19 January 2017 No. 01-17
[download as pdf]

Ensuring working conditions

Welcome to the 2017 school year.  We hope all members benefitted from a well-earned break.

At the start of this year, the QTU is going back to industrial basics – making sure that new conditions (and old) from the 2016 enterprise bargaining agreement are being implemented in schools. There are a number of improvements as a result of last year’s negotiations which it is important to ensure operate in practice as well as on paper.

Below are links to three QTU publications about core working conditions:

Class sizes

Class sizes are a core element of teaching and learning conditions. The 2016 agreement restores the requirement that class size targets be exceeded only in exceptional circumstances.  The Palaszczuk government has, as of this year, appointed an additional 580 teachers over and above numbers needed for enrolment increases, as part of a pre-election promise to reduce oversized classes.  This now more than replaces 519 positions cut by the LNP government in 2013. A further 295 teachers (over enrolment requirements) are due to be employed in 2018 to complete the additional 875 teachers election promise.

Non-contact time

The new agreement also re-establishes the right for non-contact time to be used at the individual teacher’s discretion for a range of classroom activities specified in section 2.2 of the agreement.  This was the basis on which it was originally provided, but over the years it has been eroded by additional demands (without additional time).

The agreement also includes entitlements to non-contact time for HODs and HOSES for the first time.  Previously, these were only guidelines rather than entitlements.

The agreement also includes compensation for lost non-contact time for pre-planned school activities in particular circumstances, which will be detailed in a joint statement with DET in the near future.  This is an existing entitlement in primary and special schools but new in secondary.

Professional issues

There were a number of important professional issues wins for Queensland teachers in 2016, including the implementation of new curriculum.

Senior secondary syllabus redevelopment continues

At the end of 2016, the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority announced further work would be conducted on a group of syllabuses to support their delivery in a composite class setting using what is currently known as the Year A/Year B model. The QTU has been particularly concerned at potential reductions in subject offerings or unacceptable workloads in smaller high schools.  This is a significant development and is in part a result of the advocacy of QTU members. The full list of the group of syllabuses is available in QCAA memorandum number 090/16

The QCAA has also confirmed that the program of professional development to support implementation of the new syllabuses will commence in semester two, 2017 as scheduled.

The second drafts of the Stage 2 syllabuses will be released for consultation and feedback from 16 January to 10 February 2017.  QTU members should check the QCAA website for further details and updates regarding preparations for the new system.  The QTU strongly supported the change to a 2019 implementation date for the new system, following the extended syllabus consultation.  The level of consensus about a sensible change in timing was very gratifying.

Additional support for high schools – prep ‘half-cohort’ entering senior secondary in 2018

The Union has been working closely with the Department of Education to ensure that schools with a smaller than normal cohort arising from the introduction of the prep year in 2007 will be not be disadvantaged by the short term drop in enrolments.  The department has now finalised a model of support for schools, which is now being considered by the government.  An announcement giving affected schools confidence regarding resourcing is expected early this term.

Australian Curriculum implementation

Under the new timeline for implementation of the Australian Curriculum negotiated with the government, schools must have commenced implementation of all remaining learning areas/subjects by the end of 2020.  There is no order in which the curriculum must be implemented, and this is a decision to be made at the school level.  It must be remembered that curriculum implementation refers to all aspects of the teaching and learning cycle, including familiarisation, planning, teaching, assessing and reporting.

The implementation of new curriculum has the potential to impact on teacher workload, and so changes to curriculum or the introduction of new learning areas should be the subject of workplace consultation with QTU members.  Consideration should be given to the professional development and other resourcing required to effectively implement the curriculum.  It is important that no teacher be required to implement more than one new curriculum learning area or subject at a time, unless this has been negotiated at the school level and QTU members involved in implementation are satisfied with the support being provided. 

Everything C2C is now available at c2c.eq.edu.au.  The website provides access to all curriculum planning resources, the multi-level digital guides for multi-level classrooms and C2C for students with disability.

The new C2C Version 8 consolidated units for English and mathematics — Unit 1 materials for prep – year 6 are now available, and years 7–10 will be released during term one. These consolidated sequences of learning have been developed to show how the eight units for English and mathematics can be adapted to six and four respectively. Prep continues to have four units for both English and mathematics, but the number of lessons has been reduced.

New Unit 1 materials for prep to year 6 humanities and social sciences will be released in term one, with remaining units progressively released.

C2C units, including those aligned to the Australian Curriculum Version 7.5 and prior, continue to be available in OneSchool and will remain available throughout 2017.  Teachers can continue to use the full potential of OneSchool functionality for curriculum and assessment planning.

Two major EB projects

The pilot accreditation process for highly accomplished teachers and lead teachers is starting in the trial regions of Far North Queensland and North Coast.  Expressions of interest opened on 16 January.  The process will lead to statewide implementation and an Industrial Relations Commission work value assessment to establish salary levels in the first half of 2018.

The review of the promotion classification structure, the first in 25 years, has also commenced.  The process will lead to negotiation of new pay levels in 2019.  An initial meeting has been held and draft terms of reference produced.  Last time this process took four years.  The two year timeframe for the current review is ambitious, but achievable. 

Permanency and workload

Two priority areas of QTU work identified in the last membership survey are permanency and workload.  Rates of temporary employment have been increasing, partly as a result of schools purchasing additional positions.  The QTU‘s aim and the agreement with DET is to maximise permanent employment in both teaching and promotional positions. 

Teacher workload remains a problem, notwithstanding the views of federal MP Andrew Laming. The QTU has been addressing workload through EB negotiations (class sizes, non-contact time, consultation) and joint statements with DET (data, collegial engagement planning).  2017 will see further discussion and action at a school level to reduce/minimise workload, in part drawing on UK developments around data, planning and marking.

Other 2017 events

School funding arrangement between the Commonwealth Government and the states will be re-negotiated in early 2017.  The QTU and interstate colleagues want a needs-based resourcing model, the full Gonski funding (roughly three times the current $240m in Queensland) and no nasty conditions (e.g. contract, performance pay).  The QTU will be campaigning at a state level and nationally. 

A state election is likely to be held in 2017, more probably in the second half of the year.  The QTU will be pursuing education, industrial and social claims in the lead-up to the election, both on our own and with the Queensland Council of Unions.

But wait there’s more….

There is more happening, but that’s not for now.  Best wishes for the year ahead and stay tuned for updates on these and many other issues.