Welcome to the 2018 school year. Hopefully you are well rested and have had an enjoyable start to the week, planning for the school year ahead with your colleagues and meeting your students. This year will provide us with even more opportunities to campaign for public education, with a state election scheduled for 24 November and the strong possibility of a federal election too.
We need you as school leaders to be involved and active in our campaigns to ensure public education is the number one issue for voters and politicians.
We must campaign to ensure our schools and students are properly funded, with that funding based on student need. We must also campaign to ensure the right policies and programs are in place, with principals, teachers and support staff able to access the resources they need so each student can reach their full potential. Our campaigning needs to engage parents and the broader school community so these key elements of a high quality public education system are ‘front of mind’ when voters are deciding who to support when they enter polling booths.
You may have seen the ‘School Education Values Statement’ released by Victorian Liberal opposition leader Matthew Guy last week. Among other things, the statement commits a future Liberal/National state government to a review of the Victorian curriculum to ensure 'Australian values' are taught, abandoning the Safe Schools resource, ‘rewards’ for our ‘best teachers’ (aka performance pay), and 'greater school autonomy'.
It's unfortunate that Matthew Guy thinks the only path to getting elected is to confect some kind of values war and rekindle attempts to introduce failed policies of the past which will divide staff and schools. Staff in our schools are among the best in the world, our curriculum is robust and our results speak for themselves. You and your teachers teach values every day. The statement seems to have been prepared without any consultation with principals, teachers and support staff, and bears little resemblance to the kinds of support and policies that members and students need.
On Monday, he announced he would introduce a mandatory phonics test for all Year 1 students. I'm sure you, as school leaders, agree we don’t need more testing in our schools. Principals and teachers need to have their professional judgement respected and be provided with the resources they need to support the learning of all students no matter their needs in the classroom.
Matthew Guy must come clean about his intentions for funding public schools if he is elected – we remember the last Liberal/National government, in which he was a senior minister, where hundreds of millions of dollars were cut from public education between 2010-2014, leaving schools without the resources they need to best support the learning of all students.
We are continuing to pursue your workload issues through the AEU-DET Principal Workload Working Group, with out next meeting scheduled for 9 February. We are hopeful that the department will soon move on some of the issues we raised last year in the negotiations for the VGSA 2017 and through the working party, including greater support for development of school policies and a process to prevent principals from being overwhelmed by requests for action by various parts of the department. The process would be aimed to address the volume of the work and the sequencing of the requests.
The start of the year is busy, but it is a great time to recruit colleagues to the AEU. Please take the opportunity to talk to other principal class officers and encourage them to join the AEU if they are not already a member. We have also asked each sub-branch representative to speak with their principal about ensuring they are provided with the opportunity to be involved in the induction process for new staff, as required by the VGSA 2017. See more detail in the article 'New staff induction and the role of AEU reps' below.
Finally, many AEU sub-branches do outstanding work in supporting members in the workplace. In 2018, we want to acknowledge and celebrate this work through the Sub-Branch of the Year award. To nominate your sub-branch, click here.
Deputy President, AEU Victoria