After five years of the Andrews government, Principal Class Association members are now very familiar with its approach to managing the much-vaunted ‘Education State’. Every few months, the Premier or Deputy Premier will be seen all over the media with their sleeves rolled up, announcing a new measure to tackle underperformance, disadvantage or even classroom distractions such as mobile phones.
Over recent months we have seen yet more interventions at a policy and system level, including a new ‘maintenance blitz’, an ambitious cash incentive program to attract teachers to hard to staff schools, and an attempt to provide access to extension programs for up to 100,000 ‘high ability’ students.
While PCA members have generally welcomed these system level policies, some remain concerned about how these initiatives are implemented locally. Some are also concerned that many of these interventions are being driven by not particularly reliable NAPLAN and attendance data.
In regards to local interventions, PCA members have continued to provide AEU leadership with examples of how this new (and sometimes surprising) work impacts on principal, teacher and ES staff workload. Several of the Principal Class DWGs have also taken time to discuss the health and safety implications of some of these ‘top down’ initiatives; including the changes to the expulsion guidelines in 2018 and the bans on mobile phones that will come into effect in January 2019.
In relation to NAPLAN, PCA members report that they are exhausted by the myriad of ways that NAPLAN now impacts on their school plans. It isn’t just that their SSP, AIP and PD plans must be full of NAPLAN measures, it is also the fact that their leading teachers, learning specialists, SEILs, AEDs and RDs also have performance plans that are also based on NAPLAN data – and there is no guarantee everyone’s plans will include the same goals! PCA members can feel ‘stuck in the middle’ in this equation.
From early next year, the AEU will begin collecting member contributions to the log of claims process. Understandably, workload will feature prominently in these discussions and I encourage all PCA members to participate in any way that they can.