Minister for Education James Merlino launched the package yesterday, which includes:
- $41.7 million in financial incentives, including up to $50,000 to encourage teachers to work in hard-to-staff positions and schools, and yearly retention payments of up to $9000 for three years to encourage teachers to remain in these positions for longer.
- $5.6 million for employment-based pathways into teaching, so high achieving university graduates and those with career experience can learn-on-the-job as a teacher, while simultaneously studying for postgraduate teaching qualifications at university.
- $41.5 million to support Victoria’s best school leaders to take on the most challenging and specialised roles. This will see more than 40 executive principals employed to take on the most complex school leadership roles in Victoria, while nine additional ‘Turnaround Teams’ will work to drive school improvement.
- $25.2 million to recruit, train and support learning specialists in every Victorian government school.
- $68.4 million to extend Professional Learning Communities to all Victorian government schools.
“This investment is improving quality in our education workforce — and it’s the biggest investment of its kind in this state’s history,” Merlino said.
“Great teachers change lives. That’s why we’re working so hard to attract the best people to teaching and supporting them to stay in our classrooms.
“Investing in our workforce is absolutely critical to ensure we get better outcomes for students, as we continue to make Victoria the Education State.”
Meredith Peace, president of the AEU Victorian Branch, said that the package was a “positive first step” towards ensuring that all students are taught by qualified teachers and have access to the range of subjects and supports they require.
“We know some schools have difficulties in attracting staff to fill vacancies, and with a rapidly increasing student population, this is likely to get worse. Investing in the workforce is a positive first step in finding solutions to this problem,” Peace said.
However, the union leader noted that further resources are required to address the workload crisis facing school staff.
“Workload is the underlying critical problem which contributes to staffing shortages and attracting teachers into leadership roles …The 2016 ACER workload study showed teachers are working on average 53 hours a week, principals on average 60 hours a week, and at least 50 per cent of support staff cannot complete required work within their paid hours,” Peace said.
“…(the) Government needs to go beyond meeting the demand for teacher shortages and employ more staff, so that teachers can spend more time focusing on teaching and learning and principals can be educational leaders rather than administrative and compliance officers.”
Peace said the union also welcomed the funding to support the new learning specialists in public schools, and hailed Merlino’s announcement as an important signal to the state’s public educators.
“The Morrison Government has continued to ignore the needs of children in our public education system by making the State Government sign onto a dodgy bilateral funding agreement that delivers most of the money to Catholic and independent schools that have the least need.
“Today’s announcement by the Victorian Labor Government is a positive step that tells our school staff that they are recognised and valued for the important work they do,” Peace said.