THE Australian Education Union has demanded that class sizes be cut to 20 pupils.
State schools are in crisis, it warned this week. They are suffering staff shortages and the morale among existing teachers is dangerously low due to stress, high workloads and low pay.
The union called on state and federal governments to take immediate action to improve teachers' wages and working conditions. It demanded lower class sizes, accredit teacher education courses and re-introduce teacher registrationto ensure only qualified staff are employed in government schools.
Union president Sharan Burrow said young Australians were "voting with their feet" and choosing not to enter the profession in sufficient numbers to meet the demand.
"All state school systems still deny the teacher shortage, yet almost every week they advertise across state borders for vacant teaching positions," she said.
The union will campaign for at least 10 days' paid leave a year for teachers' professional development.