15 April 2016

The QTU’s EB8 claim has been finalised and negotiations have begun with DET for a replacement agreement. Extensive member consultation saw workload and salary emerge as the major issues. School leader issues in the claim include a review of the classification structure for school leaders, salary distinction between Band 5-7 principals and HOPs, and enhancement to HOSES’ career structures. The full claim is on the QTU website. 

More information on EB8 timelines is available in the QTU Members’ Newsflash sent on 11 April.

Speculation continues that a double dissolution federal election will be held on 2 July. Whenever the election is held, it is becoming clear that school funding will be a critical point of difference between the major parties, with the Coalition government backing further away from delivering anything like “the full Gonski” funding in 2018 and 2019, and instead reducing federal funding increases to cover nothing more than CPI and enrolment growth. More information on the ongoing Gonski campaign is available in the QTU Members’ Newsflash sent on 11 April.

As the election draws closer, the QTU website will follow policy announcements of interest to educators.

At a recent QTU/DET senior officer meeting, the QTU raised concerns about messages coming from assistant regional directors, and consequently some regions. Following this meeting, the QTU convened a meeting with a number of school leaders from across the state to discuss major issues, including workload.

The view expressed by school leaders at this meeting was one of frustration. While it is clear that the message from central office is one of agency and autonomy (provided that the relevant industrial and human resource arrangements are adhered to), the message from regions is somewhat different.

Issues raised include:

  • headline indicators
  • regional data sets and priorities
  • lack of “system-ness”.

Senior officers of the QTU have asked the Director-General for clarity around:

  • how school leaders are measured
  • how the headline indicators are to be used and by whom
  • the role of ARDs and their relationship to principals
  • DET’s expectations of school leaders
  • the role of regions and central office’s ability to direct regions or otherwise.

A copy of the Union’s letter can be accessed here. The letter was also provided, with QTU permission, to all regional directors.

Upon receiving the letter, the Director-General arranged to meet with the QTU to discuss the issues raised by the principals in these meetings. He indicated that, while there is no set definition of how schools are measured, he would expect that students were able to achieve a year’s worth of learning across a school year – i.e. the distance travelled by students, and consequently schools, within a year is the true measure of school improvement.

With respect to ARDs, the Director-General indicated that it is not the role of the ARD to “fix” schools, but it is their role to coach and support principals. Consequently an ARD may challenge principals to identify programs etc that would assist them in working with their staff to achieve gains for students. An ARD therefore might ask challenging questions about a school’s data and provide advice about the strategies and programs being used by the school. Whether or not a school adopts the advice provided by the ARD would be determined in consultation with the school community. Additionally the DG indicated that the approaches taken by ARDs across the state would be consistent with these expectations.

Overall the DG indicated that all principals have agency – i.e. the ability to work with their school community to develop strategies and put in place programs to address school priorities without being directed on a particular course of action by others. It is expected that principals will work within government policies and guidelines as well as industrial and legislative parameters when determining what strategies and programs will be put in place. Essentially school leaders and their community are best placed to determine the needs of the students and should be supported in addressing these needs – principals lead schools, not ARDs or RDs.

Late last term, the QTU sent out a Members’ Newsflash announcing that it had reached agreement with DET on a joint statement on the purpose and use of data in Queensland schools. The statement, endorsed by QTU State Council on 12 March, reinforces the view that the most important data pertaining to student achievement is that relating to the curriculum being taught within the classroom.

The statement is an important step in managing and reducing school leader workload associated with data; proper implementation will ensure more consistent data collection and reporting expectations on school leaders across the state. The statement gives school leaders an important tool to “push back” against unreasonable demands, no matter where those demands are coming from.

According to the joint statement, schools should develop, in consultation with the LCC, a school data plan which documents the approach to data that will be taken by the school, and which takes into consideration workload and resourcing impacts.

The joint statement, signed by the DET Director-General and the QTU General Secretary, is available on the QTU website.

The QTU is developing supporting documentation that can be used as a resource by Union Reps and school leaders in determining what data is important in the school, how this is to be collected and reported, the frequency of the process etc. 

The Queensland Education Minister recently announced changes to the senior assessment system for students in year 12 in 2019.

The changes have been debated for some time now, and the QTU position and policy in relation to the recommendations and external assessment more generally have developed in a democratic way, including consistent reporting to members. Media comment focussed on the 50% external assessment in some subject areas. The QTU accepted the views of subject groups concerning the percentages of external assessment but opposes a single high stakes assessment of 50% as opposed to two of 25%.

The deliberations of the taskforce will now move to the nature of assessment and the way that the ATAR is calculated and issues associated with this.

The QTU is awaiting a report from QCAA to the Minister identifying which elements of the curriculum are required and which are discretionary following decisions of the Education Council. The Minister has given a commitment to negotiate new timelines for implementation and support once the content of the curriculum has been finalised.

Earlier this week schools received a message from the Director-General outlining the expectations of government regarding travel. The QTU raised concerns from principals regarding "red-tape" and variations in regional processes.

As a consequence of the concerns raised, the Director-General forwarded a clarifying message yesterday. A key element is the development of a standard process for use across the state and a separate process for repeated or ongoing travel

For the past eight months, there have been ongoing discussions between the QTU and DET about principal progression. In term 1, agreement was finally reached about the new process for principals who are in schools which have been rebanded twice.

In those schools, a principal is not eligible to broadband up to the new classification, but must demonstrate their merit via a closed merit process. The substantive principal and at-level officers on the approved relocation list are eligible to be invited to apply for this process.

For more information about this process, contact Paige Bousen on services@qtu.asn.au or on 3512 9000.

If principals require lists of ratified QTU promotion panel nominees for panels these are available through their regional HR teams. The QTU will be sending updated lists each term to DET Central Office who will then forward them to the regional HR teams.

The QTU has a standing committee called the Education Leaders Committee (ELC) which comprises 15 principals and associate administrators (DPs, HODs, HOSES). The committee is chaired by QTU Executive member Allan Cook (principal, Isis District State High School)

The Education Leaders Committee:

  • advises the QTU Executive on issues relevant to educational leaders and other members
  • monitors departmental processes such as relocations and merit selection
  • reviews and develops QTU policy relevant to educational leaders 
  • liaises with other QTU standing committee
  • oversees the annual QTU Education Leaders Conference. 

QTU members wishing to have ELC address a specific issue should outline the issue and send it to: services@qtu.asn.au (mark it "Attention: Education Leaders Committee").

SAVE THE DATE : This year the annual Education Leaders Conference will be held on Friday 14 October. The keynote speaker is Professor Geoff Masters. More information will be available on the QTU website later this term.

Since QTU nominees returned to selection panels (after having been removed by the former Newman government), the QTU has been running a number of training sessions face to face as well as running our first online training session for school leaders.

Two sessions were held in Toowoomba in March. One was for QTU members who are on principal panels and the other was for members on deputy principal or head of program panels. The online session has a specific focus on principal panels.

Term 2 training includes:

  • 27 April, Brisbane: Promotion panel training for principal and head of program panels. 
  • 30 May, online training – Legal issues for principals. This session will be available across the state
  • 31 May, online training – promotion panel training. This session will be available across the state.

We will advertise semester 2 QTEC events at the end of semester 1.

The QTU established Principal Union Reps (PURs) in 2009, and we now have more than 50 PURs across the state. Each year, the Union runs a training day to discuss current issues at a state and federal level.

As a result of this training, PURs will also be able to run promotion panel training for the QTU. With the assistance of the PURs, the QTU will be developing a Level 2 promotion panel training package.

The role of PURs includes assisting the QTU Organiser and the Union by providing a school leader perspective on education and industrial issues, including local school issues, in delegations to regional offices and parliamentarians, supporting Union campaigns and in providing a role model, QTU support and information for other school leaders and QTU members.

Graham Moloney
General Secretary                               
Paige Bousen
Assistant Secretary – Education Leaders

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