Teacher unions should concentrate on workload - not curriculum design

As a Victorian teacher unionist for 25 years, I have seen the union lose membership over that period as it loses support by pushing a politically correct curriculum and social agenda to the detriment of its campaigns to actually improve industrial conditions for teachers.

A national curriculum does not need to make more work for teachers. It could make teachers’ jobs easier and more satisfying. The frequent turnarounds in state curricula do seriously distract teachers from teaching. The role of the union is to negotiate workload so that the employer realises that doing a "new" thing means not doing an "old" thing, and that planning "smart" work is better than paying for "more" work. Currently, teachers are continually being asked to work "more " to compensate for poor government planning. If we had an industrial agreement with any credibility, the government would have no alternative to being "smarter". As a Australian Teachers Union school branch president, I wish my union would represent the vast majority of its members and spend more time negotiating effective workload agreements. It seems to spend far to much time trying to further a wide range of socially "progressive" policies that are supported by a minority of teachers. The result is diminishing union membership and support in schools.

The fact is that there is NO state curriculum at all ! There are mountains of plans in "eduspeak" called guidelines and standards along with bits an pieces called "exemplars" - but NO approved courses of study in ANY subject at ANY year level that guides teachers lesson by lesson through a years instruction. The result is a "make it up as you go" smorgasbord.

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