In this edition: To NAPLAN or not? | AEU Federal Conference | Supervising a pre-service teacher? | QTU State Council | Principal defamation case | Appeal in WorkCover case | Union Reps Conference | Survey results in | QTU – The original and best
QTU Members' newsflash No. 03-20, 02 March 2020 |DOWNLOAD PDF
Council to consider member ballot
On Saturday, the QTU State Council will consider an Executive recommendation to conduct a ballot of members on boycotting NAPLAN (not just NAPLAN Online) in 2020.
In June last year, QTU Conference – 250 elected teachers and principals from around the state –decided to conduct a ballot if by the start of 2020 reviews of NAPLAN had not recommended its abolition. In November, the State Council (about 120 elected delegates) deferred a decision to proceed with the ballot until the new year, to allow the situation to be assessed.
At a meeting on 23 February, QTU Executive unanimously voted to recommend to Council that the ballot to boycott NAPLAN proceed.
This advice is being provided now to enable branch meetings to discuss the issue in the lead-up to Council and provide views to the elected teachers and principals who make up the Council before they make their decision on Saturday.
If Council supports conducting the ballot, it will occur immediately.
Why ballot and boycott?
Nationally, Queensland teachers and the Queensland Government have led the way in seeking to review and then abolish NAPLAN. When it comes to addressing NAPLAN’s problems, the alternatives to a boycott have been all but exhausted.
- The QTU and the department negotiated a joint statement to outlaw unsatisfactory practices associated with NAPLAN, such as excessive practice tests and reliance on NAPLAN test results for promotion.
- The QTU successfully balloted members to ban NAPLAN Online where schools weren’t ready or able to participate.
- The Queensland Government delayed the planned transition to NAPLAN Online until 2021, when still unsolved problems emerged.
- The Queensland Government, supported by the QTU, conducted a state review of NAPLAN that documented and confirmed the problems identified by teachers and principals.
- Independently of the national Education Council, the Queensland Government then established a tri-state review of NAPLAN with NSW and Victoria (later joined by the ACT).
In spite of all these steps, substantive problems remain, and the review currently being conducted is unlikely to realise the objectives of Queensland teachers and principals.
The tri-state review won’t do it
The tri-state review is scheduled to provide a final report in June. Its interim report in November 2019 offered preliminary thoughts about changes, including: changing the timing; changing the content; lowering the exposure of results on MySchool; and making it a sample test with an opt-in. Its terms of reference, negotiated between the states, presume the continuation of standardised testing and its “improvement”. The review won’t recommend abolishing NAPLAN.
Changes to the National Assessment Plan – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) would require the unanimous agreement of the national Education Council – all the states and territories AND the federal Liberal/National government.
At the start of the tri-state review, Federal Minister, Dan Tehan stated his opposition to the review taking place at all, and certainly showed no willingness to consider any outcomes that may emerge. And NSW is now proposing changes at a state level that call into question its support for the outcomes of the review.
Based on this assessment, the QTU Executive believes that it is time to implement the Conference decision to ballot and boycott NAPLAN.
More information will be provided with the ballot materials.
Queensland teachers and principals were successful in boosting the issue of workload reduction on the national campaigning agenda at the recent AEU national conference.
The Australian Education Union (AEU) is the union representing school teachers and principals in state education and TAFE teachers at a national level. QTU members are also members of the AEU.
The AEU annual conference was held in Melbourne on 21-23 February. Twenty-four delegates and observers from Queensland joined around 120 other Australian educators, as well as international guests, for this key decision-making forum.
Broader national campaigning
National campaigning for the past decade has been dominated by campaigns around federal funding of education (I Give a Gonski! and Fair Funding Now!). The QTU proposed and gained support for a broader agenda that included workload reduction, the professional autonomy of teachers and school leaders, opposition to the contents of national agreements adding to workload and the elimination of occupational violence as national campaigning objectives, not just Queensland objectives.
This is vital in an environment where more of the decisions that affect work in schools are being made at a national level, normally without any proper consultation with the teaching profession.
The AEU Conference was very clear about NAPLAN. President Correna Haythorpe’s opening address and the Conference statement both declared “NAPLAN must go!” This policy was unanimously endorsed by teacher and principal delegates from around the nation. It is likely that Queensland will be the first to put it into practice.
The value of national cooperation between state and territory unions was seen in a panel on the last day talking about the revaluation of teacher and principal work in NSW, action on eliminating occupational violence in the ACT, a critique of proposed learning progressions from WA and the challenge of re-building TAFE.
The Conference was addressed by Anthony Albanese and Tanya Plibersek from the ALP and Adam Bandt from the Greens. Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan declined an invitation to address Conference, leaving Christopher Pyne as the last Coalition politician to address Conference, in spite annual invitations.
Domestic and family violence
Queensland delegates also moved a resolution, universally supported, expressing support for families, teachers and students affected by domestic and family violence, and calling for restoration of federal funding cuts and prioritisation of respectful relationships within the school curriculum.
A detailed report will be published when it is finalised.
The QTU fought hard to secure an increased daily rate for teachers who supervise pre-service teachers while they are on their pracs. All major Queensland based universities have agreed to pay teachers $30/day in 2020, and $34/day in 2021, through their industrial association the AHEIA.
If you receive any paperwork from a university suggesting a lower sum, please forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org so we can address it urgently.
Teachers should not provide supervision to pre-service teachers for payment of less than $30/day.
The QTU State Council meets in Brisbane on Saturday, 7 March for the first of four meetings this year.
The Council is made up of one elected teacher or principal from every branch, one from each Area Council and three from TAFE. Together with the six elected Senior Officers of the Union, there are about 120 people making decisions about the Union’s next steps.
This is the last meeting of the three-year term of the Council, and elections have been conducted by the Electoral Commission where ballots have been required.
The reconstituted Council will gather for the first meeting of a new three-year term in May, when it will elect a new Executive and new standing committees for a new three-year term.
For more information about QTU democratic processes, see this summary on the QTU website.
In other news:
The QTU is analysing and obtaining legal advice about the implications of the decision in a defamation case run by a Queensland secondary school principal against parents, to identify matters that can be addressed through policy and legislative changes. The QTU was not directly involved in the defamation case but has provided legal and other assistance around related matters.
The QTU, together with the IEU (Q&NT), is supporting an appeal against an Industrial Court decision that refused WorkCover to a private school teacher injured on a school excursion overseas. The outcome of the case will affect members across both public and private sectors.
Nearly 400 Union Reps will gather in Brisbane on Friday for the annual Union Reps Conference.
The agenda covers legal issues, the workload campaign, QTU priorities for 2020, NAPLAN and more. A regional Union Reps Conference will be held in Townsville in August.
The research report on a survey of new educators and casual and temporary teachers that the QTU conducted in November last year has been received. QTU priorities for 2020 include the development of specific strategies to better address the needs of new educators and temporary teachers within the QTU.
A new strategy to replace the Principal Support and Involvement Strategy adopted in 2017 is also underway.
We’ve had feedback from members who have attended presentations by the pretend union trying to represent Queensland state school teachers and principals, or who have come across it on Facebook.
The Teachers Professional Association of Queensland (TPAQ) thinks:
- registration by the QIRC means that the government appoints union officials, rather than them being elected by the members of an independent organisation
- a lawyer is a lawyer, and speciality is irrelevant when it comes to legal issues
- a democratic approach will block all development
- it will support individual EB negotiations (we call them contracts!)
- it is entitled to all the same rights as a union, without any of the responsibilities of registration or doing whole segments of Union work.
It’s representatives won’t specify the name of the organisation behind the business name (and that is all TPAQ is).
They won’t tell people how or when they could become part of the committee of management. They don’t provide detail about legal assistance.
So here are the top ten reasons why the QTU is the original and best statewide representative of state school teachers and principals:
- It’s registered – able to negotiate agreements and visit schools.
- Unsurpassed legal assistance with specialist lawyers.
- It’s able to address big issues as well as individual issues.
- It’s democratic
- It covers professional AND industrial issues
- It has 130 years of organisational experience
- It provides superior communications about issues that affect members
- It has a wide regional presence
- It offers a national voice through the AEU
- It can collaborate on state laws through the Queensland Council of Unions.
Number 11 is that we know what we are talking about.
Authorised by Kate Ruttiman, General Secretary, Queensland Teachers' Union
21 Graham Street, Milton, QLD, Australia, 4064