11 November 2016

Industrial issues

Content: Supporting documents | Non-contact time | Class sizes | Staff meetings and flexible student free days |Joint statements | QTU Support


With the certification of the Department of Education and Training State School Teachers’ Certified Agreement 2016 in October this year, schools have been preparing for its implementation. Additionally, the new award, Teaching in State Education Award - State 2016, now has effect in Queensland.

The QTU recognises that the full implementation of the agreement will commence in 2017 and that schools will make every effort to ensure that its terms are met.

The Union is currently developing a range of supporting documents to assist school leaders and Union Reps with the implementation of the agreement. These include:

  • a revised consultation kit that contains relevant supporting documentation to make it easier to navigate the consultation requirements in schools
  • a revised “Timetabling Guide for State Schools” that captures the agreement clauses regarding HODs, HOCs and HOSES and updates to relevant clauses
  • a basic guide to beginning your teaching career 
  • guides to unpacking the non-contact time, staff meetings and class sizes clauses.

While a number of these resources are still in development, the QTU notes and appreciates that school leaders are identifying complexities in delivering on some of the key elements of the agreement.

Non-contact time

Since negotiations for the new agreement were finalised, a number of concerns have been expressed by school leaders with respect to the non-contact time (NCT) provision. The concerns include the capacity of schools to resource the repayment of NCT lost due to planned school activities, and the resources provided by DET to assist in the recording of this loss and its repayment.

On Saturday 5 November, QTU State Council moved the following resolution:

That the QTU calls on the Department of Education and Training to provide mechanisms to support the implementation of EB8 relating to the provision of teacher non-contact time, including, but not limited to:

  • school resourcing to allow for release time; and
  • enhancement to OneSchool technical system to allow for monitoring of teacher non-contact time.

The QTU has written to the Director-General to progress negotiations aligned to these resolutions. While the QTU will work with DET on these issues, this does not resolve the current need to develop processes in schools to support the implementation of the clause next year.

Advice has been sought through our Education Leaders Committee (ELC) and other QTU member administrators regarding the advice documents. The QTU is continuing to work collaboratively with QTU school leaders and the ELC on any matters that arise as a result of implementing the new agreement, and will provide a suite of advice documents accessible to school leaders and Union Reps on implementing the EB.

Class sizes

Another of the key changes in the certified agreement is the clause regarding class size targets. The agreement explicitly recognises that class sizes maxims are important for student outcomes, for managing workload and for the health and well-being of teachers. It also states that classes in excess of the class size targets may only occur in exceptional circumstances.

Where there is the possibility of class sizes in excess of these targets, the class arrangements must be the subject of timely consultation, including through the LCC in schools required to have one. Schools would be aware of the department’s additional allocation processes and should consider making such applications.

Consequently, the QTU is developing a guide with respect to implementing the requirements of the class sizes clause in the agreement. This guide will be made available through the QTU website.

Staff meetings and flexible student free days

The agreement also provides for the purpose, frequency and duration of staff meetings to be the subject of consultation. It does not remove school leaders’ ability to call staff meetings outside the regularly scheduled meetings in emergent circumstances, but rather enables a shared understanding of what staff meetings will do, when they will be held and the length of time allocated to them.

Additionally, all schools may determine to use the five hours of rostered duty time on the October student free days flexibly. In considering the 2017 student free day and flexible professional development hours, the school teaching community may agree to extend student free days beyond seven hours to capture some of the hours of the flexible student free days allocated to the autumn school holidays period, in lieu of attendance on these days. Whether the October hours are used flexibly or whether days are extended to capture the other flexible student free day hours is also subject to consultation through the LCC (or via other mechanisms in schools that are not required to have a LCC – i.e. schools with less than 20 employees).

Joint statements

While the implementation of some of the elements of the joint statements requires consultation, the need for this consultation was not clearly stated in the agreement until now.

The need for consultation is not new; however, as school leaders have attempted to navigate the joint statements, this consultation may have been overlooked. The QTU recognises that most schools have developed data plans and planning frameworks, and implemented outcomes of school reviews and processes of collegial engagement in good faith.

The role of the LCC with respect to these processes is not to expect new school policies to be developed as a consequence of the agreement, but to review processes for any inconsistencies with the relevant joint statement or to identify how they may be improved so that key issues arising from these processes may also be addressed at the school level.

QTU support

The QTU is working closely with a number of school leaders to address concerns that have been raised with respect to the implementation of the certified agreement.

In addition to the “School Leader Fact Checker” on the QTU website, a program of training regarding IR for administrators is being developed for 2017, as well as the relevant supporting documentation.

The QTU also has a number of Principal Union Reps across the state. School leaders will be advised of these contacts at the start of 2017. Additionally, school leaders are invited to work with their relevant Regional Organiser in relation to any matters that may arise.

Discussions regarding the review of the classification structure for promotional positions have commenced. As these negotiations will be industrial in nature, the QTU will consult with its membership across 2017 regarding key issues that they may want considered as part of the review.

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