The meetings were held state-wide at 10.30am yesterday morning with more than 40 local teachers attending the Moree meeting at the Max Centre.
Each meeting was video linked to the rally in Sydney’s Town Hall for an hour-long address by Teachers’ Federation representatives and teachers.
The Town Hall was at capacity with thousands of teachers who went on strike to protest the reforms.
Teacher’s Federation organiser from Sydney, Ted Kenny, then addressed the Moree teachers.
The meetings come after weeks of campaigning from the Teacher’s Federation against the proposed ‘local schools, local decisions’ reforms for public schools.
The proposed reforms will hand over responsibility for staffing and budget management to school principals, allowing them to make the decisions for their schools.
However, in the stop-work meeting Mr Kenny described the policy as “budget driven” and aimed at “cost cutting” rather than the interests of the students.
He said the policy removed guarantees for class sizes, teacher to student ratios and
Mr Kenny said it would mean less permanent positions would be available for teachers, and specialist and executive teaching positions would not be safe.
He said it also abolished incentives for teachers to come to regional areas and schools which may have a problem attracting staff.
As part of their campaign the Teachers’ Federation launched the “putting students first” charter.
The charter sets out the guarantees teachers want for their schools including guaranteed class sizes, funding levels, no loss of permanent teaching positions and the maintenance of specialist and executive positions.
“We called on the State Government to endorse the charter but they not only refused to sign it they also refused to even enter into negotiations about it.
“As far as the State Government is concerned it’s just going to happen and they expect teachers and parents to just shut up and deal with it.”
Member for Barwon Kevin Humphries said the government did not have a responsibility to enter negotiation with the Federation.
“The charter we signed was with the public in 2011, not the Teachers’ Federation,” Mr Humphries said.
“There will be no change to work conditions or practices. It just means that principals will be able to spend their money locally and won’t need to go through four levels of bureaucracy to buy a postage stamp,” he said.
However teachers feel this could have a serious affect on Moree public schools.
“The question will be whether schools in areas like Moree will be able to recruit and retain teachers needed in the future when there are no incentives to come to these schools,” Mr Kenny said.
“What we don’t want to see is a return to a time when it was virtually impossible to get staff in these areas. Every student irrespective of location should have access to qualified staff and that will not happen under local schools local decisions.”
Following the meeting, the teachers voted on whether the Federation would continue with the campaign against ‘local schools, local decisions’.
All teachers present unanimously voted in favour of continuing the campaign.
Mr Kenny said the Teachers’ Federation have vowed to continue the campaign against the reforms for “as long as it takes”. They will discuss the next action to take at the Teachers’ Federation conference on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday next week.
“We do not rule out further industrial action, but the timing of that will be decided by our members,” Mr Kenny said.