Some students across South Australia will be bringing home end-of-term report cards without any written teacher comments about their progress and ability, attitude or areas for improvement, following an ‘outrageous and deeply offensive’ Australian Education Union directive designed to disadvantage students and parents.
Union bosses from the AEU are again urging their members not provide parents and children any insightful, informative commentary on student reports beyond a subject’s grade, as part of the union’s industrial action in response to the Government’s Enterprise Agreement Offer.
It is one of several union “work-to-rule” actions introduced in schools and preschools – including limiting staff meetings, refusing to take additional relief lessons, and answering emails in worktime only – and comes as 46 schools (or units within the school) close an hour early on one day this week.
Treasurer Rob Lucas urged the union to call off its rolling stoppages and not to unfairly disadvantage students and families.
“For the union bosses to be encouraging their members to withhold helpful, informative commentary about individual students’ progress is outrageous, absurd and deeply offensive to parents and children alike,’’ said Mr Lucas.
“Parents will be rightly upset and frustrated that they and their children seem to have become collateral damage in the union bosses’ hunger for industrial action.
“In fact, this has got to be one of the most outrageous examples of union bosses’ industrial action I’ve seen by refusing to provide any meaningful information to a parent about how their child is progressing at school.
“Ultimately, it’s the children who are going to suffer.
“Last term, in one particular school in Adelaide’s north, a mother had a child bring home a report card without any commentary, while the other – whose class teacher is not a member of the union – had the usual descriptive report card.”
In attempting to defend the work-to-rule action, AEU union boss Howard Spreadbury told FIVEaa breakfast radio this morning that report writing was an onerous and time-consuming task and teachers needed to take back “control”.
“…what teachers and support staff and leaders are doing in fact, is taking some control over the ever-expanding work that’s being required of them by the system. So, it’s a means of taking back some control in relation to doing their job, but also … the excessive workload that they face,” Mr Spreadbury told FIVEaa.
“These written reports take many, many hours … it takes a lot more time than just writing one sentence on each subject for each student.”
Mr Lucas said no amount of industrial action would give taxpayers any more money to spend on salary increases beyond the 2.35% offered to teachers, and 3.35% offered to principals and preschool directors. This is a generous offer given that inflation is currently only 1.4%.
The Government, however, has indicated its willingness to negotiate on conditions, such as providing additional assistance within the classroom.
The next hearing before the SA Employment Tribunal will be held on Thursday.
“An independent conciliator has been appointed and we call on the union bosses to call off their industrial action, sit down with the Government and try to resolve this dispute in the interests of students, parents and grandparents.”