Two head teacher roles at Bega TAFE are at threat of being deleted, according to the NSW Teachers Federation.
On Tuesday, March 6, NSW Teachers Federation representative Rob Long protested the funding cuts made by TAFE NSW, alongside current Bega TAFE students and representatives from Bega Labor, the Community and Public Sector Union and the South Coast Labour Council.
Mr Long said the two head teacher roles in question – from the business studies and community service courses – were in a group of 20 head teacher roles that would be cut on the South Coast.
“We want to be reassured by TAFE NSW and Andrew Constance that there will be no redundancies at this campus,” he said at the gate of Bega TAFE.
“Two head teacher roles will go, but we don’t know yet if that means they will be made casuals, made redundant or if they will be moved to another campus altogether.”
Mr Long said the full effects of the TAFE NSW’s Smart and Skilled restructure would not be known until April, but they were already having a disruptive effect.
“Its not easy on teachers, or their students, to be based in Cooma and giving classes in Bega,” he said.
“This eliminates the students ability to drop into a teacher’s office when they need to, those informal lessons and advice are such an important part of teaching.”
I have three kids, two have already started school, I’m in no position to move into the city for an education.Kirby Hayward, Bega TAFE student
Kirby Hayward has re-enrolled after a 13-year hiatus and has noticed a significant difference from her first TAFE experience.
“Back then I studied full-time and came to TAFE four days a week, now I’m only here one day a week and I do the rest of my work from home,” she said.
Ms Hayward has to drive from her home in Narooma for TAFE classes in Bega because her course, community services, isn’t offered at the closer Moruya campus.
Ms Hayward said she would prefer more class time with her teacher, but has to rely on email communication instead.
“It’s hard not having a teacher, or even just being in a regular class environment, to bounce ideas off each other,” she said.
Since deciding to go back to school, Ms Hayward is coming to terms with the fact that being a regional-based student means she misses out on face-to-face teaching.
“I’m going to continue my studies with a law degree next year because I want to train and get qualified, but I have to do it by correspondence because of where I live,” she said.
“I have three kids, two have already started school, I’m in no position to move into the city for an education.”
The reality of these job cuts is students are under pressure to complete courses in a shorter amount of time with less help from their teachers.Leanne Atkinson, Bega Labor spokesperson
Bega Labor spokeswoman Leanne Atkinson said protecting government funded training was crucial for regional populations.
“Private education institutions are not going to replace TAFE in regional areas like ours, there just aren’t the numbers to make it financially attractive for them,” she said.
She added that cutting teachers and contact hours was unfair on students.
“The reality of these job cuts is students are under pressure to complete courses in a shorter amount of time with less help from their teachers,” she said.
“Online learning excludes a lot of students, many don’t work well online in the first place, that’s why they come to TAFE for hands on, practical education.”
Mr Long wanted Member for Bega Andrew Constance to guarantee that no redundancies would be made at Bega TAFE come next month.
Mr Constance said some positions at Bega TAFE have changed or shifted focus based on community and industry need.
While he said there has been no change in the delivery of the community services course at Bega between 2017 and 2018, head teacher roles will be discipline based under the new structure, so TAFE NSW can utilise the strength and expertise of its team members to deliver quality education and training for students.
“By grouping these functions with other leadership positions within SkillsPoints and TAFE Digital, head teachers were provided the opportunity to apply for roles across these area during this phase of the One TAFE modernisation,” Mr Constance said.
He also described NSW Labor’s “constant denigration of TAFE” as “absurd” and stated they don’t care about vocational education.