Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 122 No 2, 10 March 2017, p10


Unpacking your conditions: The non-contact time clause in the certified agreement 

by Kate Ruttiman, 
Deputy General Secretary (Member Services)

The new award and the certified agreement include strengthened provisions around the delivery of non-contact time (NCT).

The key principles of NCT (or preparation and correction (P&C))

  • The award entitlement for full-time primary and special school teachers is two hours; secondary teachers (full-time) are entitled to 3.5 hours (210 minutes).
  • NCT must be provided in blocks no less than the length of a school teaching period in secondary, and half an hour (but preferably an hour) in primary and special.
  • All classroom teachers are entitled to access NCT, and NCT lost due to planned school activities should be replaced/made up.  
  • NCT is to be used for preparation, planning and correction.
  • The use of the award entitlement to NCT is at the teacher’s discretion.  
  • Use of NCT above the award entitlement is at the principal’s discretion.

What is a planned school activity?

These form part of the school calendar and are known, e.g. excursions, school camps, sports carnivals, school assemblies, graduations, mandatory PD, QCS, exam blocks, practice fire drills and practice lock downs. Unforeseen activities, such as evacuations, visits by Parliamentarians, critical responses (eg: lock downs) are not included, neither are sick leave, carer’s leave, student free days, professional development (if requested by the teacher rather than by the school), industrial relations education leave and public holidays.

What happens if a teacher is required to attend a planned school activity?

If the teacher is going to lose award entitlement to NCT, there should be prior discussions on how/when it will be replaced. Solutions are not the sole responsibility of school leaders, and it is important that teachers explore/suggest solutions in partnership with them.

NCT does not have to be made up in the week that it is lost, but the agreement in primary and special schools is that it should be made up by the end of the term in which the loss occurs.  In primary and special schools, a minimum of one hour’s NCT must be provided each week if the full entitlement cannot be provided.  

There is no such arrangement in secondary schools, although the QTU is proposing replacement of NCT within the school term and schools should initially work on this basis.
A lost NCT process should be agreed following consultation through the local consultative committee (LCC).  It should include the timeframe in which it will be replaced and options for how (NB. the arrangements for replacement of NCT need to be determined in advance.

Steps to assist in replacing NCT

  • Ensure a data capture system is in place in the school (the QTU is negotiating for an enhancement to OneSchool, but this will not be immediately available).
  • The teacher/school leader identifies the amount of award NCT that has been/will be lost.
  • Teachers and the school leader explore options for how to replace it. Existing practices already employed by some schools include:
    • going home early upon return from camp
    • day off class, on site, either covered by a HOD/HOC without a teaching load or internal relief/TRS
    • enabling “banked” NCT to be accessed in lieu of attendance at other school events, e.g. athletics carnivals, school assemblies
    • no supervision during exam blocks
    • engaging a supply teacher in lieu of using internal relief lessons 
    • planning for excursions that includes strategies on minimising the impact on NCT
    • tracking NCT using OneSchool to ensure transparency and fairness
    • accessing the TRS safety net
    • only offering excursions that contain an assessment element – i.e. analyse the scope of excursions offered
    • use of flexible student free days
    • assigning an FTE to provide additional relief at the start of the school year.
  • Following consultation, email the agreed process to the relevant teacher(s).

What happens if agreement cannot be reached?

If the school has an agreed process, agreement should not be unreasonably withheld.
The process should be provided to staff in electronic form and hard copy at the start of the school year and reviewed by the LCC annually. In this way, if issues arise they can be addressed through changes to the process. 

If the school cannot replace NCT because it has not been sufficiently resourced, the QTU Organiser will work with members to seek additional resources.

Kate Ruttiman,
Deputy General Secretary (Member Services)