Kevin Bates
QTU President

President’s comment 18 September 2012 

Uncertainty, not autonomy, remains the issue

Today’s announcement by the Queensland Government of the first 26 schools to become Independent Public Schools (IPS) has provided no more information on how the scheme will operate.

So the QTU’s concerns remain that the lack of detail continues to compromise school communities’ ability to make truly informed decisions on the scheme.

There are no guarantees on how teachers’ and principals’ working conditions will, or will not, be protected. There is no clarity on which departmental policies will, or will not, have to be followed. There is no explanation about how removing up to 120 schools – many in high-demand areas - from the existing teacher transfer process will, or will not, affect staffing across the state. There still can be no confidence that the extra resources provided will meet the increased workload.

Queensland state schools have historically had more autonomy than those in other states; for example, Queensland principals have financial delegation up to $250,000, compared to only $5000 for principals in New South Wales. Much of Queensland schools’ flexibility has been delivered through the teachers’ certified agreement, particularly around school-based decision making – ironically, one of the 21 conditions that the Government wants removed from the agreement and made into a matter of ‘policy’. School-based decision making has provided the model by which schools can make decisions to best serve their local needs, including modifying the staffing profile, while protecting education professional’s working conditions and ensuring local consultation is central to the process.

The question remains for the Government – if it considers aspects of IPS such as “cutting red tape” and providing direct communication between IPS principals and the Director-General beneficial, why not deliver those benefits for all state schools?

The QTU will continue to seek answers from the Department and the Government, and will continue to support our members in all Queensland state schools.

Kevin Bates