Educators need vaccines
As the latest Victorian lockdown again forced schools and TAFEs to switch to remote learning, the AEU has repeated its calls for the federal government to prioritise the vaccination of education staff. The union has encouraged all workplaces to operate in line with public health advice throughout the pandemic, and urged staff in all education settings to get a COVID-19 vaccination as soon as they are eligible. The AEU now wants the eligibility of priority groups broadened to include education staff, or risk ongoing disruptions.
Federal budget prioritises private
Independent schools are set to receive an extra $1.7 billion in federal grants next financial year as their funding grows at twice the rate as that of public schools. Despite the fact that the public school system is the fastest-growing schools sector, the Morrison government continues to prioritise the private sector, with public schools now facing a $19bn funding shortfall over the next four years.
While four-year-old preschool funding has been secured for four years, TAFE continues to suffer from the Morrison government’s inability to recognise that TAFE is best placed to provide the quality vocational education Australia needs. See budget story on page 9.
Time for NAPLAN to go
The AEU is continuing to campaign against NAPLAN testing, which has ceased to be effective or fit for purpose. Union surveys show the majority of principals and teachers do not believe NAPLAN is an effective measure of students’ learning outcomes or correctly identifies what teachers should focus on to improve student performance. Neither does NAPLAN give parents an accurate assessment of their child’s achievements or utilise a teacher’s informed judgement. What NAPLAN does is increase student anxiety, cut into precious teaching time and add to workload stress, only made worse by technical and access issues with online testing.
Calls for public inquiry into Porter allegations
When federal attorney-general Christian Porter announced in March this year that he was the person named in allegations against a male offender who allegedly raped 16-year-old ‘Kate’ in 1988, he strenuously denied the accusations and launched a defamation claim against the ABC and reporter Louise Milligan. Porter, who now holds the industry portfolio, lost his position as attorney-general and minister for industrial relations. At the end of May, Porter discontinued his defamation claim against the ABC and Milligan, presumably aware of how increasingly risky it would be for him to attempt to defend it. There are now renewed calls in Canberra for a public inquiry into the allegations.