From the President: Education a paramount priority for any state government

Whichever major party or coalition of parties formed government following the state election at the end of January, they must face up to the challenge of delivering a better deal for public education and the education professionals in schools and TAFE who make the system work.

Within a few months of being elected, the new government will have to deliver a state budget. More than 50 per cent of the Queensland state budget is traditionally made up of funding for education and health, the two major responsibilities of the states in our federation.

The time for passing the buck is over. It is not acceptable to argue that the economic imperatives or policies of previous governments prevent commitment to the fundamental principles of appropriate funding for the education of every child. The cost to the community, the economy and to individual students is now at an unacceptable level and must be remedied. The eminent Australians who made up the Gonski Review panel found this to be so and their findings have never been rebutted in any meaningful way.
What then must a new Queensland Government do to redress the shortcomings and restore education to the priority it deserves to be?

In the first instance, the new government must be a fierce and unflinching advocate for a better deal for schools from the federal government, as Canberra holds the purse strings in terms of capacity to raise revenue. In support of this, the new government must commit the state’s resources to deliver the funding levels required to establish the minimum resource levels determined by the Gonski Review, regardless of the commitment of funding from the federal government. Other states, particularly New South Wales, have made just such a commitment and delivered on it. Why not Queensland?

Increased funding must be used to address the following prorities within the education system: reduce class sizes; increase teacher release (non-contact time); provide support for beginning teachers; introduce professional pay classifications to provide a viable career structure for classroom teachers and school leaders; improve resourcing of schools, particularly for students with a disability; and improve pay to increase the status of the profession.

TAFE education staffing must be returned to levels that allow the system to deliver a wide range of high-quality programs and courses, and plans to make all VET funding fully contestable must be abandoned.
Ultimately, the future success of our community rests in the balance. Positive moves to address these priorities in education have the potential to deliver life-changing benefits to students, teachers and school leaders and will result in dramatic economic benefits for the state and the nation as a whole.

Farewell and welcome

The beginning of the 2015 school year sees a change in the leadership of the Queensland Teachers’ Union. After nine years as the QTU Vice-President, Julie Brown (pictured) has retired from her position and is replaced by Samantha Pidgeon.

Sam was the QTU Honorary Vice-President for the past three years and is substantively a head of department at Runcorn State High School. The new QTU Honorary Vice-President is Jenny Swadling. Jenny is the principal of the Charleville School of Distance Education and has worked in country Queensland for the past two decades. On behalf of all QTU members, we wish Julie all the best for the future and welcome Sam and Jenny to their new roles in the presidential leadership team.

Kevin Bates

Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 120 No 1, 6 February 2015, p7