47 pilot schools in NSW are now trialing the flexible staffing arrangements already in place in the ACT, Tasmania and Victoria. This devolution of staffing and budgets to schools has seen cuts and trade offs which have worsened school library staffing.
“Loftus Public School in Sydney’s southern suburbs is a pilot school. When its teacher-librarian position became vacant last year, the principal decided not to fill it. As described to Federation, this ‘change to the staffing mix’ involves employment of a part-time school administration officer and a temporary teacher who is paid at the lower end of the incremental salaries scale.
On January 28, Federation wrote to the Department of Education (DET) to oppose what can only be regarded as an experiment to show that schools no longer need teacher-librarian positions. Federation argued that ‘this decision undermines the provision of Teacher Librarians to NSW public schools and denies the right of all students to be taught by suitably qualified specialist teachers. In this 21st century age of ever advancing knowledge, information and technology, it is unacceptable that the Department would allow a specialist teacher position such as Teacher Librarian to be unfilled. This has clear ramifications for every Teacher Librarian in NSW public schools.’
DET’s reply of February 3 confirmed that pilot school principals are being allowed to dispense with positions determined by state-wide formulae: ‘In accordance with the guidelines for Determining the Staffing Mix for the pilot…the principal reviewed the school’s structure in accordance with the School Plan and developed the staffing variation.’
Read the rest of Gary Zadkovich’s article in the NSW Teachers Federation online journal, Education. DET has yet to state what educational improvements are expected to result. On the contrary, we know research tells us that qualified teacher librarians help improve student literacy and achievement. In NSW this has been acknowledged with DET sponsorship of TL training and staffing of school libraries outside of the established classroom staffing. NSW has been a model in this regard internationally. Support NSW teachers in fighting deregulation of staffing and resourcing in public schools. Write to your local MP now.
Here is the related article from Sunday Telegraph, 14 Feb 2010
Principals begin axing their own teachers
SCHOOL principals have begun axing teacher positions under sweeping powers given to them by the federal Government.
A Sydney primary school has abolished its teacher librarian position, as part of a pilot scheme designed to give principals more control over school-based decisions.
This landmark case has raised fears that hundreds of other staff will lose their jobs.
Loftus Public School principal Martin Sinclair opted not to replace his retiring teacher librarian last year. Instead, he employed a part-time clerical assistant and a temporary, entry-level teacher.
The school is one of 47 participating in the program, which lets principals make more decisions on issues such as recruitment, staffing mix and budget. The two-year trial is part of the national partnership agreement on improving teacher quality.
The Loftus case is the first example to emerge of a school abolishing a teaching role, but teacher unions fear the move could set a dangerous precedent and lead governments to absolve themselves of responsibility.
NSW Teachers Federation deputy president Gary Zadkovich said it had ramifications for every teacher librarian in the State.
He warned that it could lead to school counsellors and careers advisers losing jobs.