Our union has rejected the federal government’s proposed changes to the mutual recognition arrangements for teacher registration, in a joint submission with the Queensland Teachers’ Union (QTU).
Our union does not support the Automatic Mutual Recognition of Occupational Registration Exposure Draft Legislation as its processes would diminish minimal registration requirements and the standards of the teaching profession.
While the existence of a set of Australian Professional Standards for Teachers, and a uniform Australian Curriculum, would imply that the introduction of automatic mutual registration is feasible, there are currently significant jurisdictional differences in the depth and breadth of working with children checks.
Other concerns include significant variations in teacher certification processes – in both mandatory registration and advance professional certification – and curriculum development and delivery, which makes practice across jurisdictions more complex than the exposure draft can encompass.
Child protection requirements essential
IEU Branch Secretary Terry Burke said in the broadest sense, our position is that teacher registration operates most effectively at a state and territory level, given the specific frameworks in operation in each jurisdiction.
“We are not satisfied the proposed changes will preserve essential, existing child protection provisions,” Mr Burke said.
“While we recognise the capacity for Ministers to declare exemptions from automatic mutual recognition and request notification of intent to work in their jurisdiction does ensure some protection of children’s safety, there are nonetheless significant differences in the breadth and depth of working with children checks from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
“For example, in Victoria, teachers are exempt from working with children checks, but in other jurisdictions, such as the Northern Territory, a complete working with children check is required in addition to teacher registration.
“In Queensland, the Queensland College of Teachers requests an Australian criminal history check from the Queensland Police Service (QPS) or a Blue Card verification from the relevant agency if you hold a current Queensland Blue Card.
“Given the central importance of maintaining child protection provisions, it is essential the standard for working with children is maintained at the highest possible setting.
“In that context, we also support the proposal for automatic application of suspensions or cancellations of registration across all jurisdictions in response to criminal, civil or disciplinary proceedings.”
Differing certification and curriculum delivery
“A further complicating factor may also emerge from systems of certification at Highly Accomplished and Lead Teacher levels (HALT).
“At present, there is some variation across jurisdictions in terms of the body responsible for assessment of certification applications and conferral of HALT status.
“Given certification is often linked to enhanced industrial provisions, it is important any system of mutual recognition allows teachers to transfer not just their registration, but also their HALT status.
“It is also important to note that, although there is a common Australian Curriculum from Foundation to Year 10, there is variation in the way that curriculum is delivered in various states.
“In Queensland for example, the Australian Curriculum itself is taken as the basis for classroom teaching, but in Victoria, the Australian Curriculum is delivered in a modified format which incorporates the Australian Curriculum, but alters this to reflect uniquely Victorian priorities and standards.
“Similarly, there is considerable variation in approaches to education in Years 11 and 12.
“Although most states now provide graduating students with an Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR) score, there is substantial variation in how that ATAR is obtained.
“In practice, any teacher working across two or more jurisdictions would be delivering a substantially different curriculum depending on the state in which they were practising.
“On balance, given all jurisdictions already have systems for mutual recognition, and registration fees are relatively modest, our union is calling for teachers to be included within a category of occupations prescribed under the Mutual Recognition Act to be excluded from the Automatic Mutual Recognition scheme.”