Year in review in Education

February 16

Teachers joined nurses, electricity workers, fire fighters and community volunteers to doorknock in targeted seats as part of Unions NSW’s state election strategy. Residents signed pledges that they would vote to stop TAFE cuts, oppose the selling of assets and services and the electricity network, and support quality healthcare.

Taxpayer funds contribute to high profits for corporate private training providers, research by from the University of Sydney’s Business School showed. The Capture of Public Wealth by the For-Profit VET Sector report, commissioned by the Australian Education Union, called for policy-makers to consider prohibiting for-profit businesses from gaining public funding.

An equity funding support package, to ensure Gonski dollars are used effectively to improve student outcomes, was jointly development by Federation and the Department.

March 16

Education’s state election special edition outlined Federation’s priorities around Gonski, TAFE, school staffing, salaries, special education and school buildings and facilities. The edition ran articles from the major parties outlining their education policies and the union’s responses to those policies.

Fears that 40 per cent of VET FEE-HELP loans will remain unpaid due to lack of jobs and low wages for vocational education and training (VET) graduates were raised in a Senate Education and Employment References Committee interim report.

The inaugural training workshop for the Performance and Development Framework was held at the Department’s head office, ahead of sessions across the state.

May 4

After a bout of storms and flooding, the union pursued issues arising from wet weather events with the Department, in an effort to support teachers and schools.

Following the state election, Federation declared it would continue to campaign for the Baird Government to place a cap on contestable funding to ensure NSW TAFE remains the superior vocational education and training provider, and for the State Government to press the Federal Coalition to honour the Commonwealth’s commitment to the full six years of the NSW Gonski needs-based schools funding agreement.

Parents of students with disabilities, the Australian Education Union and Children with Disability representatives travelled to Canberra to lobby politicians for the introduction of the Gonski disability loading — promised by the Federal Government, but not delivered.

June 22

Federation called for an end to the Empowering Local Schools ‘experiment’, on the basis there is no evidence devolution improves student outcomes.

Federation raised concerns about the impact of cuts to school cleaners’ hours on the cleanliness and hygiene of schools.

The Abbott Government’s second Budget failed to foreshadow spending to honour the fifth and sixth years of Gonski agreements, signed with some states and territories.

July 27

People with positive experiences with TAFE were asked to share their story with the NSW Upper House inquiry into vocational education and training.

Annual Conference endorsed Federation’s longstanding position to campaign vigorously to defend the statewide staffing system that ensures protection, stability and security for NSW public school students and teachers.

Federation’s Annual Conference passed a motion stating its serious concern about Federal Government policies on immigration detention centres. The decision included that it would continue to inform its members, other unions and the wider community on issues that deny teachers and other professionals the right to speak out against policies that, ‘impinge on civil liberties and human rights, indeed the rule of law itself’.

The State Budget maintained a cap on wage increases for school and TAFE teachers and other public servants, and failed to adequately fund school maintenance and capital works.

September 7

TAFE NSW’s proposed enterprise agreement attacked the working conditions of all teachers and the quality of education and training for all students.

The Australian Education Union rejected the politicisation of the Board of the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) and announced it would no longer cooperate with the politicised Institute.

The combined union campaign against cuts to injured workers’ entitlements resulted in some improved benefits for injured workers and their families.

October 26

New Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was called on to fully implement the Gonski schools funding model.

Negotiations for a new school staffing agreement commenced with the union seeking an agreement that continues the regulated system, which has ensured protection, stability and security for NSW public school students and teachers.

State Superannuation Scheme and State Authorities Superannuation Scheme members learned they might have to wait until April 2016 to be credited with some employer contributions to their State Authorities Non-contributory Superannuation accounts, due since July 1, 2013.

Much of the taxpayer investment in vocational education via the VET FEE-HELP loan scheme is “currently being wasted, or milked for profit”, a Senate Inquiry found.