QTU Professional Issues Conference 2017

The theme of the 2017 QTU Professional Issues conference was Anticipate, Educate, Activate, and Celebrate.

Through a range of keynote speakers, delegates were encouraged to anticipate the education reforms that lie ahead, and to educate themselves on how best to confront those reforms, while cultivating their QTU activism to engage in Union campaigns addressing those challenges.

Sam Pidgeon, QTU Vice-President, opened the conference with an outline of the challenges that members have already faced, including the unrealistic deadlines for the implementation of the Australian Curriculum, which members banned until more realistic and achievable timelines prevailed. Council has already determined that it will ban the introduction of a year one literacy test if the federal government ties it to school funding.

Dr Glenn Savage, Senior Lecturer in Public Policy and Education at the University of Western Australia, spoke of the national education reforms that have faced teachers across the nation in the past decade, including the litany of high-stakes tests such as NAPLAN and PISA, and the introduction of the My School website which allows the media to create league tables and consequently place constant pressure on educators to improve student results. Dr Greg Thompson explained the absurdity of comparing results from country to country with the PISA test, including the promotion of the results of Shanghai (not a country!), where students are extensively tutored to achieve outstanding results.

Dr Mary Lincoln, the Director of Early Learning Pathways in DET, gave us the background to the age appropriate pedagogies project and Jane Newman, deputy principal at Nundah State School, spoke of her role in implementing the program in the Darling Downs South West region.

In the panel, Sam Pidgeon gave us the background to the creation of the highly accomplished (HAT) and lead teacher (LT) classification. John Ryan of the Queensland College of Teachers described the college’s role in the pilot, in which assessors are being trained to assess portfolios, moderating between and across assessors, as well as within departments and interstate, to ensure that applicants’ portfolios are nationally consistent with the AITSL certification guide. Leigh Pickering, the ADG of Human Resources, detailed the department’s commitment to the pilot and the support offered, including the establishment of a dedicated team, hotline, web page and professional development for pilot participants.

Jacqui Wilton and Claude Jones from the Queensland Curiculum and Assessment Authority outlined the timelines for the introduction of the new senior assessment and tertiary entrance (SATE) system, which will be known as the new Queensland Certificate of Education. Jacqui advised that work is progressing in terms of delivery of extensive professional development around the new syllabuses for teachers of senior classes to use from 2019, while Claude gave participants an idea of the timing of endorsement of assessment, the external exam block in 2020, and signalled a proposal to move the moderation day in October back to term three.

Dr Jim Watterston, Director-General DET, gave a commitment to tell the true story about what is happening in schools – he participates in a regular Q&A session on ABC radio each week to take questions from parents and the general public. He is very proud of the work of Queensland teachers in improving NAPLAN results, although he was concerned by reports of too many practice tests taking place in some schools.

Deputy General Secretary Kate Ruttiman outlined the QTU’s plan for a workload and wellbeing strategy, in particular the Workload and Wellbeing Awareness Month (WWAM), which will be held during November.

Leah Mertens,
Research Officer - Professional Issues

Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 122 No 7, 6 October 2017, p15