Why I’ll Stop Work on Tuesday

The New South Wales Teachers Federation has called a stop work meeting for teachers in NSW tomorrow morning and I’ll be attending.

We’re not meeting to protest or make demands. The meeting is part of the industrial process required to agree on a new salaries award for teachers. Minimal supervision has been authorised in schools so that they remain open and parents do not have to make arrangements for their children. The action is not endorsed by the Department of Education and Communities, and our pay will be docked accordingly.

The new award proposal contains many significant changes including standards based salary progression and a new salary level for teachers accredited at the Highly Accomplished level. It also includes changes to the Teacher Efficiency Process which is the process used to manage underperforming teachers – either resulting in improved performance, or in dismissal.

Of  concern to many teachers is the proposed reclassification of principals (page 5 of this document). Principal positions in small schools could be reclassified to ‘Associate Principals’ which would mean instead of working independently, the principal of a nearby larger school would take over many of the administration and management roles. The award also allows for the amalgamation of small schools with larger schools without the need for community consultation. Many teachers and principals working in smaller schools and regional areas fear that this could spell the end for small schools.

The award is complex, with many long term ramifications not just for teacher salaries and career paths, but also for the future provision of public education.

This meeting will allow New South Wales Teachers Federation members to find out the details and implications of the award proposal, debate and vote on whether or not to accept it. It’s part of the democratic process which underpins the running of the union and one which I value.

As someone who cares about and advocates for the public education system, I believe it is important to understand and engage with these issues, and to contribute to the voting process that will help determine its future.  My working conditions and student learning conditions are going to be decided upon tomorrow. I don’t want to let others make those choices for me, which is why I’ll be attending. I want to have a say in the decisions that determine my not only my professional future but also the future of public education in NSW.

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