30 August 2017 | Download as PDF

In this issue: Directive to withdraw from NAPLAN Online SRT and item testing | Contribute to the Principal Health and Wellbeing survey | PPCR update | School disciplinary absences | State Budget | I4S | Legal issues | Staying Well - A QTU strategy

Directive to withdraw from NAPLAN Online SRT and item testing

While the Union acknowledges the significant planning and preparation that school leaders and teachers in 173 pilot schools have expended to enable students to participate in the national NAPLAN Online testing set down for September, State Council has now determined that the QTU will withdraw support for the introduction of NAPLAN Online.

This decision mirrors that taken at the most recent meeting of the Australian Education Union (AEU) Federal Executive, which also decided to withdraw support from the introduction of NAPLAN Online. Education unions across the nation have determined to lobby federal, state and territory ministers to end the development and use of NAPLAN Online. While State Council also determined that there is a need to review the entire NAPLAN program, the immediate focus remains on NAPLAN Online.

The QTU is also concerned about a lack of transparency regarding the involvement of commercial interests and so-called edu-business in the development and delivery of NAPLAN Online and associated products.

Members in the pilot schools have been invited via Newsflash to hold a meeting to discuss the following resolution:

That the QTU members at <name of school> request a directive from the Union to withdraw support for NAPLAN Online and cease involvement in school readiness testing, item trialling or any related preparation program for NAPLAN Online.

Upon receipt of advice that QTU members have voted in favour of seeking a directive, the QTU will issue a directive to members in that school and they will cease involvement in any NAPLAN Online related activities.

It must be noted that no statewide ban is currently in place. QTU members at your school will need to meet to consider this motion on a school by school basis until such time as a statewide ballot is conducted.

Further information will be sent to members via Newsflash in due course.

Contribute to the Principal Health and Wellbeing survey

The 2017 Principal Health and Wellbeing survey is open at http://www.principalhealth.org/au and if you haven’t already, please take the time to contribute.

The survey contributes to a longitudinal study of health, safety and wellbeing of school leaders from 2011. Its results are an invaluable resource in addressing issues for school leaders. The international project is led by Associate Professor Philip Riley from the ACU.

The QTU adopted the first five recommendations from the 2016 survey report as part of the QTU Principal Support and Involvement Strategy adopted at Conference in June 2017.

Promotional Positions Classification Review (PPCR) update

The QTU’s initial submission to the review is available on the QTU PPCR page on the QTU website.

Thank you to the 400+ members who contributed views to the QTU through the website. QTU Officers have also participated in member meetings across the state. These will be an on-going feature of the Union’s processes.

The department is commissioning Deloittes to undertake a national and limited international scan of promotional classification structures.

On Friday 25 August, the QTU met with DET to discuss emerging trends that have arisen from the submissions received so far and the next phase of the PPCR. The QTU will continue to provide updates to members through email and the QTU PPCR webpage.

School disciplinary absences

School leaders have raised issues regarding the pressure being placed on schools to reduce school disciplinary absences. Demands in addition to those contained in the statewide policy are being placed on schools when suspending or excluding students. These additional requirements have imposed extra work and left members feeling unsupported.

The QTU has sought clarification from the department around two key principles arising out of these matters.

a) Process anomalies

The QTU is seeking a consistent application of the statewide process. If school leaders follow the process required, additional expectations should not be placed on them in making their decisions. Additionally, ensuring the safety and wellbeing of the staff and other students of the school must be a factor in their consideration and in the consideration of DET when reviewing any decisions to exclude.

b) Online safety

The use of online spaces to abuse school leaders and teachers is becoming more prevalent. While there is legislation in place which indicates what protection principals and staff can expect when abuse occurs on school premises, it is not so clear where online, public media spaces are concerned.

The QTU has requested that DET works with the Union to develop a process that enables support for school leaders and staff when faced with online violence and abuse, including a review of legislation to ensure that any form of violence toward employees is not acceptable and that schools have access to legal recourse in these circumstances.

Where a recommendation to suspend or exclude a student is not supported, the QTU, on request from members at the school, will issue a directive to withdraw instruction from the student. Members do not have to compromise their health or safety, or that of other students.

Please refer to the brochure “QTU assistance in dealing with student behaviour management”.

State Budget

A summary of key features of the 2017-18 State Budget is available here. The summary covers IT support, STEM grants to primary schools, the Mentoring Beginning Teachers program and master teachers.

Investing for Success (I4S)

The release date for information about I4S funding in 2018 is still not known.

The state government has committed to maintaining and indexing funding for 2018 and 2019 (approximately $250m per year), notwithstanding the uncertainty created by the Turnbull government’s shambolic funding plan.

The distribution of funds will occur in accordance with the allocation negotiated with the Palaszczuk government for 2016. This means that the only variations should be as a result of enrolment changes or the student population profile. This provides a level of certainty for schools that will allow schools to commit to programs and will support higher levels of permanent employment.

If allocations, when made, are not consistent with 2017 funding, please contact the QTU.

Legal issues

The QTU has recently written to the department concerning delays in investigations, decisions to suspend without pay and the associated processes. The Union has also recently successfully prosecuted a judicial review concerning a suspension decision in the Supreme Court.

There are continuing risk areas for school leaders concerning mandatory reporting of child abuse and the use of credit cards. It is worthwhile refreshing your memory on the requirements associated with each. The QTU is currently defending members for failing to immediately report suspect child abuse.

The QTU is aware of push-back to principals concerning over-reporting. The Union raised that issue at the time of the change in the criteria for reporting. Until the criteria change, you should err on the side of over-reporting rather than risking legal or disciplinary action.

A specific booklet on principals and the law is being prepared by the QTU and Holding Redlich for publication later this year.

Staying Well – A QTU strategy to respond to member workload and wellbeing issues

School leaders and Union Reps in schools should have received an email from the General Secretary earlier this week encouraging them to engage in the QTU Staying Well Strategy. A focus of the strategy in 2017 will be the QTU Workload and Wellbeing Awareness Month (WWAM) which will occur throughout November 2017.

Information about the strategy and relevant resources are accessible on the QTU web page “Staying Well”.

 Authorised by Graham Moloney, General Secretary, Queensland Teachers' Union