Unpacking the class sizes clause in the certified agreement

[page added 18 Jan 2017 | [open as pdf]

The class size clause in the certified agreement

Department of Education and Training State School Teachers Certified Agreement 2016

2.1 Class Sizes

2.1.1 Schools will be funded for staffing in accordance with a student/teacher ratio based on established class size targets. The parties acknowledge the fundamental importance of class size contributing to the learning outcomes of students and the health and welfare of teachers.

2.1.2 Accordingly, the department is committed to the following maximum class size targets:
Prep, years 1-3, years 11-12…………………………….25 students per teacher
Years 4-10 ……………………………………………….28 students per teacher

2.1.3 The class size targets for composite classes are informed by the relevant year level target. Where composite classes exist across cohorts (e.g. year 3/4) the class target would be the lower cohort target.

2.1.4 Classroom teacher numbers are allocated for the purpose of facilitating class size target achievement as part of the school Day 8 staffing allocation. Classes in excess of these maximum target sizes should only occur in exceptional circumstances.

2.1.5 Where there is the possibility of class sizes in excess of these targets, the class arrangements shall be the subject of a timely, collaborative and consultative process with staff in accordance with the consultative principles contained in this agreement including through the local consultative committee (LCC) in schools required to have one.

Key elements:

  •  Schools will be funded for staffing in accordance with a student/teacher ratio based on established class size targets. As such, the class sizes targets are, and should be treated as maximums in the first instance.
  • Classes in excess of these maximum target sizes should only occur in exceptional circumstances.
  • Where there is a possibility that a class may exceed the target, the class arrangements shall be the subject of timely, collaborative and consultative process with staff.

What is an exceptional circumstance?

Exceptional circumstances are defined as rare, unusual, atypical or unexpected.

Examples of exceptional circumstances may include:

  • enrolments late in the year, 
  • availability of suitable facilities, 
  • the need to continue the curriculum, 
  • issues pertaining to health and safety, 
  • inability to recruit a teacher to the location at the time the vacancy exists

What does timely consultation look like?

  1. Principal and Union Reps meet to discuss the possibility of classes in excess of the relevant targets.
  2. Options are developed that consider composites, multi-age, school structures, trends, infrastructure, changes within the community, complexity, impact of workplace reforms. Contingencies are planned for, if in the event, a class exceeds the target.
  3. Feedback is sought from staff and proposals adapted based upon these considerations, including active consideration being given to putting in an over-allocation request through the region.
  4. The model is presented to the LCC (the requirement to consult regarding classes in excess of targets is contained in the certified agreement, and the potential for classes in excess of targets to impact on working conditions means the LCC needs to consider the proposal).
  5. Adoption.
  6. Review and further consultation if circumstances change.

Why are the class size targets important?

  • Improved teacher/student interactions/outcomes.
  • Workload implications for teachers.
  • Teacher and student health and safety.

What things might the school consider to avoid exceeding class size targets?

  • Curriculum offering 
    • is the preference for a diverse curriculum offering placing pressure on class sizes?
  • Low-demand senior high subjects  
    • is the preference for a diverse curriculum offering placing pressure on class sizes?
  • Staffing flexibility and delivery of allocation enrolment growth (post-Day 8) 
    • have we used our flexible staffing in such a way it has impacted on class sizes? 
    • have we reviewed the workplace reforms annually to consider their impact on conditions and their continuation?
  • Special classes (e.g. iPad, excellence) 
    • have we established special classes that result in classes in excess of targets in other areas?
  • Team teaching 
    • can class sizes be addressed through team teaching processes?
  • Have we adhered to our enrolment management plan and considered the impact of enrolments out of catchment on class sizes/space/facilities etc?
  • Is a community preference for no multi-age/composite classes creating over-sized classes?
    •  Possible strategies include providing additional curriculum support for teachers of composite classes and parent/community education to proactively address perceptions and possible “fear” of composite classes?

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