ADVOCACY

Advocacy


Contents:

[ Return to top ]


ACTA Submission to AMEP & SEE Evaluation – December 2014

ATESOL ACT members contributed to  the Australian Council of TESOL Association’s submission to the federal Department of Industry in December 2014

ACTA Submission to the adult programs SEE and AMEP review 2014

The AMEP Evaluation Report was released by the Department of Education in July 2015.

[ Return to top ]


ACTA Adult Working Party submission for the National Foundation Skills Workforce Development Project – October 2013

A small group of ATESOL ACT Committee members contributed to the ACTA submission for the National Foundation Skills Professional Standards Framework Project.  Please see below for a link to details of the project and the final ACTA submission.

Dearest councillors,

I am proud to announce that ACTA has provided a response to the consultation paper Scoping a Foundation Skills Professional Standards Framework. The submission was prepared on behalf of ACTA by the ACTA Adult Working Group, incorporating feedback from members throughout the country. The response and background information is available on the ACTA website – http://tesol.org.au/Issues/ADULT-ESL-NEWS-AND-ISSUES

I would to congratulate the Adult working group for their continued diligence in the important project. Please distribute to your association’s Adult sector representatives, reminding them that their input into such projects is as vital as it is welcome.

Kind regards,
Adriano

Adriano Truscott
President ACTA

[ Return to top ]


ACTA NAPLAN Submission & GONSKI – 2013

In 2013, ATESOL ACT has also provided opportunities for our members to contribute to the ACTA NAPLAN submission. The ACTA NAPLAN Submission is now on ACTA’s website: http://www.tesol.org.au/Advocacy/EALD-ISSUES-SCHOOLS/NAPLAN; please take time to read it.

Members were also given an opportunity to participate in the push to get all jurisdictions to sign up to the GONSKI reforms. These reforms will ensure that there will be continued support to EAL/D students across Australia.

[ Return to top ]


Other Advocacy and Policy Development in 2012

On the local ACT level and nationally through the Australian Council of TESOL Associations (ACTA), ATESOL ACT continued to contribute to policy development in 2012, most notably the ACT Languages Policy, targeted EAL/D funding (see below), the Language, Literacy and Numeracy Program and the Adult Migrant English Program.

Through ACTA, we provided input to the LLNP Discussion Paper Creating a more flexible LLNP in 2013-16. To read the ACTA Position Paper, go to: http://www.tesol.org.au/news/LLNP-Discussion-Paper

Along with other ACTA affiliates, the ATESOL ACT Executive and members provided feedback on the draft of the ACTA policy report “The Current AMEP Contracts and their Impact on Programs, Learning, Teaching and Professional Standards”. The most notable achievement this report so far has been that providers were permitted to reinstate continuous enrolment. This change alleviated some of the most acute problems documented in that draft but others persist. We understand that a revised version of the paper is in preparation. Further comments for consideration towards a final report can be sent to ATESOL ACT and we will forward them to ACTA. Special thanks to Helen Moore for her contribution to ATESOL’s policy input during the year.

[ Return to top ]


School Autonomy press release – 2012

ATESOL ACT put out the following press release on School Autonomy:

ESL teacher association gravely concerned about increased school autonomy in government schools

The Executive Committee of the Association of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (ATESOL) in the ACT is gravely concerned about the impending move to greater school autonomy.

English language learners already lack adequate support in ACT schools. Many ESL positions are part-time. Teachers often work piece-meal across several schools. They are unable to develop coherent programs or support students whose English is well below the level needed to participate in mainstream schooling.

Accountability for ESL funding allocations is already extremely weak. Once the money reaches schools, it is often diverted to other programs or to start new programs that are not directed to supporting English language learners.

With increased school autonomy, even less accountability will be required. Part-time, itinerant ESL teachers are not in a good position to influence a principal’s decision-making, demonstrate best practice in ESL programming or argue on behalf of English language learners. These disadvantaged students and their parents will also have no influence on how programs are funded within a school.

We call upon the ACT Government to retain and increase earmarked funding for ESL provision for all students who fall below the English proficiency level necessary to participate in schooling in the ACT.

[ Return to top ]


ATESOL supports the review into funding for EAL/D (English as an Additional Language or Dialect) students – 2012

Currently 40 per cent of eligible EAL/D students are not receiving targeted English language support in ACT Public Schools. Early in 2012 ATESOL members attended a meeting held at HBCTL and provided input into the review of funding. Committee members from ATESOL ACT also met with AEU representatives and local politicians to discuss the lack of funding and resourcing for EAL/D students in our system and the long term implications not only for the students but their families and the community as a whole. Our continued interaction with all political parties meant that EAL/D was kept on the agenda and we believe there is now a solid commitment for additional funding in this area. The way that the funding is allocated has still not been determined. If it is not used to specifically target these students, we will need to continue this work. It will remain at the top of our priority list and will look forward to your continued input on this matter.

[ Return to top ]


Support for English Language Learning in ACT public schools – October 2011

The Honourable Andrew Barr
Minister for Education and Training
Legislative Assembly for the ACT
GPO Box 1020
CANBERRA ACT 260124th October 2011Dear Minister Barr,On behalf of the Association of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages ACT (ATESOL ACT), I write to express our grave concern about the on-going decline in support for English language learning by students from non-English speaking backgrounds in ACT public schools.Students who are assessed as requiring ESL support are a significant proportion of the ACT government school population (approximately 12 per cent) and their numbers are growing. An ‘average’ non-ESL student is considered to be at Level 4 on the 0-5 rating scale that is the ACT’s official measure of English language proficiency. Currently, the funding for ESL learners cuts out when they are rated at Level 1.75. The result at present is that only 52% of the students identified in need of ESL support in ACT government schools attract any ESL funding. This continued lowering of the official English Language Proficiency Ratings that attract ESL funding has been a concern for some time, and was in the subject of recommendations 8, 11 and 12 of the Legislative Assembly Standing Committee on Education, Training and Youth Affairs Report: Inquiry Into The Educational Achievement Gap in the ACT (May 2010).We now understand that the Education and Training Directorate (ETD) plans to cut one of the two ESL Executive Officer positions from their Central Office at the end of 2011. These two Officers are responsible for specialist ESL professional development for the entire ETD workforce. They also set up, implement and co-ordinate ESL programs across the public school system for students in preschool to Year 12. As ESL provision now stands in the ACT, these Officers’ practical assistance, advice and in-service programs (on curriculum, teaching strategies and materials, assessment, cross-cultural and community-related issues and a host of related matters) are the main source of on-going specialist ESL knowledge and training for Introductory English Centre teachers, ESL teachers in schools, mainstream classroom teachers, school leaders and administrative staff. The on-going reduction in the provision of ESL tuition for new arrivals, and failure to appoint adequate numbers of appropriately qualified ESL teachers has put these Officers’ services increasingly in demand. Their workload is well beyond the time and resources that might be reasonably expected of two Officers. Halving this support would reduce ESL provision in the ACT to what could fairly be called tokenism.ATESOL ACT therefore calls on you as Minister for Education and Treasurer to reverse this decision and ensure that funding to the ETD enables both these Officer positions to be retained if not increased.Further, we request that you address the problems identified in this letter and by the above-mentioned Inquiry as a matter of urgency. We are seriously concerned at the continued decline in your Government’s commitment to learners of English as a second/other language. We cannot understand why this trend should continue under a government that claims to be committed to access and equity.Yours faithfully,Marina Houston
President
ATESOL ACT

cc. Hon Amanda Bresnan, Chair, Standing Committee on Education, Training and Youth Affairs Report: Inquiry Into The Educational Achievement Gap in the ACT, May 2010.

Hon Steve Doszpot, Shadow Minister for Education & Training

Hon Meredith Hunter, Parliamentary Leader of the ACT Greens and Greens Spokesperson for Education and Training

Click here to read response from Minister Barr

 

[ Return to top ]


ACT Languages Policy Feedback – February 2011

The ATESOL ACT fully supports the initiative of developing a comprehensive languages policy for the ACT. The ACT government can truly be applauded for developing such a first of its kind comprehensive Languages Policy.It is significant that the ACT Languages Policy aims to cover ALL languages, INCLUDING English. Thus, the section on ‘Economic Life’ opens up with acknowledgement that ‘employment and participation in the economic life of the ACT requires ability in the English language’.However, the Policy does not make explicit reference to the government’s commitment to provision of teaching support for learners of English as an additional language. The only commitment the ACT government makes in this section is as follows:
The ACT government will pursue opportunities for promotion and provision of English language education to students and teachers from other countries’.The ATESOL ACT therefore is calling on the ACT government to commit to provision of ESL teaching that would allow our residents to develop English language skills adequate for effective participation in social life, workforce and further education. We believe that the Languages Policy needs explicit statements about the government’s commitment to systematic ESL teaching provision to people who are learning English as an additional language. Thus, children and adolescents need to be guaranteed access to Introductory English Centres and systematic ESL support in school, to ensure their ability to engage with the mainstream curriculum and facilitate further study and employment.We note that the ACT Multicultural Strategy 2010-2013 states:In addressing the principles of access and equity, the ACT Government also recognises that it is important for Canberrans who do not speak English well or at all to have opportunities to learn English.Specifically, the following actions are planned:

  • Continue to operate the Introductory English Centres in ACT Public Schools.
  • Continue to support the teaching of English as a Second Language (ESL) in ACT Public Schools.

It would be beneficial and appropriate to include reference to the Multicultural Strategy 2010-2013 and its commitments in the ACT Languages Policy.

In relation to adult learners of ESL, adequate ESL teaching provision needs to be guaranteed in order to facilitate their access to the legal system and various government services as well as education and employment.

We hope that the new ACT Languages Policy can incorporate our suggestions.

Best wishes,
Marina Houston (Aidman), MEd, PhD (UniMelb)
President, ATESOL ACT
28th February 2011

[ Return to top ]


Submission into the ACT Legislative Assembly Inquiry into “The Educational Achievement Gap in the ACT”

On Thursday 25 June 2009, the Legislative Assembly for the ACT referred to the Standing Committee on Education, Training and Youth Affairs for inquiry and report the extent of existing socio-economic differences in educational engagement and achievement in all ACT government and non-government schools, with particular reference to:

  • educational engagement and outcomes for students of all interests and abilities, with reference to any implications of cultural background, including Indigenous and ESL students;
  • engagement and achievement rates within the ACT student population including those related to national and international assessments, including:
    • average outcomes;
    • proportion of students below national and international assessment benchmarks; and
    • proportion of students achieving at the highest and lowest proficiency levels;
  • qualitative assessments of educational experiences for students from different backgrounds;
  • current programs and initiatives designed to address educational achievement gaps, including resources allocated and relevant experiences in other jurisdictions; and
  • any other related matter.

ATESOL ACT’s submission to the Inquiry can be downloaded as a PDF document

For other submissions and the Hansard record of our representatives’ appearance before the Inquiry, go to: http://www.parliament.act.gov.au/committees/index1.asp?committee=117&inquiry=822&category=13

[ Return to top ]


AMEP Research Centre closure – October 2009

The AMEP Research Centre has provided research and Professional Development, publications and information services to the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) nationally since 1989. Recently, the Commonwealth Department of Immigration and Citizenship announced that funding of the AMEP Research Centre would finish at the end of 2009.  The following letter was sent to the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship in October 2009:

Senator the Hon. Chris Evans
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600.Dear Minister,Re: Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) Research CentreI write to you representing the Association of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (ATESOL), ACT. Membership of this Association includes the majority of teachers in the Adult Migrant English Program in the ACT.The Association has learned that the AMEP Research Centre will be closed at the end of this year. We understand that new models are in process of development to support research and development for the AMEP.Our members who teach in the AMEP have a considerable stake in the work carried out by the AMEP Research Centre. The Centre is responsible for on-going maintenance of the Assessment Task Bank, which is fundamental to the whole structure of curriculum, assessment, reporting and accountability in the AMEP. Our members also value the resources and various professional development activities for which the Centre is responsible. The Centre is really the only means by which AMEP managers and teachers in the ACT meet and interact with other AMEP teachers around Australia, which is essential to maintaining and improving their professionalism. Our Association’s submission to the AMEP Review last year stated:

Members greatly appreciate the PD offered by the AMEP Research Centre and believe it should continue. The Centre ensures a high level of professionalism in PD offerings, access to local and international developments, and coherence and direction in the PD program. … Members also greatly value opportunities provided by the AMEP Research Centre for participation and mentorship in practically oriented action research projects. … Members would welcome opportunities to learn about a greater variety of research, including more cutting edge and scholarly investigations relevant to their field, at both the AMEP Annual Conference and other professional conferences. Members do not understand why there is no AMEP conference this year and believe that annual conferences are essential.

Overall, the Centre has been crucial to the high quality of the AMEP in delivering English language and settlement programs to newly arriving adult migrants.

On behalf of ATESOL ACT, may I request that the national body to which we are affiliated—the Australian Council of TESOL Associations (ACTA)—is a full participant in planning how the various roles played by the AMEP Research Centre are to continue and be improved? The ACTA President, Rosie Antenucci, has written to you in this regard.

At the local level, our request is that ATESOL ACT be included in consultations and information as the process continues.

Yours faithfully,

Marina Houston (Aidman), MEd, PhD,
Vice President,
acting in the absence of Lona Thwaites, President, ATESOL ACT.

Cc: Rosie Antenucci, President, Australian Council of TESOL Associations.

[ Return to top ]


Bilingual teaching programs in Northern Territory – June 2009

One of the main concerns on our political agenda has been the bilingual teaching environment in Northern Territory, where Aboriginal languages has been reduced to a bare minimum.  Last week a delegation from Alice Springs took more than 50 letters of concern to three federal ministers: Minister for Education Julia Gillard, Minister for Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin and Minister for the Environment Peter Garrett. Letters came from all over the country. Our ATESOL ACT committee also wrote a letter on behalf of our members, expressing our whole-hearted support for a bilingual approach and our concern that English learning needs now come at the expense of education in Aboriginal languages. See below for full text of our letter. As a consequence the minister for environment has now commenced drafting an Indigenous Languages Action Strategy. For more info on indigenous issues go to http://www.aiatsis.gov.au

LETTER TO MINISTERS10 June 2009The Hon Julia Gillard MP, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Education, Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister for Social Inclusion
The Hon Jenny Macklin MP, Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs
The Hon Peter Garrett MP,  Minister for Environment, Heritage and the Arts
PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRADear Deputy Prime Minister and Ministers,On behalf of the Association of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages in the Australian Capital Territory (ATESOL ACT), I am writing to you to request your strong support for bilingual programs and approaches in the Northern Territory.  This letter will be delivered to you by representatives of the Ngapartji Ngapartji group in their meeting with you.ATESOL ACT whole-heartedly endorses quality indigenous language and bilingual approaches to meet the learning needs of indigenous students. We therefore deplore the undermining of these approaches by current policies in the Northern Territory.Supporting indigenous students’ English learning need not come at the expense of the indigenous languages. All reputable and long-standing second language acquisition research clearly demonstrates the multiple benefits of additive bilingualism in promoting individuals’ cognitive, social and cultural development. This research also shows that maintaining the child’s mother tongue can significantly enhance his/her learning of additional languages, including English. Further, there is no evidence to show that removing support for the child’s mother tongue translates into gain in any other language, including English.ATESOL ACT understands that data from literacy testing by the NT Department of Education showed that indigenous students in schools using bilingual approaches achieved higher standards in the Years 5 and 7 national literacy benchmark tests than did their counterparts in ‘like’ English-only schools. This evidence supports claims for the advantages of bilingual approaches over English-only approaches for indigenous students, and suggests that enforcing English-only approaches will do nothing to assist these students and is likely to further erode their educational performance.In addition to enhancing literacy and numeracy outcomes, mother tongue maintenance has been linked to improvements in mental health. Conversely, research also suggests that where English has replaced or sufficiently weakened mother tongues in indigenous communities, speakers cannot access traditional epistemologies (that is, fundamental elements in indigenous value systems and understandings of the environment, and the ways in which values and knowledge are passed on) and that language loss can play a significant role in depression, hopelessness, mental breakdown and even suicide.ATESOL ACT therefore strongly supports the teaching of indigenous languages alongside English and the use of quality bilingual approaches and programs. A balanced approach is key to unlocking indigenous students’ potential in remote communities where their languages are still in use. It will enhance these students’ participation and success in education, not least in English. It will provide a solid foundation from which they can look to the future, make choices and contribute to Australian society overall.

Regards,
Lona Thwaites,
President ATESOL, ACT

See more on this issue on ACTA’s website: http://www.tesol.org.au/Issues/Indigenous-Education

[ Return to top ]


Increase in quality and funding of ESL teaching – August 2008

In late 2008 we did some intensive lobbying at the door of the ACT Minister for Education, Andrew Barr, for a much needed increase in quality and funding of ESL teaching. We expressed ATESOL ACT’s serious concern over present trends which we feel have reduced ESL teaching to a level that is neither professional nor responsible towards children from an ESL background. The Minister took note of our concerns and we will continue to be vigilant in this area and seek the necessary changes.

[ Return to top ]


AMEP Review – August 2008

On 23 July 2008 the Department of Immigration & Citizenship released a Discussion paper on the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) as part of their review of this program. The discussion paper can be accessed on: http://www.immi.gov.au/living-in-australia/delivering-assistance/amep-review-paper.htm

The ATESOL ACT submission to the Review can be download as a PDF document

[ Return to top ]