So Partners for Success is gone: where next?

After 17 years of supporting partnerships to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, the Partners for Success (P4S) strategy is no more.

The strategy focused on supporting partnerships between schools and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities to improve outcomes for students through a range of targeted and innovated strategies. These included a range of innovative HR-focused initiatives including:

  • a targeted P4S selection process for both new appointments and teachers on transfer
  • a special P4S induction program
  • a different permanent appointment process for teachers in P4S schools.

However, recent discussions with the department have indicated that P4S is no longer in operation.

How did we get here?

In March 2015, the Indigenous Education Alliance and Gulf Principals asked the QTU to request “an immediate comprehensive state-wide review of the “Partners for Success” strategy, which includes recruitment, selection and support for teachers appointed and/or relocated to work in identified remote Indigenous communities/centres”.

The review commenced in 2015 and a working party was established. The QTU was represented and nominated a number of P4S principals to attend working party meetings in September and November 2015. It was the QTU’s understanding that the review was going to recommend a stronger central office governance structure with the goal of ensuring the P4S program remained relevant and effective, with feedback from key stakeholders placing a focus on future recruitment and selection and induction strategies being largely school-based.

However, 2016 came and went, and despite repeated calls for the review’s report, the QTU did not receive a formal response from DET. As a result of the department’s failure to formally finalise and share the review outcomes and the fact that key pillars of the P4S HR initiatives were no longer in place, the QTU indicated to DET in December 2016 that P4S appeared not to exist, and that if this was the case, then DET should formalise its position. As DET had walked away from the other strategies/initiatives, the QTU was no longer prepared to support the P4S teacher permanent appointment strategy, under which teachers were appointed in a temporary capacity (for one term) pending a P4S best fit assessment.

On 21 February 2017, the QTU took an opportunity to raise P4S with the new Acting Assistant Director-General, Human Resources and restated its request for a formal response. On 8 March at the QTU/DET HR meeting, the QTU was presented with a short project report: Partners for Success: Recruitment Selection and Induction Strategy Review and Trial of Proposals for 2016 (Version 1), which up until that date had not been provided, and an appendix to that report, Partners for Success: Recruitment, Selection and Induction Strategy Report, which is more detailed.

The final paragraph of the project review report identifies that if P4S were to continue into 2017, governance matters would need to be a priority, effective recruitment action would need to underpin promotion and marketing materials from stakeholders wishing to influence employment decisions, that co-ordinated recruitment can deliver desired outcomes re: the identification and referral of teachers but needed to ensure localised input into such decisions. Further, that localised and differentiated approaches to staffing decisions are possible within a governance framework that provides sufficient oversight and direction.

It is worth noting that the word “if” is used in relation to P4S. Section 3 of the 2015 report notes that P4S was originally a much broader program, but over time with changes in government and other programs subsuming the original P4S focus (Solid partners, solid futures), the only remnant bearing the P4S name were the recruitment strategies. The report identified P4S as an artefact, but restated the specific importance of an effective recruitment, selection and induction strategy for remote and rural schools.

It is clear from the QTU’s engagement with the department that P4S is gone, no “ifs”, no “buts”. A formal letter confirming this is yet to be received, but is expected. The QTU remains strongly committed to working collaboratively and strategically with the department in relation to implementing and invigorating initiatives that have the intent of attracting capable teacher candidates and specialist staff for teaching positions in remote and rural schools.

Kevina O'Neill
Assistant Secretary - Services

Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 122 No 3, 14 April 2017, p11