From the President: Celebrating success

With the final weeks of the 2016 school year upon us, it is traditional for this column to reflect on the year that has been and look forward to the year to come.

In the schools sector, curriculum, workload, school funding and an election once again dominated our activities. The achievement of a new enterprise bargaining agreement that features: general pay rises from 1 July 2016 (and 2017 and 2018 thereafter), major improvements in the salary of beginning teachers, provisions to support schools, enhance consultation and ring-fence workload, a new salary horizon of $101,000 for experienced senior teachers, the creation of highly accomplished teacher and lead teacher classifications and the establishment of a major review of the salary classifications of promotional positions, represent a significant outcome for the teaching profession.

Curriculum issues, at the forefront of teacher advocacy for the past several years, were finally recognised by the state government through the commitment to unclutter the curriculum and redesign C2C materials to let teachers exercise more of their professional judgement in what to teach. In the secondary arena, the much anticipated changes to secondary school assessment and reporting and tertiary entrance procedures got underway, but as might be expected with the largest change to senior secondary in 20 years, have been deferred for a further 12 months to ensure that the transition is good for students and teachers, is supported by appropriate professional development and underpinned by well-developed syllabus documents.

On the national stage, education was a primary issue in the federal election. While the ongoing campaign to achieve a genuine sector-blind, needs-based school funding model as proposed by Gonski is addressed elsewhere in this Journal (see article on page 13), the election outcome presents potential for our goals to be achieved in spite of a Coalition government being formed.

After the sustained attacks on TAFE over recent years, we have secured some minor victories. A three-year campaign to achieve a new enterprise agreement for TAFE Queensland has been all but successfully concluded, with salary increases above government wages policy, preservation of all working conditions and a separate agreement for TAFE educational staff in the offing, subject to member and employer ballots and certification of the final agreement (see page 17). Negotiations for a new agreement for TAFE teachers at Central Queensland University are now also under way.

In the funding space, the federal government has finally begun to realise the disastrous consequences of its VET FEE-HELP program and has moved to legislate changes to prevent for-profit providers from harvesting obscene profits from the public purse. This must now be partnered with a commitment to direct 70 per cent of public money for vocational education and training to TAFE, so that students can be guaranteed quality training by a sustainable system.

2017 offers many opportunities to build on our success. Agreements contain the potential for much good to be done, but this can only be realised through the implementation of the intentions agreed. Real change in curriculum, proper implementation processes for senior secondary, steps down the path to new salary classifications, and bolstering TAFE are all on our wish list for the new school year.

One thing is for certain. None of what we have achieved as a professional and industrial organisation would have been possible without the strength of membership behind us. Each and every one of us has an obligation to support the work of the QTU by sharing responsibility for recruitment of new members and taking action in campaigns. Anything you can do when called upon, no matter how minor that may seem to you, adds to the collective power of our membership and contributes to the outcomes that benefit all.
Thanks for everything you have done and best wishes for the festive season.

Kevin Bates                                                                                                                   President

Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 121 No 8, 11 November 2016, p7