Teachers to vote on NAPLAN boycott


QUEENSLAND state schools could be directed to boycott NAPLAN after Queensland Teachers' Union state council voted to ballot members on whether the contentious test should be skipped.

The Queensland Teachers' Union will shortly launch a ballot asking its more than 47,000 members if they support refusing to be involved in any work associated with NAPLAN in 2020.

If more than 50 per cent of the vote comes back in favour, members will be directed by the union to boycott preparations and also the test this year.

QTU president Kevin Bates told The Courier-Mail there were several issues with the testing which prompted the ballot.

Queensland Teachers’ Union President Kevin Bates. Picture: QTU
Queensland Teachers’ Union President Kevin Bates. Picture: QTU

"Essentially over a three-year campaign, we've tried a range of options to get real change and the assessment of the council is that there's no prospect of the campaign achieving our objectives given that the final decision will lie with the (federal) ministerial council which will only make changes through a unanimous decision and there's opposition from the federal minister for education," he said.

The union has long held concerns about NAPLAN, including the impact it can have on a student's mental health and that it narrowed the curriculum by focusing only on numeracy and literacy.

In 2018 the union also moved to ban online testing, encouraging members to even avoid attending NAPLAN online information training sessions.

This decision was reversed last year.

Mr Bates said after 11 years of testing, "we're getting the same sort of results".

Asked whether he thought parents would be unimpressed by the move, Mr Bates said Queensland had the largest rate of withdrawal in the country - meaning it had the most parents pulling their children out of testing.

"We would issue a directive to every teacher … principal at every state school to refuse to have anything to do with NAPLAN," he said.

LNP education spokesman Jarrod Bleijie slammed the move, claiming it could anger parents while insisting NAPLAN was an important measure for parents to understand where their students were at.

"Rather than the union playing politics with the program, they should be encouraging their members to look at particular areas they need to focus on in Queensland," he said.

"Parents deserve to know where the school needs to improve."

If the QTU ends up issuing a directive to members, Mr Bleijie said he would encourage schools to disregard the vote and continue with testing.

Education Minister Grace Grace and Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan have been approached for comment.