Local hire and fire: fact or fiction?

KBates-Thm-6.jpgSome media outlets over the weekend 11-12 February unfortunately became somewhat confused about how the Federal Government’s school autonomy proposal would be implemented in Queensland. Other media outlets chose not to pursue the story any further once they became aware of the facts, which are as follows.

  • The QTU and all other major stakeholders (including parents and principal groups) have been involved in consultation around the Queensland Government’s “Local Decisions: stronger school communities” proposal since late 2011. The discussion paper was released only after consultation with all stakeholders. (QTU Newsflash No. 18-11; Media Release 21 November 2011).
  • No decisions about the scope of the policy have been made.
    Consultation is open until 30 March 2012 and QTU members and the community can have their say on the Department’s website here.
    QTU members can provide responses to the discussion paper individually or coordinate a response on behalf of all QTU members at their schools or branches.
  • Each state will determine the extent of autonomy. Industrial issues, such as employment processes and wage rates, remain the sole responsibility of the states: the Federal Government has no jurisdiction over these matters and clearly recognises this fact.
  • Critically, under the heading “Managing our people” in the discussion paper there is no mention of anything about “firing” teachers, but only more local input into hiring, including early offers to final-year student teachers. Realistically, much of this is already happening. Local school input into the desired mix of skills might be fine, as long as it does not threaten Queensland’s teacher transfer system.
  • Models of local decision-making which involve effective workplace consultation (through LCCs) supported by significant additional funding, such as is already the case in Low SES NPA schools, could realise the benefits of the Federal Government’s autonomy agenda without compromising essential industrial and educational policy frameworks. The discussion paper looks to build on the great things already happening in Queensland schools, many of which are far in advance of the southern states.
  • The LNP’s alternative “Independent Public Schools” policy announcement does not respect industrial issues, reeks of the 1997 “Leading Schools” agenda of the last Queensland Coalition government (particularly single line budgets) and was developed without any consultation with stakeholders.
  • Since the LNP failed to consult with state school teachers or principals, the QTU is currently seeking members’ views on the IPS policy of the LNP via this survey.

Kevin Bates