Federation met with Officers of BOSTES on October 25 to discuss the implications of the establishment of the NSW Education Standards Authority in relation to public education and teaching in NSW.
Legislation establishing the Authority was passed on October 11 and followed the recommendations arising from the Review of BOSTES.
The Authority will be governed by a 12-member board. Importantly, one of the core members of the Board will be a representative of Federation; the other core members will include representatives from the Department of Education, the Catholic Education Commission, the Association of Independent Schools, the Independent Education Union and an Aboriginal Representative. Six other members will be appointed by the Minister of Education.
The work of the Authority will be directed by a charter developed by the board. The Authority will have significant powers in terms of ensuring compliance and relating to a number of matters associated with teaching and learning across school systems and within individual schools. This will include the power:
- to approve teacher education courses and teacher accreditation courses
- to suspend or revoke a teacher’s accreditation
- for inspectors to consider whether schools are not only delivering the relevant curriculum requirements but whether an individual school is providing a quality teaching and learning environment. These inspections can be conducted without advance notice for schools and systems (both public and private) in areas identified by the government as priorities, e.g. literacy and numeracy.
At the meeting, Federation pointed out that unannounced inspections or audits are likely to be highly disruptive to schools and student learning and would not advance the quality of teaching or learning.
Federation noted that the Minister’s second reading speech indicated that “the Authority will, of course, have suitable rules in place to guide inspectors on the proper use of this power”. BOSTES officers agreed there would be consultation on the development of rules and guidelines.
Federation has supported initiatives underpinning Great Teaching Inspired Learning that reinforce quality teaching and improved learning outcomes by focusing on collaboration, collegiality and teacher professionalism rather than compliance.
Federation believes the Authority must focus on supporting teachers as professionals, and back the collaborative and collegial work of teachers within schools and across the system. The legislated objectives of the Authority include providing strategic leadership in improving standards of education using an evidence-based approach and monitoring legal requirements related to student learning. This will only be achieved by working closely with teachers, acknowledging their expertise and experience.
The Quality Teaching Council will be abolished and replaced with a smaller Quality Teaching Committee to which the board of the new Authority will delegate a range of powers. Four other regulatory committees will deal with curriculum, assessment, school registration and initial teacher education. Federation will pursue the need for teachers to be represented on these committees.
In his second reading speech, the Minister, Adrian Piccoli, stated that the new Authority would change the way it engages with the Australian Curriculum, indicating “the Authority will maintain a consultative approach in relation to syllabus development and will also focus on streamlining implementation”.
Federation stressed the importance of the current consultative processes adopted by BOSTES in engaging NSW Teachers directly in syllabus development and ensuring sufficient time for genuine consultation as well as allowing a year for familiarisation, planning and preparation prior to implementing any new syllabuses.
The board officers agreed there would be further meetings to discuss the issues raised by Federation regarding the work of the Authority and the exercise of its powers.
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