supports the Australian curriculum if implementation includes flexibility for teachers to adapt it to local conditions.
Q4: Referring to the number of wealthy private schools in the electorate with which local state schools competed, asked for views on public funding to private schools.
Kate Jones: the ALP was waiting for the final review of the Gonski report but welcomed a national conversation on needs-based funding.
Sandra Bayley: Greens had always drawn attention to the private/public funding debate and wanted to see a fairer system; referred to private schools which enrolled indigenous students and students with special needs and said that those schools may need extra funding; said funding should be based on the needs of the students attending, not on the school itself.
Q5: Campbell Newman and the LNP claim teachers and principals wanted the autonomy of independent public schools: did candidates believe that local state schools agreed?
Sandra Bayley: research showed a drop in school standards when principals’ workload increased as they became managers not educators; raised concerns that the LNP’s policy signalled a move away from education as a core government service.
Kate Jones: no – local schools do not want the LNP policy imposed; contrasted that policy with the ALP’s “Local decisions: stronger school communities” which had been developed with extensive consultation; said some principals may want a degree of autonomy in, for example, keeping on a contract teacher but not one local principal wanted single-line budgeting.
Q6: To Sandra Bayley, who had earlier referred to “an ongoing misuse of education funds” – where were funds being misused and by whom?
Sandra Bayley: if education spending is increasing but standards are dropping, then funding is counter-productive; referred again to Grattan Institute report that highlighted the need for quality teachers; supported mentoring for new teachers and ongoing professional development for all teachers.
Kate Jones: governments could always spend more on education including paying teachers better wages and spending on capital works.
Q7: Referred to the Grattan report and its praise of various Asian education systems, and asked how different social issues in Australia were affecting our education system.
Kate Jones: education should be about developing critical thinking, not just lecture-style teaching; related how a local student had undertaken exchange studies in France and had realised how high quality the education she had received at The Gap State High School was in comparison; said if education funding was directed more to private schools, would see education levels decrease in state schools so wanted more parity in funding from the Gonski review.
Sandra Bayley: praised the high quality of education at The Gap SHS, both recently and over time.
Sandra Bayley (Greens)
Kate Jones (ALP)
Authorised by Graham Moloney, General Secretary,
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