The IEU welcomes the federal Labor government’s budget commitment to fund an additional 4,000 university places for education students. This $159 million dollar commitment is a long-term investment in quality teaching and quality learning.
The government’s teacher education plan follows earlier announcements to improve access to childcare and increase paid parental leave to 26 weeks – important changes that will benefit tens of thousands of IEU members and their families.
The specific allocation of 1469 new university places for early childhood education recognises the importance of early learning and the staffing challenges being experienced across the sector.
We need to attract and support future teachers and ensure access to world class tertiary education. These reforms are long overdue, and we commend the government for taking the opportunity in their first budget to try and alleviate some of the current staffing pressures.
However, we know this government response is only half the story.
We also need immediate action to better support existing teachers who are leaving the profession in record numbers. Teacher burnout is the leading reason why experienced and dedicated teachers are turning away from their classrooms.
Strategies to attract and train more new teachers are quickly undermined if they continue to be subjected to unsustainable workloads as soon as they set foot inside a school.
The federal government must compliment their important budget commitments with this next phase in responding to the teacher staffing crisis:
The government’s Teacher Workforce Action Plan currently being developed must include clear school level outcomes and employer commitments to help tackle workload.
- The government and employer obsession with data and the relentless cycle of compliance red tape must be reviewed and streamlined. School staff are drowning in paperwork.
- The Fair Work Act must restore secure jobs as the standard in all schools and break the cycle of rolling fixed-term contracts that undermine job security across education.
- Bargaining laws need to be modernised to provide a simple, fair and accessible system for education employees seeking to negotiate improved wages and working conditions.
The government has made a good start, work must continue with teachers and their unions to now deliver on the full range of reforms needed for Australia’s education system.