Commissioner revises teacher EBA offer

Commissioner for Public Employment, Ken Simpson, today revised his offer for an agreement covering Northern Territory Public Sector (NTPS) teachers and educators.

 

Mr Simpson said, “I have taken the Australian Education Union at their public word that the current industrial action is not as a result of the offer, but in response to changes in staffing which is a matter for Government policy.”

 

In respect to resources in schools the enterprise agreement provides safeguards for maximum class sizes and matters concerning staffing levels can be considered under the ‘management of change’ provisions that are also in the agreement.

 

“Teachers and educators’ pay rises should not be delayed any longer and therefore I have decided to give the union an opportunity to secure a pay increase for teachers from 21 November.  The debate about teacher staffing numbers should not hold up the agreement,” said Mr Simpson.

 

The 3% per annum pay increases and the rest of the offer ensures stability in terms and conditions for employees over the next four years.

 

“This offer ensures that NTPS teachers and educators retain their position as among the best paid in the country.”

 

Mr Simpson has requested a response to his offer by this Friday, 21 November.

 

Meanwhile, striking teachers this afternoon returned to work to be greeted by a notice from Mr Simpson’s office, informing them that he would “not accept” the performance from them of any work for the day, action which the union describes as a lockout”.

 

The notice said Mr Simpson’s decision is allowable under the Fair Work Act, a “logical and fair” response to their disruptive action.

 

Said the notice:

 

“Union members are able to take industrial action as is their right, but if that action effectively means the end of student instruction for the whole day; results in reductions in student attendance; and closes schools, their services will not be required for the whole day.”

 

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10 Comments (starting with the most recent)

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  1. Janet Brown
    Posted November 25, 2013 at 6:58 am

    The Naplan test. You are kidding yourself. The test that when implemented students spent weeks practicing. And there is still coaching and the results are not a true reflection of class and school teaching abilities.
    If teachers were assessed on their teaching abilities then the true gauge would be student learning outcomes. The Naplan test implemented in our schools is like giving student paint by number art works and putting them on display as free hand painting.
    How can our kids face up to reality when their teachers are running away at a million miles an hour from the truth.
    As I said true teaching results should be based on student outcomes. If that cannot be the gauge of good teaching, what is?

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  2. bush teacher
    Posted November 23, 2013 at 6:32 am

    @Daniel Davis: yes your argument reflects the government’s line on this, why keep throwing high expenditure at schools for worse outcomes? It’s an argument that makes sense for remote Indigenous schools where real class sizes (as opposed to enrolments) are usually very small.
    But in town we really do have some of the most difficult classes to run, there is an often tense racial mix, some severe behavioural problems (death threats to teachers not uncommon), drug use is rampant and teacher stress is high.
    NAPLAN outcomes are not the only measure we need to look at.
    Many of the present generation of students could end up in well paying jobs or in jail, it is teachers who will play a huge role in that life outcome and we should be wary of slashing their numbers.

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  3. Daniel Davis
    Posted November 22, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    @Bob Whitehead: Seeing that despite a significant rise in human resources throughout government schools in the NT, there has been no improvement in educational outcomes.
    How do you back up your claim that this will have a ‘very detrimental impact on Northern Territory students’?

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  4. Daniel Davis
    Posted November 22, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    The ‘we need more teachers’ debate seems to me to be overly simplistic and entirely ineffectual, it is putting the cart before the horse.
    I started school in a small rural town, classes were combined (e.g. grade 1 and 2 were one class) and there were around 25 students per class. Based on their last annual report it is still much the same. Compared to regional NT schools with similar K-12 enrolment and staffing numbers such as Yuendumu students educational outcomes are in stark contrast.
    Increasing teacher numbers has obviously not changed anything over the last five years and will not until change can be made in the home. The old saying that ‘education begins in the home’ rings true here, if a child is not receiving the parental educational support at home and are not regularly attending school, their educational prospects are dim.
    It is obvious that educational budgets need to change the target of their spending to engaging students and parents in the early years of learning. Throwing teachers at the problem does not address the cause.

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  5. roger ,darwin.
    Posted November 21, 2013 at 11:02 am

    Anyone notice that this EBA offer by Ken Simpson has the same Four year time frame offered to bus drivers & any other government agencies. CLP does not have authority nor a mandate from the citizens of the NT to negotiate anything over THREE years time!When they face an election.

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  6. Ray
    Posted November 21, 2013 at 8:55 am

    Sorry Janet, you are comparing apples with oranges here. This is one of the hurdles in that we cannot compare our schools to Edge hill with only about 10% indigenous. It’s great that edge hill had involvement from parents and grandparents, but one of our challenges is to not only to get these parents and grandparents to send their kid to school, but to provide all the other things that are needed, such as a stable home, good nutrition and a good night’s sleep. Our teachers are trying to “bridge the gap” through education, but this government is making it like trying to bridge the river Kwai for our teachers. Unfortunately if we were to apply your example here you would end up with a lot of good teachers getting sacked, and principals getting the chop too.
    Taking into account the massive challenges we have here,we need more support for our teachers and schools not less. We have a much higher proportion of special needs kids, that require specialist support in the classroom, otherwise a disproportionate amount of time is spent assisting these kids to the detriment of others. We all want the best for our kids, and to do that we need to expect better understanding of the tools the teachers need to get the job done. How can a principal be held responsible for a child that never attends. It’s like saying the Mayor of Alice Springs can sack councilors because of high levels of antisocial behavior in this town. I am sure your husband and others are doing their best, but would a big stick make them do their job better?

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  7. Bob Whitehead
    Posted November 20, 2013 at 6:48 pm

    I have had a look at the few “points of revision” Mr Simpson submitted to the union today and I am not able to detect any real or significant changes. Certainly, there is nothing in the revised offer that would have me running to my colleagues suggesting that we should immediately accept it.

    Mr Simpson states that “changes in staffing” are a matter of government policy and this is true. But to expect that the Union will willingly accept staffing changes which will have a very detrimental impact on Northern Territory students at all levels through increased class sizes and loss of choice in regards to subjects provided, would lead you to question the sanity of Union members.

    There are also provisions in the agreement for a consultative process. I believe in consultation. I was not however consulted in regards to the significant changes the Government of the Day, and your office have developed for implementation. I do not believe that our clients, the students or their parents were consulted.

    To use dollars as an incentive for achieving agreement is a poor alternative for sitting down, discussing and evaluating the needs of the students which should be the basis of the negotiation process. For many years we have seen the loss of special support services for students with learning difficulties, ESL students including Indigenous students and the children of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. At what point will you consider stopping the cuts. When there are no teachers?

    If you are of the belief that teachers are deserving of the pay increases that you are offering then start paying it. The old agreement expired due to the intransigence of the government and your office at the negotiating table. Surely you are able to cobble together an “interm” agreement in which you are able to start paying the money you believe we deserve.

    I do question your assertion that we are among the “best paid” teachers in the nation. This may be true when only the numbers are considered but when cost of living and other factors, including forecast CPI increases are included, then the “disposable” income of teachers in the NT is sliding, not climbing, in comparison to the income of teachers in other jurisdictions.

    Your expectation that the union should be able to consult members and “get back to you” on your revised offer within a couple of days is preposterous.

    In short Mr Simpson, I see nothing in your revised offer that ensures that “Stability” will arise from the chaos you have created in the public education system.

    Regards,

    Bob Whitehead
    Centralian Senior College,
    AEU-NT sub-branch delegate.

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  8. Bob Whitehead
    Posted November 20, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    Dear Mr Simpson,

    As a “returning to school teacher” post participation in the Unions’ Fair Work Approved, Protected Industrial Action, that is, a four hour stop work meeting. I was somewhat annoyed to find that you had determined that our work for the day would not be accepted, and that we would not be paid for any work completed on that day.

    The purpose of the approved industrial action was not to disrupt student learning, nor was it specifically undertaken to cause difficulties to parents. Our purpose was to ensure that the public is accurately apprised of your proposed actions and how they will impact on schools, and more specifically, student options and access to required subjects over the next several years.

    I am aware Mr Simpson that you have been appointed by the Territory Government and that one of your roles is to ensure the employment of teachers and support staff so that students may undertake “compulsory” schooling and become productive members of our community. From that perspective Mr Simpson, you are in fact my employer. You are not however who I work for. I work for the students and the parents of the students who attend the school I work at. I am sure Mr Simpson that you did not consult those people to seek approval to not accept the work I did on the 19th of November. I am sure that as you are not accepting the work I did yesterday you are not particularly interested in what I actually did but others may be;

    I returned to work at 1145 (sign in sheet available at the school), for a 1200 appointment with a student seeking assistance to pass a subject,

    At 1245, I had a further appointment with three year 12 students seeking support for final tasks,

    At 1300, I was working to assess and evaluate, for final grading purposes, folios of work for Stage I students,

    At 1400 I was working with another group of Stage I students, again for completion of assessment tasks,

    At 1415, I was again working with students for folio completion.

    1420, Interviewing another student for Stage I subject assessment (B level result acquired on the basis of this interview),

    At 1500 I was again assessing and evaluating student folders,

    At 1640 I left work to pick up my wife and have a meal at home,

    At 1900, I started looking at student work on a memory stick at home,

    At 2000, I returned to school as late in the afternoon a number of students had indicated that they would put more work on the “Y: Drive” which I cannot access from home,

    I returned home a little before 2200 having downloaded work to a memory stick so that I could complete assessments of this particular group of students, done by 2300,

    At 0730, 20th November, I returned to school to input student data onto SAMS, another computer program I am unable to access from home.

    Throughout the 20th, I have been doing my usual work until 1630 or thereabouts,

    I will be back at work this evening for a meeting and to complete assessment and evaluation of folios with a Stage II group I worked with during my rostered “non-contact” time today.

    Mr Simpson, do you really think that these students and their parents would thank you for not accepting the work I have done on the 19th, and the extra work that I have done today?

    Regards,

    Bob Whitehead

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  9. Penny Whiley
    Posted November 20, 2013 at 9:16 am

    Playing by the rules is something all people accept as being decent and civilised, even in times of war. Not so if you are the employer of hundreds of teachers in Central Australia.It appears that it is perfectly acceptable to treat intelligent committed and experienced teachers like scum.
    When I returned to my place of work yesterday,I had arranged to meet with students who were struggling to finish their year 11 English folio of work. I also knew that I had an exam supervision duty. In addition, I had an exam to mark and data to compile so that Wednesday’s deadline for stage 2 final marks would be met.I left work at 5pm.If I have worked for no remuneration, I will be seeking a lawyer. If parents agree with me, please show your support. This Government is making up the rules as it goes along. None of us deserve such ineptitude!

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  10. Janet brown
    Posted November 20, 2013 at 8:25 am

    In cairns my sons went to edge hill state school the principle interviewed and employed the teachers. It was the best school during his time he monitored student outcomes and teachers abilities. The buck stopped with him. Maybe that is what we need in the territory. Principles who ensure teachers are resourced and work as a team. And all students are monitored. If students fail that the principles are responsible. Team work strategies and goals. That was his philosophy. There was no big cash for struggling students but there was funding for certain programs. There was a big support from parents and grand parents in the class room initiated by a strong P&T. Just like at Edge Hill state school make principles responsible for failings in their schools. End of every term assessments KPI’s on all teachers reflective of student outcomes.

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