Sunday, 28 April 2013

More questions than answers on discipline

The Queensland Teachers’ Union has questioned the logistics and value of the Queensland Government’s announcement today of major changes to school behaviour management.

QTU President Kevin Bates said the plan to expand school detention into family time, including unlimited detention after school and on weekends, was fraught with problems, did nothing to address the causes of poor behaviour, and apparently had no funding attached.

“The scheme is apparently voluntary, but it is difficult to see how any Queensland state school could fund such a program from their existing budgets,” Mr Bates said.

“The Education Minister will no doubt be disappointed that the QTU questions his latest announcement, but that reaction is inevitable while government policies continue to be announced with no consultation with our members – the 44,000 teachers and principals who actually operate our schools.

“Disruptive student behaviour is certainly a problem, but education professionals are seeking government support to address the many causes behind this behaviour to achieve long-term effectiveness.

“This would include broad curriculum offerings, including VET, to keep students engaged; more literacy and numeracy specialist support in all year levels to help students who are struggling; smaller class sizes to allow more individual attention; and more funding for specialist staff including guidance officers to work with students who are having problems at school or at home.

“Instead of that extra support, we saw in the last State Budget a shortfall in staffing funding across the board, which has left schools with fewer resources to address the problems that are increasingly being seen in society, and so are increasingly seen in schools.

Mr Bates said the Queensland Government continued to reject the Gonski review recommendations which would provide vital extra funding from both the state and federal governments to help students overcome educational disadvantage.

With few details available other than those provided by media coverage, the QTU questions how the scheme would work in practical terms, particularly since there appeared to be no funding provided for such a major change in school operations.

Mr Bates said the scheme raised more questions than answers.

“How will teachers and principals be paid from existing tight budgets? How will they manage community service programs? If students are given weekend detention, who will work with their families to ensure they turn up, particularly when the detention clashes with other family commitments? What programs will be offered during this detention that will be more effective than writing out lines? How would such a scheme work in regional areas, where students often live significant distances from their school and rely on bus transport?”

Mr Bates said the one positive aspect of today’s announcement was the commitment by the Queensland Government to providing more positive learning centres, which was a long-held QTU policy position - but the QTU would need to see that commitment become a reality in the State Budget due to be announced in June.

For further comment by QTU President Kevin Bates, call 0418 789 162. Mr Bates will be available for to-camera interview at 1:30pm, QTU Milton office, 21 Graham St, Milton