Australian Education Union Federal Office

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Submitter information


Australian Education Union Federal Office

Where are you located?


What type of area do you live in?


Are you an education professional?
(e.g. teacher, school leader, learning support assistant, teacher’s aide)


Which sector do you work in?

Early childhood education and care,Primary,Secondary,Special education

What is your occupation?

National union for public school teachers and leaders in preschool, public schools and TAFE

Elevating the profession

The actions proposed recognise the value teachers bring to students, communities and the economy.

Somewhat agree

Would you like to provide feedback about these actions?

The AEU agrees with the objective but disagrees with several of the key actions in this priority area.

The elevation of the profession cannot be achieved through marketing campaigns or the creation of new awards for teachers. It requires increased investment in the profession and the removal of flat salary structures for teachers in Australia, which peak at approximately 140% of graduate salary after 10 years, compared to 160% to 170% of graduate salary after 15 years across the OECD. Teacher of the year awards and OAs will be seen as platitudinous by teachers dealing with stagnant pay, punishing and increasing workloads and little opportunity to progress whilst remaining in the classroom.

Action point 1 that Ministers and stakeholders will “actively promote teachers’ excellent work” must be strengthened to include a responsibility for Ministers to defend teachers and actively rebut ideological attacks on teachers from media commentators. It is also unclear how the action plan could compel the media to actively promote teachers, thus creating an unachievable objective.

In addition to increasing the number of HALTs, this action must include concrete steps to increase remuneration and progression paths for all teachers through industrial agreements. This must include improving career structures and salaries for all teachers, so that teachers do not hit a salary ceiling after 9 to 10 years. The opportunity to progress throughout their career must be extended to all teachers, not just those who manage to navigate the onerous and time consuming HALT process. The HALT recognition process must be consistent and accessible across all jurisdictions where it operates.

Real action on reward structures for all teachers will drive improvements in recognition and respect for the profession.

Improving teacher supply

The actions proposed will be effective in increasing the number of students entering ITE, number of students completing ITE and the number of teachers staying in and/or returning to the profession.

Somewhat disagree

Would you like to provide feedback about these actions?

ITE places must be allocated to institutions that are able to provide consistently high quality ITE and entry standards must be maintained or improved when additional places are added.

The 5,000 bursaries of up to $40,000 each ($20,000 for postgraduate ITE) are welcome but $56.2 million will not fully fund 5,000 places. That would require approximately $160 million with the current 70% undergraduate and 30% post graduate ITE composition.

The 2021 evaluation of the HAT program found concerns about the classroom readiness of Teach for Australia LDP participants and found it was too early to effectively review the Nexus program.

A better use of the $68.3 million additional HAT funding would be to increase the postgraduate bursary by $22,500 per year for 1,500 students undertaking a two year master’s in teaching, making them eligible for a total bursary of $32,500 each year. This would improve school readiness and alleviate disincentives to undertake a master’s in teaching.

Action point 8 relies on existing state based attraction programs and does not focus enough on measures to retain existing teachers or attract back those who have left. The underlying reasons for attrition, including salary, career progression, workload and stress, are not addressed. Urgent action is needed to retain existing teachers, and this should not be delayed until the second half of 2023.

Action point 9 must ensure that overseas teachers are not registered without full qualifications. E.g., Qualified Teacher Status in the UK allows those without ITE qualifications to register as “teachers” after working for two years as “unqualified teachers” in private schools, free schools and academies.

Strengthening Initial Teacher Education (ITE)

The actions proposed will ensure initial teacher education supports teacher supply and quality.

Somewhat agree

Would you like to provide feedback about these actions?

Teachers need to be consulted on best practice for Professional Experience Placements through the AEU. Extended practicums must include an appropriate level of in-class supervision and support by a mentor. However, this must be done without creating additional workload burdens for teacher mentors therefore requires additional funding.

Changes designed to improve the quality of placements must be accompanied by increased resources to schools. Current supervision payments to support teacher mentoring of ITE students have not kept pace with the cost of living and AEU members report that providers often try to avoid making payments to teachers and/or schools. These payments must be increased and paid on time.

The AEU is broadly supportive of the potential for paid internships for mid-career entrants to ITE so long as it is part of a robust masters’ degree. Paid internships accompanied by bursaries will help to enable mid-career entrants to ITE to undertake a masters’ degree and will improve classroom readiness. The Action Plan should also facilitate paid practicums due to cost of living pressures and the inability of preservice teachers to work during practicums.

The AEU suggests that the Action Plan consider increasing flexibility in practicum scheduling across the academic year so that preservice teachers have an opportunity to engage in longer periods of paid practicums to encourage supportive school mentoring relationships (with increased resource for mentors) and community bonds.

The AEU supports the plan to increase the number of First Nations teachers by leveraging key lessons from MATSITI and supports the co-design and close partnership with the organisations listed. We encourage the department to engage with the AEU Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Committee, Yalukit Yulendj.

The AEU is opposed to LANTITE as an assessment of skills, and AEU policy is that ITE entry should be maintained through recruitment of the top 30% of school graduates. However, the AEU welcomes the change to allow students to take the test prior to the commencement of studies, the increased feedback and support and additional permitted attempts proposed in the plan.

Maximising the time to teach

The actions proposed will improve retention and free up teachers to focus on teaching and collaboration.

Somewhat disagree

Would you like to provide feedback about these actions?

The worsening teacher shortage crisis has been ten years in the making. National surveys have consistently found that workload is the most urgent issue for teachers. The action plan must contain urgent and concrete actions to address the underlying causes of the teacher shortage - unsustainable workloads, uncompetitive salaries and career structures and insecure work.

The Workload Reduction Fund at action point 14 is welcome, but the AEU is concerned that participation is optional with the fund being available to “interested states and territories”. All states and territories need to step up and must participate in the pilots as soon as possible so that evaluations can be made prior to the 2024 school year.

The workload reduction fund should be accompanied by a well-resourced effort from all governments to immediately implement positive outcomes from the pilot to reduce workload burden.

The NSW, ACT and WA Branches of the AEU do not consider the initiatives at action point 15 to be positive examples of ways to reduce workload. Specific and detailed action is required, such as the negotiated outcomes listed for Victoria and Queensland, not just minor reforms to administrative process or increased flexibility to principals.

The AEU considers that AERO holds a deficit view of teachers and their work. Action point 16 is unclear on how AERO will contribute to the implementation of the national curriculum and literacy and numeracy progressions. This action needs to make explicit reference to teachers being consulted through their union at all stages of this work.

The Teacher Workload Impact Assessment for each NSRA initiative is very positive and should be prioritised to ensure it is in use during negotiations for the next NSRA and during NSRA implementation from 2024.

The AEU is concerned about the lack of detail in the suggestion, at action point 18, that ITE students could be used to reduce teacher workload. ITE students’ engagement in schools should ideally be a placement or paid internship under appropriate supervision. The AEU also urge consideration of the risk of burning out preservice teachers from excessive engagement prior to qualification.

Better understanding future teacher workforce needs

How effective are the proposed actions in better understanding future teacher workforce needs, including the number of teachers required?

Very effective

Would you like to provide feedback about these actions?

The inclusion of attrition rates at action point 20 is welcome, as is the partnership with unions in the development of this data.

Action point 21 must focus on ATRAs ensuring that adherence to the existing Australian Professional Standards for Teachers is maintained in the proposed National Quality Framework. AEU participation on the AITSL Board is an essential requirement for this to occur.

The statement of expectations to ATRAs and AITSL, and the updated policies and processes to facilitate more efficient national teacher mobility and streamline registration for prospective teachers such as teachers from overseas and retired teachers, as outlined at action point 22, must not result in any lowering of the standard of skills and experience necessary for provisional registration in any jurisdiction, nor create “registration pathways” for unqualified persons such as in the TFA program.

The development and publication of comprehensive data on teacher attrition at action point 23 is welcome, and the AEU requires input into the development of this dataset through a seat on the AITSL Board. The timeline for AESOC to advise ministers on this by mid-2023 seems optimistic as it gives six months to collect, analyse, report, respond and offer solutions to the attrition data. If a comprehensive body of work within the proposed timeline is achievable, then the AEU welcomes the swift action.

The inclusion of salary, career structure and workload measures to retain teachers and attract qualified teachers back to the profession is welcome. HELP debt relief and additional housing affordability measures such as stamp duty relief should be considered in consultation with the AEU and the IEU, as should other affordability measures including rental relief and salary sacrifice and FBT relief for teachers in rural and remote areas as an attraction and retention measure.

Better career pathways to support and retain teachers in the profession

The proposed actions will improve career pathways, including through streamlining the process for Highly Accomplished and Lead Teacher (HALT) accreditation, and providing better professional support for teachers to retain them in the profession.

Somewhat agree

Would you like to provide feedback about these actions?

Action point 24 should also refer to ensuring that teachers are appropriately rewarded throughout their career independently of whether they seek or attain HALT status. The timing of the development of this pathway should occur as soon as possible.

The mentoring and induction guidelines raised at action point 25 are welcome, as is the proposed union consultation on timelines. The AEU recommends that unions are also involved in the actual development of the guidelines, and that significant additional resource is provided to ensure that both early career and experienced teachers have the time to properly engage in mentoring processes.

Early career teacher members have consistently told the AEU that their ITE did not prepare them adequately for teaching First Nations students, and the AEU recommends that action point 26 is extended to require that all ITE courses must include a module on cultural competency and cultural safety. These modules must be developed with and approved by First Nations educators before implementation.

The streamlining of HALT accreditation processes at action point 27 is welcome and must be accompanied by a parallel new process to ensure that teachers across all jurisdictions are able to access salary progression throughout their career, rather than hitting a ceiling at 9-10 years as is currently the case, which is a major driver of mid-career attrition.

The AEU recommends that the $10 million allocated for micro-credentials at action point 28 is redirected towards CPD approved by ATRAs and to additional release time for teachers to undertake CPD. We also emphasise that peer observation undertaken as part of QTR must be based on collegial engagement between peers using mutually agreed procedures to foster a culture of shared responsibility and professionalism.