Staggered return to schools cautiously welcomed
The AEU welcomed the announcement that schools would begin a staggered return to face-to-face learning on-site from May 26, providing much-needed certainty for staff, parents and students.
“We’ll do our best to ensure the transition back to normal schooling is equally as successful [as the transition to remote learning],” said AEU Victorian branch president Meredith Peace. “Our first priority throughout the pandemic has been the health and wellbeing of school staff and students.”
Schools building blitz announced
The Victorian government has announced a plan to upgrade old buildings, deliver extra classrooms and build 10 brand new schools as part of an economic stimulus package for the state. Premier Daniel Andrews and Minister for Education James Merlino announced more than $1.18 billion in education infrastructure projects. Together, the school building projects will create space for more than 21,000 extra students in Victoria’s education system and improve disability access in 150 settings. The projects were selected because they could get underway as soon as possible.
Morrison prioritises private schools yet again
The AEU condemned the Morrison government’s failure to provide additional funding to public schools for increased hygiene measures during the COVID-19 pandemic, despite authorising $10 million towards soap and sanitiser for private schools.
“Clearly Mr Morrison’s government has once again prioritised private schools over public schools while telling the community ‘we are all in this together’,” AEU Federal president Correna Haythorpe said. “AEU members have expressed significant concerns about managing social distancing requirements on school grounds. Governments must ensure public schools have the necessary hygiene facilities and cleaning.”
Funding boost for TAFE welcome, with more focus needed on job security
The AEU welcomed the Victorian government’s cash injection of $260.8 million for TAFEs. TAFE is a vital part of the Victorian education system and its teachers deserve job security.
“Our TAFE teachers do an outstanding job and we need to ensure that their employment is secure,” said Meredith Peace. “Through the state government’s free TAFE initiative, TAFE teachers have helped put more nurses into our health system and those nurses have played a crucial role during this health crisis. Once they have graduated, other TAFE students in a range of industry areas will also play a crucial role as we rebuild our economy.”