Teachers to resist performance regimes

Gippsland’s leading education union representative has vowed to resist any moves by State Government to pressure Latrobe Valley schools into adopting tighter performance assessment regimes.

Australian Education Union Gippsland region organiser Jeff Gray said recent comments by Teaching Profession Minister Peter Hall, that teachers would be subjected to more rigorous performance assessments, should not be interpreted as widespread changes to the way teachers were currently assessed.

The new enterprise bargaining agreement, reached in principle on Wednesday afternoon, indicated teachers would only progress through to next pay levels if they passed performance assessments, held annually in April and May.

“Rather than an automatic progression through each of those salary levels, as has been the practice in the past, there will be a rigorous assessment of performance, and people will need to deserve their promotion to the next salary level,” Mr Hall said in parliament last Thursday.

“Therefore if a teacher performs well, as we expect the majority will – perhaps not the great majority, but the majority – then they will progress through the salary levels.”

However Mr Gray said unions would resist any government pressure to change performance assessment programs.

“I don’t see anything in the agreement yet that there’s been a significant change to the performance cycle, while it’s true (pay progression) will not be automatic, they have no right to change how the performance assessment structure works,” Mr Gray said.

“If the department were to put pressure on principals to save money through that means, we will certainly be protesting against that.

“It could be that some principals will tighten those things up, certainly in larger schools it could be become a bit more rigorous.”

Liddiard Road Primary School union representative Peter Anton said he held some concerns over the changes, as there were practical issues which could disadvantage teachers who otherwise had equal abilities.

“There is a concern among the members this could pit teacher against teacher; if I’ve got a grade of smarter kids and you’ve got kids of a lesser ability, when that comes out in performance assessment, I am going to get paid more, and this process doesn’t take that into account,” Mr Anton said.