Education

Principles

The NSW Greens believe:

1. Education is a human right of children and people at all stages of life.

2. Governments have a responsibility to provide high quality comprehensive public education for all people living in Australia.

3. Resources within public education should be allocated to achieve equity in educational opportunity and outcome. Public education should be funded so that it is free and so that every learner in a public facility receives the highest quality education. All children and young people have the right to a safe and protective learning environment.

4. Public schools, TAFE colleges and universities should be free from partisan political interference and from the need to compete in the marketplace for funding and/or resources.

5. No public funding should be provided to non-government schools or colleges where the potential to do the following is apparent:

5.1. Disadvantage the public school system;

5.2. Exacerbate socioeconomic inequality;

5.3. Create ethnic or religious divisions;

5.4. Disadvantage students with disabilities;

5.5 Permit discriminatory behaviour;

5.6. Contribute to profits of any corporation or other organisation; or

5.7. Compromise the viability of any public school.

Government should pursue a model of education whereby schools which are not secular, comprehensive and inclusive do not receive public funding.

6. The public education system should be secular.

7. Curriculum should be determined:

7.1. Without political, sectarian religious and economic interference; and

7.2. Using an evidence-based approach informed by professional educators and their industrial representatives, and in consultation with diverse community representatives.

8. The funding of equity programs in public schools is an important social investment.

9. Vocational education and training is much more than just a series of competencies. The educational values of TAFE must be protected.

10. A publicly funded TAFE system should be the dominant provider of vocational and further education and training, with no student fees or charges so that  TAFE is affordable to all.

11. Resources and structures within Public Education should recognise the unique educational requirements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and redress the impacts of two centuries of socio-economic and cultural discrimination and abuse.

12. Universities need to be well resourced in order to provide high quality education research, social critique and community services. University should be free to all qualified students.

13.  The Greens NSW long term vision is for a comprehensive public education system funded through a national needs-based funding model at a level that enables public schools to be sufficiently diverse, inclusive, responsive, and flexible enough to cater for all children's educational needs.

Aims

The Greens NSW will work towards:

School funding

14. Implement funding consistent with 100% of the Schooling Resource Standard (plus needs-based loadings) in 100% of public schools no later than 2023.

15. Ensure implementation of the Schooling Resource Standard in public schools results in:

15.1. The abolition of fees, charges and ‘voluntary contributions’ in public education.

15.2. An increase in the number of school counsellors, specialist teachers for students with learning difficulties, specialist ESL Teachers, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education support staff, and resources for children with special needs, to meet the need for their services.

16. Ensure class sizes are reduced to a maximum of 20 students for years K-2, 25 for years 3-12, and limited to 20 for practical subjects including science. The staffing formula should be applied separately to K-2 and 3-12. The class sizes policy should be enshrined in the Award.

17. Ensure teaching assistants and reduced class sizes are provided for all classrooms in which children with special needs are integrated.

18. Public school buildings and grounds are cleaned and maintained to the highest standards, with secure ongoing employment and salary justice for schools maintenance and cleaning staff.

19. Ensure sustainable climate control technologies are installed where classrooms are exposed to temperature extremes. All unflued gas heaters should be removed and replaced immediately with high efficiency, low emissions technologies.

20. Ensure that for so long as the NSW government fails to implement the Schooling Resource Standard, additional teachers and resources are provided to public schools serving socioeconomically disadvantaged communities.

21. Ensure English as a Second Language teaching services are available to all students in public education who have special language needs.

22. Ensure support is provided to attract and maintain staff in difficult-to-staff schools.

23. Ensure support is provided to enable schools and regions to address the shortage of casual teachers.

24. Direct additional resources to the early years of high school to facilitate the transition from primary school.

25. Ensure beginning teachers are mentored by experienced teachers with additional release time for both.

26. Ensure the Transport Conveyance Subsidy Scheme is restricted to travel to the nearest public school with exceptions for travel to another public school where enrolment of a student at the closest public school is no longer viable.

27. Abolish all state government funding of non-government schools. Public funds that are given to these schools under current arrangements should be committed instead to equity programs within the public school system.

28. As long as state government funding of non-government schools continues, the Greens NSW believe that:

28.1. All public funding of the wealthiest private schools should be abolished and the public funds that are given to these schools under current arrangements should be committed instead to equity programs within the public school system.

28.2. Private schools and non-government school systems that receive public funding should be subject to the same level of public accountability and scrutiny as applies to public schools, with this being a condition of ongoing public funding.

28.3. Non-government schools funding mechanisms that unfairly act to the detriment of public education should be abolished

28.4. No public funding should be provided to schools that discriminate on the basis of ethnicity, religious background, sexual preference, marital status, gender identity or expression, disability, or ability to pay fees. The Greens NSW also believe that public funding should not be allocated to private schools that engage in discrimination in employment practices. We are committed to removing all exemptions for private schools from the Anti-discrimination Act.

28.5. Capital works should be funded only in government schools.

29. Abolish the present land tax exemptions for non-government educational institutions.

30. Oppose educational vouchers that would inevitably damage public education.

31. Reject:

31.1. Commercial sponsorship in public schools;

31.2. Privatisation and competitive tendering policies in public education;

31.3. The devolution of responsibility reflected in NSW government policies such as ‘Local Schools, Local Decisions’. This is a mechanism to shift the blame for insufficient resources from government to principals.

Public Education must be free from political interference

The Greens NSW:

32. Oppose the use of threats to withhold federal funding to achieve political outcomes such as curriculum changes, and the formulation and publication of league tables.

33. Oppose basing education policies on the ideology of consumer choice because it results in destructive competition between schools and TAFE colleges, divides communities, increases inequality, and distorts educational outcomes.

Curriculum and testing

The Greens NSW will work to:

34. Support the development of curricula that are based on sound educational principles by educational experts with appropriate community and teacher involvement with industrial representation.

35. Oppose the use of student test results in any way that allows the production of league tables. Test results, such as NAPLAN, should be used only to assess and promote benefits to student learning

36. Maintain a curriculum that is evidence-based and that is free from interference from religious and sectarian influences.

37. Ensure that changes to the curriculum are implemented only if they are accompanied by adequate funding and resources.

38. Ensure the incoming national curriculum is of the same or better standard as the current NSW curriculum.

39. Ensure the process of developing a national curriculum does not undermine the ability of schools to adapt teaching to the specific needs of their students and community.

Public ownership and control of public education

The Greens NSW will work to:

40. Oppose further privately financed public school development and call on the NSW government to fully fund all new public schools.

41. Restore public ownership and operation of the resources of public education.

42. Oppose the creation of so-called ‘independent public schools’ in NSW as they will undermine the benefits of a system of public education.

43. Oppose the sale of public education land unless an equivalent or better site has been secured to serve the same community. Public school and TAFE sites that are not currently required to meet the demand for education in their area should be held in a land bank against subsequent increases in population. Sites within the land bank should be used on a lease basis for other public purposes.

Equity programs

The Greens NSW will work to:

44. Ensure the provision of appropriate English as a Second Language (ESL) teaching services. In particular, the restoration of student-teacher ratios to their 1987 levels or better.

44. Significantly increase provision of specialist teachers and resources for students with learning difficulties and additional needs.

46. Substantially increase funding for children with disabilities so they can learn everywhere including mainstream classrooms, with the supports and accommodations to reach their full potential.

47. Ensure that schools with students who have complex needs related to disability are funded to address all of their students’ needs.

48. Ensure access by children in schools for special purposes and those attending behaviour schools to the full age-appropriate curriculum.

49. Ensure that refugee and asylum seeker children are afforded access to all forms of public education without charge of fees.

50. Support students with diverse sex, sexuality and gender identities, and for structural support and additional resources for these students, including measures to:

50.1. Address the structural disadvantages that these students face in all educational settings.

50.2. Include the teaching of sexual health for diverse forms of sexual interaction.

50.3 Recognise diverse sex, sexuality and gender identities.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education

The Greens NSW will work to:

50. Implement fully funded, long-term programs that ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children achieve educational outcomes equal to non-Aboriginal children within 10 years, build Aboriginal student self-esteem, and which affirm and empower Aboriginal identity and relationship with the land.

52. Build, in conjunction with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, the capacity and confidence of Aboriginal people and address these communities' identified needs.

Early Childhood Education

(See also the Greens NSW Early Childhood Education policy)

The Greens NSW will work to:

53. Make available to all the highest quality Early Childhood Education (ECE).

54. Ensure that government support for ECE prioritises affordability, quality and equity of access.

55. Provide two years of free public pre-school for all children, starting with the priority areas of:

55.1. Two years for all children from disadvantaged backgrounds, children with special needs and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children; and,

55.2. Initially one year for all other children.

TAFE and AMES

The Greens NSW:

56. Support the abolition of all fees and charges to learners with a priority on TAFE Access and Equity courses, Adult Basic Education, HSC courses, the Tertiary Preparation Certificate, and courses for Aboriginal students and refugees. and ensure that 100% of public VET funding goes to TAFE.

57. Are committed to the restoration of the Adult Migrant English Service (AMES) as a publicly funded, quality provider of adult migrant English education, and to ensuring that AMES programs are not put up for tender outside the public education system.

58. Reject the increasing casualisation of the TAFE teaching workforce and are committed to the restoration of high levels of permanency so that at least 80% of teachers are permanent, and the ratio of teachers to managerial staff is not eroded.

59. Support the funding of TAFE at levels adequate to meet the demand for vocational education and training, second chance and lifelong education, and education for youth at risk without compromising course quality or duration and without exploiting teachers. To this end, the Greens NSW will campaign for:

60.1. The restoration of TAFE per-student hour funding to its 1997/98 levels (in real terms).

60.2. The restoration of teaching and non-teaching TAFE staff levels to those at least of since 1997/98 with more positions where there is a need.

60.3. Recognition by governments of the excessive workloads of teachers and head teachers with action to improve working conditions and reduce individual loads.

60.4. The establishment of a Class Size Committee, with Australian Education Union representation, to determine legally binding maximum class sizes.

60.5. Restoration of teacher academic qualification requirements, and removing the Tutor-Instructor and Assessor grades, with transition paths to full professional qualifications for people employed on those grades.

60.6. Restoration of well-staffed professional TAFE units responsible for vocational and educational curriculum standards and other Central Support Units.

60.7. Protection of the quality of TAFE teaching by ensuring that all part time/casual and temporary teachers are provided with suitable teacher education opportunities of at least Certificate 4 level free of course fees, and ensuring that all permanent and long term temporary teachers receive free teacher education at degree level or higher with compensatory paid teaching release. Ensure that Recognition of Prior Learning applies to all upgrading of teaching qualifications for all permanent and Part Time Casual teachers.

60.8. The provision of improved access to literacy, numeracy,  special education and disability support.

60.10. Improved resources, class support and time allocation for TAFE teachers to prepare for and provide quality workplace educational training and assessment.

60.10. Ensure that fee free professional development with paid leave is available to all teachers including Part Time Casual teachers, including additional support for teachers in non-college workplaces.

60.11. The development of incentives to attract and maintain staff in  difficult-to-staff TAFE colleges.

60.12. Adequate support for Vocational Education with the expectation that the resources available to those courses, the class sizes and the safety standards, must conform to the best practices in both schools and TAFE colleges. Restore all actual course delivery hours to the nominal hours specified in the curriculum.

60.13. Restore and maintain full support services at college level, including speciality consultants for students with disabilities for all students who need it, and Multicultural and Outreach services.

The Greens NSW are committed to:

61. Ending the public funding of private providers except where TAFE/AMES cannot meet demand and could not do so with additional resources.

62. Tighter registration and accountability standards for private colleges, schools and other private vocational educational and training providers and the restoration of controls on any expansion of private colleges and private schools and on the credentialing and/or accreditation of their employees. The Australian Skills Quality Authority should be properly funded to enable it to place more emphasis on the quality of course delivery to students, rather than an excessive compliance ‘box-ticking’ focus, and TAFE should better supported to handle audits through the adequate provision of clerical assistance to teaching sections.

63.  Bring an end to privatisation and competitive tendering policies for TAFE, and ensure that no public funding is used to subsidise the work of for-profit training providers.

64. Restoring AMES so that it is the publicly funded, quality provider of initial adult migrant English education. Greens policies outlined above for TAFE should also apply to a restored AMES.

65. Ensuring that:

65.1. The Australian Education Union, and other unions as appropriate, are represented on the board of ASQA, TAFE Boards and governing bodies. and all other bodies which have oversight of VET and TAFE.

65.2. There are Consultative Committees operational in all TAFE Institutes or similar bodies, with proportionate union representation.

65.3. There are adequate provisions to enable the formation and operation of student unions and Student Representative Councils at TAFE.

66. rejecting the creation of other publicly-funded institutions that undermine TAFE and public schools.

67. Opposing the 2012 Council of Australian Governments determination on VET funding which has lead to the imposition of Smart and Skilled policy. Ensuring that TAFE is fully funded with non contestable funding. Contestable funding should be reserved only for those locations and provisions where TAFE is not able to provide the delivery.

68. Support the delivery of face-to-face classroom learning and practical skill building on TAFE campuses.

Universities

(see also Australian Greens Education Policy)

The Greens NSW will work to:

69. Provide full public funding of university education without the need for corporate sponsorship so as to make it free and accessible to all.

70. keep universities independent from political interference, including amending the NSW universities legislation to enshrine the right to free inquiry, critical analysis and independent scholarship.

71. defend the rights of staff to be democratically represented on university governing bodies by enshrining the rights to hold election to a meaningful number of staff positions.

71. defend the rights of students to be democratically represented on university governing bodies by enshrining the rights to hold election to a meaningful number of student positions.

72. defend the right of students to form and democratically elect representative bodies that are financially and administratively independent and subject to control by the broader student community.

73. Reject casualisation and restore secure ongoing employment with workplace justice for academic research and teaching staff in all NSW universities.

Teacher professionalism

The Greens NSW:

75. Support recognising educators for their professionalism and giving them a professional level of remuneration.

76. Support granting permanent and long-term temporary TAFE teachers compensatory paid teaching release and free course entry to complete an appropriate degree or higher level teacher education qualification, and support assisting part-time casual TAFE teachers without course costs to complete a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment or appropriate higher teacher education qualification.

77. Oppose performance based pay to teachers because of its divisive and unproductive nature.

78. Support the continuance of university provided initial teacher education at Graduate Diploma or Masters level prior to entry to the profession, and reject the introduction of short-term training to place non-teachers into teaching positions.

The Greens NSW support:

79. Increasing the salaries and status of teachers to restore them to at least 150% of average weekly earnings.

80. Enhancing respect for teachers and affirming their professional judgement and skills in the delivery of curriculum.

81. A state-wide transfer system that ensures all schools across the state are able to be staffed with suitably qualified teachers, with a similar system in TAFE. This would include compassionate, incentive and nominated transfers, and promotions positions.

82. Increased funding for continuous professional development for teachers at all levels of public education.

83. Supporting teacher training scholarships to address teacher shortages.

84. Defending the rights of teachers in public education to be represented by their teacher union organisation in collective bargaining and in consultations over industrial and educational matters and disputes.

85. Abolishing the NSW government’s legislated 2.5% wage cap for public sector workers, and unbinding the NSW Industrial Relations Commission from government policy, restoring it as the independent umpire for industrial matters.

86. Improving the process of teacher promotions such that the Department of Education can establish a promotions ‘pool’ of teachers who it identifies as suitable to work in promotions positions, and then make appointments to promotions positions as needed by drawing from the promotions ‘pool’.

Secular public education

87. The Greens NSW call on the state government to:

87.1. Oppose the placement of chaplains in NSW public schools as part of the National School Chaplaincy Program

87.2. Insist that the Federal government redirect the funding for the National School Chaplaincy Program to public schools to employ qualified welfare and family and community workers and to increase the number of school counsellors.

88. Tighten the NSW government's policy for external providers of instruction and curriculum materials in public schools to exclude any materials that discriminate on the basis of race, sexuality or gender or contains imputed religious or judgemental messages that contradict the mission of public education.

89. Oppose and end the provision of public funds and facilities that promote religious doctrine.

90. Abolish the teaching of Special Religious Education (SRE) in public schools. Until that goal is reached, ensure that SRE is only made available on an explicit opt-in basis, and that the teaching of ethics be offered as the default alternative to SRE for all students, without barriers to the delivery of ethics classes, including the withholding of information about their existence.

91. Support the continued teaching of General Religious Education in NSW public schools