AEU Conference: research update
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 128 No 3, 5 May 2023, page no. 12
Every year, the AEU Federal Conference provides delegates with the opportunity to hear about the latest research from leading academics from across Australia.
This year, the conference heard from the following keynote speakers:
- Adam Rorris (education economist)
- Barbara Preston (researcher in education policy)
- Nareen Young (Associate Dean – University of Technology Sydney.
Economics of education – Adam Rorris
Ten years of lies and magic tricks in funding has given us a $6.6 billion funding shortfall in the state sector, while the private sector is over-funded by more than $700 million.
Queensland needs an increase of $1.7 billion if all schools are to reach 100 per cent of the schooling resource standard. To secure this, we need to change the rules and ensure that a new National Partnership for Schools is agreed. The 20 per cent federal government funding cap must be removed, the accounting tricks states use to make their funding commitments appear higher must go, and the Commonwealth must commit to short and long-term facility improvement for state schools. Finally, politicians and the public need to be re-educated on the importance and power that large systems can have in the community. State education systems need to be rebuilt so they are once again capable of leading, innovating, and inspiring teachers and students.
Education policy research – Barbara Preston
Barbara Preston is undertaking research relating to the characteristics of state school students and teachers, to be completed in 2023.
The student research focuses on the history and evidence of the residualisation of state schooling. Barbara’s teacher research is examining the private sector’s labour market advantage, as demonstrated by the age profiles of state and private school teachers. The age profiles show evidence of high demand for new teachers, while supply stagnates. The research will also look at income, public or private employment, family income, work hours, dependants and caring responsibilities, housing tenure and mortgage and/or rent affordability.
The conference heard of the lived experience of state school teachers who have been lured to the private sector after their first few years in the profession, affecting teacher supply and demand. Separation from the profession (other work and leave) and reductions to teaching fractions were also highlighted as factors that are influencing a high demand for teachers across the country.
A comparative analysis of the 2021 census data detailing the characteristics of teachers, as well as those with teaching qualifications who are not teaching, is forthcoming.
Jumbunna Institute Report – Nareen Young and Josh Gilbert
The Jumbunna Institute Report was commissioned by the AEU to consider engagement and involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members and employees in both education and the Union. Issues highlighted included: the cultural load placed on employees, understanding the needs of employees, and working collaboratively to address these issues.
The report gave some insights into why some of our First Nations members are reticent to formally identify their status, including a feeling that the workplace does not always provide a safe space that supports First Nations people to identify. It also highlights the need to develop pathways to leadership for First Nations educators, and appropriate industrial frameworks to support and progress the pay and conditions of First Nations members.
The report makes 10 recommendations including:
- giving new teachers access to a First Nations mentor, who would assist them in increasing their awareness of the needs of First Nations students – these mentors should be paid to reflect the high value of the work that they do.
- reviewing and redesigning racism complaints procedures to ensure that they call out racism against First Nations employees
- regular testing and evaluation of the effectiveness of racism complaint procedures
- anti-discrimination training for all staff
- building anti-racism clauses into industrial instruments
- career paths, and professional development and support for First Nations employees accessing them.
It was the view of the institute that adopting the recommendations would deliver high-end initiatives linked to better wellbeing and retention of First Nations staff.