25 August 2014

In this issue: Contracts for school leaders rejected by ALP | ICSEA | Principal Performance Review Process

Contracts for school leaders rejected by ALP

As principals and deputy principals would be aware, the QTU has firmly rejected the introduction of contracts for school leaders since the government indicated its intention to offer such contracts when it released its Great Teachers = Great Results plan. Through last year’s ballot, members demonstrated their willingness to take industrial action should contracts for school leaders be introduced (that willingness is being reaffirmed through the current ballot that closes on 11 September).  

Since then, the government has been very quiet on its notion of introducing contracts for school leaders. In contrast, yesterday the Queensland ALP stated it would scrap the idea of school leader contracts altogether if elected.

The QTU maintains its position that it will oppose the introduction of contracts for school leaders.  During the recent QTU membership survey, job security was clearly the key priority for members – the introduction of contracts creates insecure employment and consequently removes job security.  Additionally, there exists no evidence that the placement of school leaders on contracts leads to improved school performance. While the Union will engage with DETE should it wish to discuss the issue, the Union believes that there exist too many unanswered questions to expose members to a situation in which they become “business managers” rather than educational and instructional leaders.

The Minister has recently stated that contracts were a prerequisite for principal performance bonuses. The QTU does not support a system of insecure employment and performance bonuses – instead it supports a system where school leaders are respected, have employment security, are remunerated fairly and properly and are acknowledged as collegial professionals. Recent concerns about so called “headline indicators” simply re-emphasise the importance of maintaining this position.

The QTU welcomes the statements made by the ALP and sees this as a first step toward securing commitments from the government and other political parties to ensure that teaching and learning conditions are protected into the future. In order to have your say in establishing QTU priorities, remember to participate in the workplace meetings and ballot being conducted across the state.

ICSEA

The QTU has recently uncovered a key issue with the way DETE collects information to inform the index of community socio-educational advantage (ICSEA).  

In short, the calculation of ICSEA scores for many schools is being skewed by two features of the process:

  1. the exclusion of a fifth parent employment option from the enrolment form, “no paid employment in the past 12 months” – this option appears in OneSchool but not on the enrolment form, and therefore this data cannot be collected
  2. the fact that the parent employment question is optional – failure to provide this information results in a default to the average ICSEA recorded in MySchool, which is 1,000.

Our consultation with QTU Principal Union Reps has shown that the vast majority confirmed this concern and that they had noticed anomalous ICSEA outcomes – almost invariably an ICSEA that was higher than expected.

The QTU has four main concerns.

  • This issue first came to the attention of principals when their headline indicators in the proposed school performance assessment process were very different from what was expected – this arises because elevated ICSEA scores change the like-school cohort to the detriment of disadvantaged schools.
  • The combination of the employment question being optional and the missing option of “no paid employment” in that question is compounding the negative impact of elevated ICSEA on disadvantaged schools.
  • The inclusion of ICSEA in the direct-to-school funding models being developed at this time adds further importance to resolving this issue (albeit that this is a feature in 20 per cent of the 25 per cent of funding allocation).
  • Artificially elevated ICSEA scores would affect schools’ reported “performance” against “like schools” on the public MySchool website.

Principals have reported that they have been pursuing this individually and not having much success to date.

The QTU has raised this issue directly with DETE and is continuing to pursue a resolution. We will keep you informed of the progress.

Principal Performance Review process

Discussions have commenced regarding the development of a Principal Performance Review process to replace the Principal Capability and Leadership Framework (PCLF). The QTU has rejected notions of a sliding scale of principal performance and has clearly indicated that the source for the process should be the Australian Professional Standard for Principals (APSP).

The following parameters for the negotiation regarding the Principal Performance Review process were established by State Council in May this year:

  • commitment to the role of principals as instructional and curriculum leaders
  • the goals should be developmental and be supported by high quality professional learning
  • alignment with the APSP – it is the view of the QTU that the standard should not be used to develop artificial levels within the review
  • reflection upon the PCLF processes and objectives
  • goals should reflect systemic, professional and local priorities and context – the priority areas should be collaboratively developed, not prescribed
  • goals should be developmental, not established as key performance indicators – there should not be a reliance on simplistic, numerical targets
  • the inclusion of identification and reflection on evidence related to each goal, without requiring the collation of a portfolio of evidence
  • the process is separate and distinct from managing unsatisfactory performance
  • the process should be made up of formal and informal feedback.

The Principal Performance Review process should not:

  • be an annual appraisal/evaluation of a principal against the APSP
  • be an appraisal system to rank principals
  • be driven by data – an overemphasis on data or analysis would denigrate a school leader's professionalism in a highly complex field
  • require five goals under each of the school leadership requirements of the APSP
  • require a goal for every aspect of “principalship”
  • require a digital (or other portfolio) of evidence
  • be used to identify principals for the purpose of rewards – e.g. performance bonuses.

The QTU will continue to consult with members regarding the process as the negotiations progress.


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