AEU President David Genford has taken a list of issues raised by Education Support Specialist (ESS) members to the Department of Education. The response from the Department was positive towards laptop access, professional learning and ESS receiving the same DoE communication as Teachers.
Following an initial meeting, a list of ESS issues identified by the AEU member Working Group has been sent to the DoE for consideration and action, including;
- PLANNING TIME – Inconsistency from one ESS or school to another regarding planning time. Some ESS have adequate time to lesson plan, independently or with a Teacher and others have none at all.
One ESS explained they were working across two schools, and had no planning/resourcing time factored into their timetable at all meaning they were forced to do this work in unpaid time.
- PROFESSIONAL LEARNING – No PL has been offered to ESS as yet although it was promised at roll out of the Prep program. ESS Working Group members have requested PL specific to their role.
Members have questioned what should happen on Moderation Days. Some ESS attended MD, but just as an observer. In future, ESS members would like to participate, or have the opportunity to use the day as a PL opportunity with all ESS in the State meeting in one central location.
- BETTR TIME – This would be very valuable to new ESS, as with Beginning Teachers.
- SMALL GROUP WORK – ESS members raised concerns around what an acceptable number of students in their small group work was. Although most are working with up to 10 students some had heard of the possibility of up to 20 students.
- PERMANANCY – What is the criteria for gaining permanency? Same as Teachers? Will they then be in a Flexible ESS Pool for 2 years? And then what?
- TRANSFER – Does the Teachers Transfer Agreement apply?
- EMAILS – DoE communication to Teachers is relevant to ESS but they are not receiving them.
- LAPTOPS – As ESS are planning and assessing they require their own laptops. Some members have been supplied with a laptop, but others have not.
- DoE Fixed Term and Relief Employment Register – No drop down menu for ESS (only Teacher and TA)
- STARTING TIME – ESS would like to start 30 minutes prior to classes starting (as Teachers do) to be available for the same opportunities with students and parents.
- STAFF MEETINGS AND OTHER ACTIVITIES – Some ESS members are only given work hours similar to TA’s and are then unable to attend staff meetings, parent teacher nights, planning meetings and learning plan meetings. The opportunity to attend these in paid time would benefit ESS in their roles. Should there be a table ‘ESS Hours and Duties other than ESS Hours’, similar to DOTT time?
AEU leadership will continue to advocate for these items to be resolved and to have all improvements clearly communicated.
Items not dealt with directly with the DoE may be included in the Log of Claims for a new Agreement covering ESS and Teachers, such as an updated statement of duties, clarified roles and responsibilities, planning and preparation time and access ESS-specific PL.
ESS members are encouraged to get involved in the campaign for a new Agreement with information available here: https://aeutas.org.au/groups/eb-campaign/activity/
Join the ESS discussion on the ‘ESS of the AEU’ members-only Facebook group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/essaeu/