Education and the 2017 state election
In a welcome result for Queensland state school teachers, principals and students, the Palaszczuk ALP government was re-elected, with a majority in its own right in the 2017 state election.
In the lead-up to the election, the QTU formulated a list of claims for school education and TAFE which was circulated to the political parties for them to make whatever commitments they wished. Responses were received only from the ALP and the LNP. Those responses together with their public announcements formed the basis of the QTU’s policy analysis and recommendations to members, together with a linked analysis on industrial relations issues.
Deputy Premier (and now Treasurer) Jackie Trad responded to the Union’s claims on behalf of the government. The correspondence included:
- a commitment to not sign up to federal funding arrangements until any conditions are clear
- to consider additional teacher release time in the next EB in addition to the new teachers for growth
- improved facilities for TAFE and a commitment to improve TAFE’s market share
- four new centres of professional development and wellbeing
- a $235m renewal program for 17 older schools
- Clean Energy program and passive school design in schools.
The principal policy documents produced by the ALP in this area were:
- A World Class Education
- Quality Teachers in Every Classroom
- Pathways to Training, Skills and Jobs
- Building Better Schools.
There was a significant new commitment in the Deputy Premier’s correspondence to “review teacher workloads to address excessive and unproductive work for teachers.” The commitment is “in the next term” which goes up to the end of October 2020. On the back of the current QTU workload campaign, the QTU will be pushing for the earliest possible implementation of the review. The goal is not a review but the earliest implementation of measures to address the workload of teachers and principals.
The QTU also sought commitments to the implementation of recommendations from the Australian Principal Occupational Health, Safety and Wellbeing Survey 2016. The government is partnering with Headspace and providing funds to principal associations to fund wellbeing initiatives. Other recommendations remain under consideration.
The election has seen the appointment of new ministers: Grace Grace for Education and Industrial Relations; and Shannon Fentiman for Training and Skills Development, and for Employment and Small Business. The QTU prepared a briefing on education and TAFE issues and has had productive meetings with both ministers. We are looking forward to an ongoing positive relationship with both ministers.
Thanks are due to the former ministers, Kate Jones and Yvette D’Ath, for their engagement with the Union and collaborative approach wherever possible. The significant achievements in education and training during the first term of the government are a credit to their work. They are not off the hook. We look forward to their on-going support on issues in this vital area.
From a low point of zero under the Newman government, there are now four teachers and QTU members in the Queensland Parliament.
It is very welcome to have MPs with a practical knowledge of education, teaching and principalship in the Queensland Parliament. The QTU looks forward to working with them, and with all members of the parliament, to achieve the best deal for Queensland state school and TAFE students, teachers and principals.
Graham Moloney General Secretary
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 123 No 1, 9 February 2018, p8
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