So called school autonomy “reforms” in NSW will threaten the security of employment of over 60,000 public school teachers across the state.

School principals are being offered a $40,000-$50,000 funding bribe and given the power to control more of the school’s budget. The aim is to dismantle the centralised staffing system and cuts costs.

From Term 4 (November) this year, principals will be given the “autonomy” to refuse every second placement under the centralised staffing system. This will effect not just teachers who have accumulated transfer rights through years of service, especially at hard to staff schools, but also teachers forced out of schools due to declining enrolments.

It means the end of job security as displaced teachers will have no guarantee of another placement. Job security has been important factor drawing quality staff into teaching.

As part of the reforms, principals will ultimately become responsible for making cuts to save the government money. The Teachers Federation has pointed to government aims to cut $250 million a year from schools to achieve 2.5 per cent in cost cuts. A report on teacher costs prepared for Treasury by PricewaterhouseCoopers argues the moves can be used “to pursue an efficient staff cost level”.

With the NSW Liberals’ real intentions published in black and white, it’s time to unite teachers in action against the government’s austerity drive. The Federal government’s Gonski review shows that more funding, not cuts and blame shifting, is required in our schools.

John Morris

Canterbury-Bankstown NSWTF Branch President

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