Sleeping dragon, not so hidden agenda

Over the last term, the QTU has been advising members of the attacks on the profession resulting from the state government’s plan for education: Great Teachers=Great Results.

This plan is the sleeping dragon of the Queensland Government. While the plan states that the majority of the changes will not be implemented until 2015 (when we are commencing negotiations for a new certified agreement), it also identifies that trials of changes will take place in 2014.

Those proposals to be trialled include a performance appraisal system, performance bonuses and contracts for school leaders. In essence the government is attempting to introduce its reforms by stealth and QTU members should not be fooled into believing that it is genuine in wanting to quarantine these changes until after EB negotiations in 2015. Members should not participate in any trial of this plan that undermines the current industrial arrangements that we fought for only last year during our EB7 campaign.

The QTU has been clear with the government that it does not accept its rhetoric that there is a teacher quality crisis in Queensland – in fact Queensland Teachers=Quality Teachers.

The plan is designed to do nothing more than undermine the good work teachers do and to pit them against each other.

GT=GR proposes to introduce a performance appraisal process rather than continuing to support teacher and school leader development through the Developing Performance Framework. It also calls into question the application process for experienced senior teacher and fails to recognise the contribution that teachers who choose to stay in the classroom make to the children that they teach.

Additionally the government proposes to place school leaders (principal and deputy principals) on fixed-term contracts, creating the potential for instability in school leadership and attempting to remove the focus on instructional leadership to business leadership.

If the proposed performance bonuses are introduced, they will achieve nothing but pitting teacher against teacher and principal against principal. The pool for bonuses will be finite and principals will be left to decide who should be awarded the bonus payments, based on a performance appraisal process that will be designed to “measure” performance on things such as student outcomes.

The plan also fails to understand that the state is diverse and that rural and remote schools need to be supported.

This plan demonstrates the government’s lack of understanding of the communities in which QTU members teach or their professional engagement. The plan demonstrates the government’s ignorance of the developing performance processes, the professional standards of teaching, the diversity of the state and the desire of Queensland communities to have strong, stable school leadership.

It is time for us to claim back the profession. We need to send a clear message to the government that we will not accept ill-conceived plans that fail to support the profession and that present a proposition that there is a teacher quality crisis in Queensland. It is time that we stand up for the profession and send a very clear message to the government that Queensland Teachers = Quality Teachers.

Kate Ruttiman
Deputy General Secretary

Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 118, No.7, 4 October 2013, p13