The change was a decision to cancel the registration of all professional development providers.
The decision to cancel the registration of providers had undoubtedly come about after questions were raised in Parliament early in 2020 by Mark Latham about some professional learning courses. The Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning, Sarah Mitchell, called for an immediate review of professional learning by the NSW Education Standards Authority, which saw the scrapping of up to 42,000 courses.
Latham later gloated on Twitter that he had succeeded in “cleaning out” these courses.
This move is offensive to both teachers, who are not seen as professionals in their own learning, able to choose what is best for their learning, and their students’ learning without political interference; and to the professional development providers who worked hard to prepare quality professional learning experiences, only to see them scrapped. This raises the question: who is setting education policy in NSW, and to what end?
The timing of the decision is crucial here, and most concerning. Much has been made by politicians and other media commentators about the essential role that teachers play in society, and in 2020, this took on a far more crucial role as the world was thrown into uncertainty due to COVID-19.
Teachers were quick to shift to remote learning and ensure that no child was left behind, once again showing how hard we work, and how professional we are. The assurances from NESA that people have until February 5 to complete and evaluate all registered professional development provides little solace, as the start of the school year brings with it many challenges and other mandatory compliance work.
Whilst highlighting mandatory areas of future professional development seems promising, this will ultimately lead to a reduction in professional learning experiences being offered. Simplifying professional learning to those elements will reduce the level of professional trust that is held in teachers to be able to determine what they see as in the best interest of themselves and their students.
It is claimed that “key stakeholders” were consulted during the internal review process for this move, yet I am dismayed that many key stakeholders claim that they were blindsided by this decision. Greater consideration should be given to teacher voices, considering that we have a major role in the implementation of the new policy, which directly affects students’ futures.
2020 has shown just how essential we are, and we deserve to be treated as such.
So, I ask: whose profession is it anyway?
*This is an opinion piece. They are my personal views and do not reflect the views of any organisation I am associated with.