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.