An independent survey by the Australian Council of Educational Research (ACER) of educator practice in Tasmanian public schools shows a system under stress due to shortages of staff, and educators burdened by excessive administration, the AEU said today.
“The report reveals public schools without enough teachers, support staff and professional support services to meet the growing learning needs of students and principals spending most of their time buried in paperwork,” said Helen Richardson, AEU Tasmania President.
“80% of Principals say they need additional staff, while 90% of primary principals urgently need more professional support staff for their school such as school psychologists and speech therapists to address the needs of students.”
“Three quarters of secondary teachers say they don’t have enough time to ensure the majority of their lessons are well planned, and a third of primary teachers don’t believe they meet the learning needs of kids slipping behind — there is an urgent need for Government to act.”
“The survey paints a clear picture of a public-school system in desperate need of additional staff and a reduction in red tape that is diverting teachers and principals from a focus on teaching and learning.”
“A system where principals have to prioritise administration over improving the quality of teaching and learning at their school shows a system severely off kilter.”
“Teachers say they urgently need more teacher assistants for in-class support and to enable every child to receive the individual attention they need.”
“Our students will continue to receive a quality education but only because teachers, principals and support staff are going above and beyond to support the needs of students and it is not sustainable.”
The survey also found that for professional support staff like school psychologists just 17% in primary and 25% in secondary report manageable workloads.
“Due to chronic staff shortages, teachers and principals are required to also act as social workers, psychologists and do data entry. This should ring alarm bells for anyone concerned about quality education and our state’s future,” she said.
More than 3,000 DOE employees participated in the ACER survey which has been released just weeks after research from independent policy analyst Martin Goddard revealed $51 million in GST money given to the state government for public education was diverted elsewhere by the Hodgman Government.
“State and federal education cuts and the Hodgman Government’s sell out of our Gonski agreement, that would have delivered $85M in next two years to our schools, is why Tasmanian schools are now severely understaffed and are struggling to provide a quality education for all kids,” said Ms Richardson.
“If our political leaders act decisively now on the advice of educators then we can chart a positive course for Tasmania’s future where every student at TAFE and in schools receives the quality education they need to reach their full potential.”
The AEU has launched a Quality Education for All campaign calling on the main political parties – Liberals, The Greens and Labor – to deliver the staff needed in schools and TAFE to deliver quality education and to reduce administration tasks so educators can focus on their core work of teaching and learning.
Harriet Binet, AEU Tasmania, 0427 841 760.