Nursing students have had to wait six months for their assignments to be marked, amid a vocational education system that is failing students and industry, a former TasTAFE teacher has claimed.
The former teacher, who did not wish to be identified due to fear of whistleblower retribution, said organisational and infrastructure failings at the Launceston nursing campus, in the CBD, have not equipped students to practice in a modern environment.
"The current system is failing students and society. If you have ill-prepared students in the workforce, the only people who suffer are the patients," she said.
The former teacher said nursing students in 2017 were required to teach themselves anatomy and physiology, due to a lack of qualified teachers and a well documented marker shortage had lead to assignments being marked up to six months after submission, which she said was unacceptable.
"These students are vocational students, they have paid to do training in a hands-on course, but they didn't even know how they were going because they hadn't received their previous assignment," she said.
"They were paying for a course and turning up and there was no one there to engage them or teach them something as complex as anatomy and physiology."
TasTAFE chief executive Jenny Dodd stopped short on confirming the students had been left to teach themselves but said case management strategies had been implemented to "manage student assessment."
"Additional resources, including qualified nursing markers have been engaged to ensure that marking is progressed and students receive feedback in an appropriate timeframe," she said.
The former teacher said workload was the number one reason that teachers had gotten behind in their marking, due to the structural organisation of the tasks they were expected to complete.
"Above and beyond our teaching expectations we were required to complete administration tasks such as basic data entry and photocopying," she said.
"I would come into work an hour early just to be the first person at the photocopier and then would stand there for another hour completing these tasks."
She said due to that, and the increase in group meetings meant that marking always fell to out-of-school-hours work.
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Despite the challenges, the former teacher said changes had begun to occur in the last six months she was employed at TasTAFE, which was about the time current chief executive Jenny Dodd was assigned to the position.
However, she said not enough changes had been made to courses or infrastructure to ensure students had the best chance to step into a career.
"The course is assignment-laden but a lot of the techniques they are teaching are outdated for a modern nursing environment," she said.
However, she maintained the biggest losers in the vocational education system has been the students, who had their education disrupted by high teacher turnover and what the teacher called "punitive management" strategies, often directed at or about students.
"Passive aggression, punitive discipline and favouritism were all management strategies I witnessed while working at TasTAFE," she said.
The former teacher is one of a growing number of people who do not wish to be identified when speaking to the media amid ongoing scrutiny from government and related organisations.
IN OTHER NEWS:
This week, Australian Community Media, the publisher of The Examiner, joined other print, television and radio publications including Nine and the ABC to advocate for changes to Australia's press freedom laws.
It comes after the Australian Federal Police raided the homes of journalists on the mainland months after they printed stories about confidential documents they obtained from whistleblowers.
Last week, The Examiner revealed teachers and students were losing faith in the quality of education being delivered at TasTAFE due to ongoing teacher recruitment problems, along with ageing infrastructure issues.
The teacher called on TasTAFE to be more transparent with its challenges, in order to enact real change at the vocational education provider.
"Let's embrace open disclosure, make the findings of the audit and registrations reports public and make it accessible because it can be used as a quality improvement tool," she said.
Ms Dodd said the diploma of nursing was audited by both ANMAC and ASQA in 2018-19.
"These accreditation and registration processes confirm that TasTAFE is a quality provider with qualified and experienced teaching staff who deliver the program," she said.