Year in review

Issue No.1, March

  • The green Gonski Buses hit roads in the lead-up to the scheduled COAG meeting in April (later moved to June) to raise awareness of success stories and urge MPs to support the full package.
  • Federation negotiated a resolution over the use of extra standardised testing as part of the Department’s Bump It Up program for 137 schools to improve NAPLAN performance. The Department confirmed the testing was optional.
  • Teachers were finally able to get a salary that recognises their service, after hundreds were left underpaid when the Department unilaterally introduced a new procedure.
  • A documentary film was commissioned to honour the contribution by members over decades of struggle for justice and equality for Aboriginal people. It will feature as part of Federation centenary celebrations.

Issue No.2, April

  • March Council endorsed a NAPLAN campaign, to be put to Annual Conference, that would examine issues including teaching from, and to, the test, and ensuring standardised assessments for Bump It Up are optional.
  • Sydney University was commissioned to carry out an independent study into teachers’ workload, its volume and intensity and whether it detracted from teaching and learning.
  • Federation took a dispute to the IRC to expose Corrective Service NSW strategy of re-badging qualified teachers as clerks to perform the same work and strip them from the award.
  • During the Gonski Bus tour, Barnaby Joyce complained of “a green bus following me around”, saying “their solution is more money equals panacea” after NSW Nationals MP Adam Marshall threw his support behind full funding.
  • As school children marked annual Harmony Day, the Turnbull Government decided to introduce changes to the Racial Discrimination Act Section 18C.

Issue No.3, May

  • In a deceitful and cynical ploy, Malcolm Turnbull and Minister Simon Birmingham announced “Gonski 2.0”, a plan that will cut $846 million, compared with the original funding reforms, from NSW schools in 2018 and 2019.
  • The Federal Budget cut spending on vocation education by almost 10 per cent with further cuts to follow in the forward estimates.
  • Federation told a parliamentary committee that graphic evidence of need in schools serving students with disability meant the Federal Government’s implementation of the full Gonski reforms would yield the improvements required.

Issue No.4, June

  • In May, at a media conference at NSW Parliament, an uncommon alliance of the Coalition, Labor and Greens joined to push for the full Gonski funding under threat from the Turnbull Government’s revised 2.0 model.
  • A new award agreement gave HSC markers a 2.5 per cent pay increase in 2018 and a further 2.5 per cent in 2019.
  • The Department clarified a number of concerns regarding NESA inspections and that random inspections would not require schools to make exhaustive preparations.
  • Members told Federation that under the new model of education in NSW correctional centres, gaol education was increasingly geared to satisfying the needs of gaol industries ahead of rehabilitation and improving employment prospects.

Issue No.5, August

  • Annual Conference endorsed a campaign to replace the NAPLAN approach to assessment after Federation published Crossroads: A Green Paper on Assessment Policy, which detailed its shortcomings.
  • General Secretary John Dixon also told Conference that the Sydney housing market crisis had meant essential workers such as teachers have been pushed out when, in fact, they qualified for affordable housing.
  • The schools funding package passed by Federal Parliament in June meant billions of dollars due from 2018 would not be delivered and the model was no longer a sector-blind, needs-based structure.
  • Federation resolved to escalate the Stop TAFE Cuts campaign to Gonski levels after Conference was told funding to the VET sector had halved in the past 20 years.

Issue No.6, September

  • Responses gathered from Federation’s NAPLAN Hotline reveal teachers and principals indicate the NSW public education system is far from being ready to offer NAPLAN Online testing.
  • Union action stopped the Department’s attempt to remove positions established to support students with low-SES backgrounds from school staffing entitlements.
  • Federation announced a statewide survey, slated for Term 1 2018, of teachers, executives and principals on their workload.
  • Feminist writer Van Badham told Women’s Conference that teacher union actions and strikes down the years had taught her the value of collective power.

Issue No.7, November

  • Federation secured thousands of permanent positions for casual and temporary teachers filling permanent vacancies when the IRC endorsed a settlement of a dispute, lodged by the Federation.
  • A national conference in October was told TAFE should be elevated within the tertiary sector for the economic and public good.
  • Federation won back ground on the original ONE TAFE modernisation and will not support any loss of head teacher positions or equity support.
  • A promise from the Education Minister underlined the success of a grassroots campaign where member teachers and the school community presented a united front.