Literacy and numeracy classroom support rejected by Rockliff Government

Key education bodies have called on the Rockliff Government to back critically needed in-class support, as a deadline for industrial negotiations draws closer.

Teachers want more literacy and numeracy support in classrooms as data shows declining literacy and numeracy skills among Tasmanian students. 

Australian Education Union Tasmania President David Genford said teachers identified more in-class support from Teacher Assistants and Education Support Specialist [ESS] as a top priority to address excessive workloads pushing educators out of the profession. 

“Student literacy and numeracy is suffering because our children aren’t getting the support, or attention, they need to reach their full potential,” he said. 

“This cannot be ignored any longer. 

“Our classrooms need more support from teacher assistants and ESS who can help lift the burden on our worn-out teachers, but the Rockliff Government has shown it is unwilling to put student learning first.” 

Teachers and support staff at the AEU last year called on the Rockliff Government to lift learning through a range of measures including adding a Teacher Assistant or an ESS in every Tasmanian classroom. 

The proposal had been backed by the Tasmanian Association of State Schools Organisation [TASSO] as well as the state’s Mathematics Association, with both bodies joining calls for much needed education reform. 

After the Government rejected the initial item, the AEU put forward a compromised suggestion:  Two hours per class, per day of extra literacy and numeracy support from a teacher assistant or ESS.  

However, the revised solution has again been blocked by the Rockliff Government. 

It comes as educators across the state ramp up industrial action for better working and learning conditions, with educators not ruling out further action until real education reform is achieved. 

TASSO supports the AEU Lifting Learning solutions as one way to address the state’s high teacher attrition rate, TASSO operations manager Jessica Bennett said. 

 “Teacher wellbeing and support is key in ensuring our children’s education isn’t impacted by losing excellent teachers to burn out,” said Ms Bennett. 

 “Our students deserve happy engaged teachers.  

 “Increasing the classroom support, will improve wellbeing, productiveness and could help towards improved academic results and behavioural issues within classrooms. 

“TASSO back the urgent call from teachers for more in-class support – particularly around literacy and numeracy – to be acted upon now to ensure our children’s education is given every opportunity to thrive.” 

Mathematics Association of Tasmania’s Helen Prochazka said maths in Tasmania was “in crisis” and neededimmediate attention. 

“Student mathematics results are getting worse and worse each year, and that’s because we have a chronic teacher shortage, made worse by a lack of support in our classrooms to allow students to excel in this area,” she said. 

“Some high school maths classes have not had a maths teacher all year, just a series of relief teachers who stay for various periods. 

“We need real education reform to lift the standards of mathematics in Tasmania for future generations.” 

Mr Genford said pressure remained on the Rockliff Government to deliver a fair and better deal for educators – and one that included significant workload solutions – ahead of the December 1 deadline. 


Tasmanian education – the facts   


·   Tasmania has the highest levels of disadvantage compared to the rest of Australia, with more than two-thirds of children and young people living in areas of relative disadvantage; characterised by low income, low educational attainment and high unemployment.   

·   One in five (21.5%) Tasmanian students are assessed as being “developmentally vulnerable”, meaning they need intensive support early on at school if they are to catchup with their peers.   

·    On average, Tasmanian teachers do about 11 hours per week of unpaid overtime with principals regularly working 60-hour weeks.   

·    Tasmanian teachers are the lowest paid in Australia.