I visited Don College today for a period of four hours and met with many staff to hear their views on the Tasmania Tomorrow changes, and discuss what would be the best way forward to tackle the unacceptable retention and qualifications level in Tasmania.
If David Bartlett had done this many months ago and listened to the real issues and concerns of educators and students he would have ended up with a much better reform structure as well as adequate trouble shooting measures to deal with any problems as they arose.
It was quite clear from my visit today that staff are terribly offended by the Premier’s constant reference to the issues they have raised as mere teething problems. The serious concerns being expressed go to the fact that the reform structure is simply not right
There is clear support for a full independent review of Tasmania Tomorrow as called for by the State Liberals some time ago, that includes direct input from staff and students about what the problems are, what the solutions could be and what the future structures could look like.
I continued to hear from teachers that the new organisations have no heart, particularly in relation to the Polytechnic. In other words, although the aim of the Polytechnic sounded good in theory, there are more impediments than pathways in teaching and learning under this structure. Every time teachers try to respond to the needs of students, they hit a brick wall; there is no responsiveness in the system.
The current one-size-fits-all structure, the vertical line management system and the lack of devolution of real decision making and resources to campuses were all highly criticised.
I also heard concerns about all the wrong messages that the use of the word Academy versus Polytechnic conjures up. We know that the system was never intended to be elitist, but it is seen that way.
Moreover, there is clearly ongoing frustration with the Shared Services system and although staff welcomed the announcement of new ITC equipment, they said that it will not address the software system issues with a great deal of money having been wasted as a result of the Government attempting to make changes without testing out the systems needed in the first place.
These are highly dedicated staff who are committed to the students they teach, but their frustration and stress levels are palpable. It is unacceptable that they have been thrown into this system in this way.
Whilst they have ‘change managers’ in there, it is like trying to put your finger in the dyke and these managers cannot fix what has always been an inappropriate structure.
Sue Napier MP Shadow Minister for Education