QTU President
Kevin Bates

President’s comment 19 November 2012 

Professional pay vs performance pay – chalk and cheese


When the policy of “reward payments for great teachers” was announced by Julia Gillard in August 2010, the QTU was clear that the scheme was political gimmickry with no real value in retaining experienced teachers or in fairly rewarding them for their work. 

This is how the QTU responded on its website to the announcement on 9 August, 2010:

9 August - one-off 10 per cent of salary bonuses under the banner of a new National Partnership Agreement for the top 10 per cent of teachers in 2014 (after another election), with performance judged on a nationally consistent, transparent and equitable performance management system. 

QTU response - pays lip service to the notion of great teaching, then slides straight into the trap of how performance can be measured, based on a mistaken notion that school populations are in any way “consistent”. Fails to address long-term valuing of the profession. The existing NPA system is far more efficacious in providing funding in areas of need. The QTU will be pursuing a genuine professional pay scheme as opposed to a gimmicky bonus scheme in enterprise bargaining negotiations in 2012 – two years before the proposed ALP scheme comes into play. The ALP is going backwards. This scheme offers less and is a worse process than that offered by then Federal Opposition leader Kim Beazley in 2006. It falls well short of Business Council of Australia proposals in the BCA’s 2008 report, Teaching Talent – the Best Teachers for Australian Classrooms.”

Not much has changed since then (except that we have just completed the 2012 EB negotiations which had to focus more on fending off Queensland Government threats to working conditions and processes around annual increments, with no political will shown to embrace professional pay). Through limited funding, the “reward” scheme is still artificially limited to around 10% of the profession; the criteria for eligibility are still data-based and ignore both collegiality and the broad achievements of the profession such as teaching students with special needs; and certification remains likely to be an onerous expense on individuals.

The teaching profession and public education in this country would be better served by a system of professional pay. The QTU, and the AEU, have long advocated for a new classroom teacher classification to recognise teaching knowledge and practice. The scheme should be fully Government-funded, including the processes by which teachers access the new pay level.

QTU policy is that eligibility would be determined by self and peer assessment that takes into account the full range of teachers’ achievements; we also have the position that we are willing to explore a variety of options with our members and with both the Queensland and Federal Governments.

Professional pay would help retain our most experienced and skilled teachers at the chalkface – bonus schemes are cheesy political stunts.

Kevin Bates