Guidance officer update

For some time, the QTU has been working closely with guidance officer (GO) and senior guidance officer (SGO) members to address a range of matters of concern to them. This article is an update on how that work is progressing.

Guidance Review Working Party

Last year, the QTU became aware that the department was convening a Guidance Review Working Party. With some urgency, on 24 August, the General-Secretary wrote to the Director-General requesting formal QTU representation. The first formal meeting, at which the QTU was represented by Executive member and Guidance Officer Perry Anderson and myself, occurred on 26 August. The working party is time limited, with an initial phase of six months. With this in mind, the meetings of the working party have occurred essentially fortnightly. The QTU representatives have maintained that Queensland state schools, students and parents should have access to a high quality guidance service delivered by qualified guidance officers who are registered teachers and have classroom experience. This position is not contentious. At the time of writing, a draft consultation paper based on the work of the working party was being finalised and it is expected that engagement with a range of stakeholder groups will occur in term two.

Workforce demand - guidance positions

The QTU has been working with acting GOs to ascertain what opportunities there are to have long-term acting positions advertised, and to advocate for further positions to be advertised on the basis of trend data. The QTU has been seeking clarification in relation to what processes apply when offering acting guidance positions, particularly where a teacher has been relieving above level as an acting GO for years. In exploring these matters, it became obvious that approaches differed significantly statewide. Furthermore, there has been growth in the number of teachers working as guidance officers in temporary engagements. The appointment of more guidance officers, either temporarily or substantively, bodes well for the regard schools have for the work of qualified guidance officers. The goal is to ensure that permanent vacancies are identified and advertised, or provide an opportunity for a permanent guidance officer who has requested a relocation.

To ensure that the QTU (and for that matter the department) has a clear picture of the growth in guidance positions, both regionally and statewide, the QTU wrote to the department in late October requesting data to clarify the pattern of GO employment arrangements and trends. The department committed to providing this data in a user friendly format by no later than Friday 11 November. Despite that commitment, the QTU has had to actively pursue the matter, with the data finally being provided to the QTU on 17 March. At the time of writing, a cursory review indicates that the anecdotal reports of growth in guidance positions holds up. Any trend that evidences there is ongoing and sustainable growth in GO positions should open up opportunities for positions to be offered substantively. It also provides an opportunity to establish transparent processes in relation to teachers who have been relieving above level in acting GO positions. Further, the data is likely to indicate that active consideration needs to be given to the GO supervision load of SGOs, which could consequentially lead to more SGO positions.

A future journal article will provide an update.

Review of the classification structure (EB8)

One of the major pieces of work to arise as a consequence of the new certified agreement is the review of the classification structure, which includes all classified positions including those of GOs and SGOs. Meetings will be held throughout the year, with a reference group established that will provide input to the working group. It is important that GOs and SGOs stay informed in relation to the progress of the review and opportunities for engagement and input. Updates will be provided through Member Newsflashes, Union Rep Updates and through the Journal.

Senior guidance officer teleconference

On 22 March, the QTU convened a statewide teleconference for SGO members, with an agenda including an update on the Teaching in State Education Award – State 2016 and the coverage of SGO members within the modern award, an update on the nature of the review of the classification structure, and the opportunity to re-form a statewide SGO special interest group. Just prior to the teleconference, the QTU received a formal reply from the department in relation to SGO award coverage. The correspondence indicated that Workforce Relations would be exploring the issues raised within the context of contemporary industrial arrangements. There are some complexities in relation to existing employment arrangements which the teleconference provided an opportunity to canvass with members.

Kevina O'Neill
Assistant Secretary - Services

Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 122 No 3, 14 April 2017, p26