Senate backs longer hours for secondary school pupils
Tuesday 26 June 2012
The upper house of parliament on Tuesday narrowly voted in favour of changes to extend the number of compulsory teaching hours for secondary school pupils.
The new legislation, bringing in a 1,040 hour teaching year, is opposed by teaching unions. Opposition MPs also say it is unnecessary.
The extra hours, teachers say, will be impossible to meet with current funding and staffing levels, meaning pupils will be 'locked up' for hours without supervision or lessons.
Teachers are also angry that their official summer holiday will be cut from seven to six weeks. They argue much of the long break is taken up with preparation and meetings, and that they need time off to recover from the pressures of the job.
Education minister Marja Bijsterveldt says reducing the summer holiday will allow teachers to better spread work currently done as overtime and avoid pressure peaks.
After the vote, Van Bijsterveld said she was pleased the measure had become law. ‘We now have to enact this legislation in careful consultation with the education sector,’ she said.