30 Apr 2014 No. 09-14

IPS - QTU withdraws support to protect members

The Queensland Teachers’ Union wishes to advise members that due to the department and government's failure to recognise teachers as key stakeholders in last year's Independent Public Schools (IPS) decisions, QTU conference and council has determined to withdraw support for the program.

Accordingly, the QTU no longer supports schools nominating for the IPS program.

There are a number of reasons for this decision.

1. The government’s failure to respect the input of teachers in this process

The government's failure to respect QTU members' views was evidenced last year when schools in which the majority of QTU members voted against the program were selected for IPS, despite statements made by the Minister that he would not support a school becoming IPS if the staff did not support the nominations. The Director-General justified the selection of these schools by stating that the school staff were one stakeholder in the process, but were weighted no differently from the community and students. This statement is contradictory to those made previously by the Minister. The QTU believes that the staff at the school are the most significant stakeholder group and that their views should prevail when determining whether a school should become an IPS.

2. Threats to the protections offered by the school based management guarantees from the continual changes to the Industrial Relations Act

The most recent changes to the Industrial Relations Act may place the school based management guarantees at risk. In the absence of these guarantees, and their ongoing protection to schools around issues such as single line budgets, the teacher transfer process and relocations, the QTU believes that schools should not nominate for IPS

3. The erosion of the teacher transfer and relocations process

Since the introduction of IPS, it has become apparent that it has become more difficult for members to receive transfers/relocations to schools in their preferred location. This is due to the direct recruitment undertaken by IPS.

4. Impact on regional resources

During the 2013 selection process, DETE changed the parameters for nomination by introducing criteria in relation to “high performing schools” without consultation. As a result, schools and students that would benefit directly from student support services have been disadvantaged, as more advantaged schools who have been accepted as IPS have received a direct allocation of student support service funding and the regional pools accessed by non-IPS have been reduced. With the introduction of the criteria, it has become clear that the government wants to implement a two tier system in Queensland and has further disadvantaged those schools which most need additional funding to support their students.

Given the program's lack of demonstrated benefits and the government's failure to demonstrate that it values the profession by maintaining its commitments to members, the QTU cannot support the IPS program.

Should DETE and the government give a commitment that the views of QTU members will prevail when determining which schools should become IPS, then the QTU may review this position.

Additionally, before supporting any further devolution to schools, the QTU requires commitments from the government regarding the school based management guarantees and their continuation in the face of the current award modernisation process and in future rounds of enterprise bargaining.

What action do we take if our school is considering becoming an IPS?

Should your school be considering nominating for IPS, the QTU's advice is that members should participate in the consultation process and conduct a ballot regarding their school's nomination for the program. For the reasons identified above, the Union encourages members to vote against nominating to become an IPS. A clear no vote will send a message to the Minister that he needs to listen to QTU members. The acceptance of nominations from schools at which the staff have clearly voted against IPS will further demonstrate to members the Minister's determination to ignore their point of view and attack the profession.

What does this mean for those members in IPS?

The withdrawal of support for IPS will not impact on those members who are currently in IPS. The QTU will continue to work to support all members and to advocate to protect the working conditions of members in all settings across Queensland.

For further information regarding the consultation process for IPS, please access the QTU guide on the QTU website.

Labour Day 2014

Labour Day is the time to publicly celebrate our 125th anniversary and the wide range of improvements to teachers’ and principals’ working conditions achieved by the QTU and its members.

It is the time to stand in solidarity against attempts to strip those hard-won conditions away.

In 2014, it’s time for us to reclaim our profession and remind everyone that teaching conditions = learning conditions, and they’re worth too much to lose.

The Brisbane march and family fun day (RNA showgrounds) will be on Sunday 4 May, and in recognition of its 125th anniversary, the QTU will be leading the march. Details of this and other Labour Day events around Queensland are available at www.qtu.asn.au/labourday

Bring your friends and family for a day to remember, and why not celebrate your Union’s 125th anniversary by unearthing your old QTU hats and T-shirts? New shirts will be available, but supply will be limited. And don't forget to bring a hat, water and sunscreen.

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