Here is the ACT Greens response to the Australian Education Union’s Public Education Pledge:
o Put public education first. The incoming government must recognise that the primary obligation of government is to public education.
The ACT greens strongly believe that free, high-quality education promotes equality of opportunity, is a cornerstone of a healthy democracy and is fundamental to a prosperous and fair society, and as such we agree that the ACT Governments must recognise that the primary obligation of government is public education, by prioritising the public education system.
o Prioritise public school funding. The incoming government must commit to indexation funding of at least 3% per annum plus student enrolment growth, and maintain current funding levels to all ACT public schools in real terms, at least until all ACT private schools are transitioned down to 100% of the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS).
The ACT Greens want a fully funded public, secular education system to meet the needs of ACT students in all their diversity - and we want that funding based on a formula that supports equitable educational opportunities and that is allocated in a transparent, accountable and needs-based manner, such as those outlined in the original Gonski principles. We support the ongoing increase in funding to all ACT public schools in real terms.
o Make all learning spaces temperature controlled and smoke free. The climate is changing, and the incoming government must ensure that learning conditions for students and working conditions for educators are not compromised. All indoor learning spaces must be between 17 and 30 degrees at all times, appropriately ventilated, and smoke free.
We know that it is the responsibility of any good government to ensure the provision of high-quality, well-resourced and safe learning environments that are open to all students, and we agree that the threat posed by climate change makes it critical to provide temperature-controlled, ventilated and smoke-free indoor learning spaces. The ACT Greens are committed to seeing a safe, student-centred, healthy and high-quality school environment for all students, teachers and other staff.
o Fight for the right student assessment. Teachers on the whole do not support NAPLAN. The incoming government must push hard at the national level for NAPLAN’s abolition and for a way of assessing that has teachers at the design stage and the best interests of students at heart.
The ACT Greens support the AEU and others call for a new way of testing students that can clearly show its value to all - teachers, parents, governments and most importantly - students. We want to ensure that all students are supported to develop their potential, including those with culturally and socially diverse backgrounds, and students living with a physical or intellectual disability. We recognise the value of standardised testing to better inform the interventions needed to improve academic outcomes over time.
o Cap class sizes. The incoming government must immediately provide the resources to negate the need for any exceptions to the agreed class size maximums in schools.
We know that unfortunately, teaching is an undervalued profession that should be more highly respected. To develop a vibrant public education system, which attains world-class standards of excellence and is built on an evolving and research-based curriculum and pedagogy, we must continue to work with teachers and resource schools to ensure the best possible class sizes and teacher-student ratios that meet the needs of today and tomorrow.
o Make sure every public school has a great school library, in a purpose-built facility staffed on a full-time basis by fully qualified teacher-librarians and support staff.
Each school has different needs, but all schools should have the best possible range of accessible education and training programs, including literacy and numeracy, to offer new opportunities. Libraries are essential for all school students learning and understanding of the world, and qualified librarians can be a vital support all students to have equality of access to digital technology, increase their research skills, and to be supported to be kept safe and to understand the risks and benefits of cyber platforms, including social media platforms.
o Bring CIT into the Education Portfolio. CIT is a public education institution and it should be the responsibility of the Education Minister. Further, the AEU is the voice of CIT educators and it needs a designated seat on the CIT Board.
The ACT Greens want improved transitions between early childhood, primary, secondary, college, tertiary and vocational education sectors, and greater coordination across those sectors. And we know that to achieve this, we must see learning as a lifelong process that is fostered in both formal and informal settings. To ensure that providers of vocational and other future training needs in the ACT consider the changing labour market, gender equity and the development of new skills for a just transition to a green economy, we support the CIT being considered as part of the broader Education portfolio, and the need for the voice of the union to be heard on the Board.