Strong support for recruitment reform
The most significant reform to teacher recruitment in many years will begin immediately, after Australian Education Union members voted to endorse a new recruitment and selection policy.
AEU President Correna Haythorpe says a strong 75 per cent of members voted in favour of initiatives to give schools greater flexibility in staffing, and which will increase the rate of permanency in teacher employment.
"Three out of four of our members who voted over the past week in a state wide ballot said "yes" to measures we hope will revitalise the profession, give certainty to teachers and flexibility to schools" Ms Haythorpe says.
It follows last year's arbitration decision which concluded that the high level of contract teaching in SA schools was unacceptable.
"A key element of the changes is the end of the 10 year tenure rule, which forced teachers to move schools every 10 years. It means that teachers will be able to stay on in positions, with less disruption and greater continuity for schools."
"In addition, vacancies will be able to be locally advertised and, significantly, they'll be available to both permanent and contract staff."
"We believe these measures will see around 700 teachers who've been living in the limbo land of short term contracts applying for and securing permanency. This is possibly the most significant measure to boost the recruitment and retention of teachers we've seen for many years," she says.
"In addition we have several hundred Permanent Against Temporary or PAT staff in our schools – that is, staff filling permanent vacancies who have to move every year – and under these changes we expect many will be able to get off the ten year roundabout and settle in a school."
"We also sought and won a guarantee that staff in country schools will be able to return to the metropolitan area after four or five years. This is a huge win for hard-to-staff country schools that we hope will deliver them new teachers and more stability in staffing."
"We are confident these reforms will usher in a new era of staff satisfaction and better working conditions - however we can't take that for granted. Accordingly, one guarantee we extracted during the six-month negotiation process was for a review to occur 12 months after the implementation of the policy. If the improvements we expect don't occur, then we'll have the chance to put things right during the review," Ms Haythorpe says.
Ms Haythorpe says part of the success of the changes will depend on retirement rates meeting forecasts and schools taking up the option to advertise positions locally.
"If it doesn't work as intended, particularly in terms of attracting quality staff to remote and hard to staff schools, then we will be re-opening negotiations with the Department to fix things via the review," she says.
"I'd like to take this opportunity to congratulate the AEU team and DECS staff who have shown incredible perseverance and professionalism in achieving this outcome. We hope that this process augers well for next year's round of Enterprise Bargaining negotiations and that Minister Weatherill maintains his commitment to increased permanency for staff and continues his constructive dialogue with the education sector," Ms Haythorpe says.
Read about it on Adelaide Now.