Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Teachers and principals rally to reclaim their profession

When : 5:30-6:30pm, Wednesday 20 November 2013
Where: Parliament House, George St (near Botanic Gardens)

Hundreds of school teachers and principals will rally outside Parliament House on Wednesday, 20 November, to reclaim their profession from ill-informed political interference.

Queensland Teachers’ Union members from Brisbane and surrounding areas including the Gold and Sunshine Coasts, Ipswich and Caboolture will attend the rally at Parliament House. Others around the state will join in via a live webcast.

Their key concerns include government plans to:

  • impose fixed-term contracts on principals and deputy principals
  • replace the current teacher annual performance review with a “ranking” system against criteria likely to include student standardised test results
  • use the ranking system to decide teacher pay through bonuses
  • abandon class size targets.

QTU President Kevin Bates said the union’s members had recently voted in favour of industrial action if the government attempted to push through its changes without consultation and negotiation with the union that represented 96% of Queensland’s state school classroom teachers, specialist teachers and school leaders.

“These changes not only represent a direct attack on teachers’ and principals’ negotiated working conditions, but also will cause long-term damage to Queensland’s state schooling system,” Mr Bates said.

“The Queensland Government claims that its ‘reforms’ are aimed at improving student outcomes – but in developing its plans, the government has failed to properly consult with the educational professionals who are best placed to advise on achieving real benefits for students.

“Those professionals have certainly tried their hardest to tell the government that funding to overcome educational disadvantage would be one of the best ways to help Queensland students, but their expert opinion has apparently largely been ignored.

“Instead, the government wants to pit teacher against teacher for bonuses based on narrow and, to many teachers such as those working in special education, irrelevant criteria, and it wants to deny school leaders any chance to make a long-term commitment to their school communities.

“Further, the government wants to strip away maximum class size targets in Queensland state schools – any educational practitioner, and simple common sense, would tell the government that any savings made will be far outweighed by the damage done as more and more children are denied the attention they need and slip through the educational cracks.”

Mr Bates said hard-to-staff schools, including many small schools in regional and remote areas, would be most vulnerable to the negative impacts of the government’s plans.

“Why would principals want to take on challenging schools if their job security will depend on data-driven ‘results’ that ignore the complexities they face? Why would teachers want to work in challenging schools, often far from their families, when their pay depends on those same results?” Mr Bates said.

Mr Bates said the government’s denigration of and lack of consultation with the professionals it employed was not limited to education workers, but was also affecting those in the health sector.

“One of the rally speakers will be Queensland Nurses’ Union Assistant Secretary Des Elder, who will talk about the challenges facing members of the QNU and how public sector education and health workers can stand together to reclaim their professions,” Mr Bates said.

Wednesday’s QTU rally is one of a series of rallies taking place during the November sitting of the Queensland Parliament in which union members, as part of the wider Queensland community, are protesting against the LNP government’s removal of working and civil rights.

For comment from QTU President Kevin Bates, call 0418789162.

For information on rally logistics, call QTU Deputy General Secretary Kate Ruttiman on 0419655749.