Principal Update, 27 March 2018
Disappointing meeting about resource ethics policy
A long-awaited meeting about the department’s policy on “Appropriate and ethical use of public resources” was finally held on 21 March, involving QTU officers and the Union’s lawyers, Holding Redlich. Instead of the promised attempt to prepare a joint proposal for change, it became a disappointing defence of the current policy, and any change was deferred until mid-year at the earliest.
However, the matter will not rest there, and the QTU will pursue other avenues to change the policy.
While the policy offers clarity, its demarcations between acceptable and unacceptable use are frequently absurd. Favourite examples have included ANZAC Day wreaths (not sure if a second will be allowed for the centenary of the armistice yet) and the purchase of flowers for a neighbour blocked in by a student’s car – the latter a debate that consumed more resources than the cost of the bunch of flowers. The notion that P&Cs should pay for what in other organisations would be routine expenditure is not a satisfactory response.
The QTU is waiting for a response from the department on a range of practical suggestions to address the sometimes devastating impact of investigations and suspensions of principals and teachers. The proposals were put forward at a meeting on 1 March. The meeting was a follow-up to correspondence submitted by Holding Redlich on the Union’s behalf, which the department referred to the Crime and Corruption Commission.
Our proposals included establishment of timelines for departmental investigations, an emphasis on the presumption of innocence, revisiting the thresholds for formal investigation and disciplinary action, removal of the prohibition on contact with other employees while suspended, and suspension to be with remuneration except in exceptional circumstances. Too often it seems that judgements about principal action are made as if they are the only matters requiring decision – a rarefied atmosphere that bears no relation to the reality of schools.
The processes require system-level change, not just representation in individual cases.
Funding for IPS ends on 30 June this year, and the QTU is seeking the conclusion of the program. The distinction has created a two-tier public education system with an intolerable impact on the transfer system and the rights to relocation of promoted officers. The commitments of education ministers to process have been ignored in practice on many occasions.
The QTU’s aim is to retain those aspects of IPS that are consistent with the operation of a strong public education system and make them available to all schools that are capable of exercising them. These include full staffing allocations and decisions about staffing, but not at the expense of the transfer and relocation systems.
The QTU is happy to receive views from members about what powers should be retained in concluding the IPS experiment.
The Queensland Audit Office has released its performance audit report into funding for state schools, in the form of Investing for Success (I4S).
The report concludes that the $794.4 million in additional federal funding provided to schools over the 2014-2017 period was effectively used to reinforce the Department of Education’s strategic commitment to building a culture of continuous improvement in student and school performance. In 2016, most I4S funds ($300 million allocated; $288 million spent) across all state schools were invested in staff (84 per cent: $242 million).
The report recommends areas for further improvement, particularly in relation to community engagement, but the emphasis is on improving a successful program.
A full copy of the audit report can be accessed at https://www.qao.qld.gov.au/reports-parliament/investing-success
The state government’s commitment of more than $500 million in the State Budget to continue this program for state schools in 2018-2019, necessitated by a lack of funding commitments from the Turnbull federal government, will guarantee the ongoing success of the I4S program.
Teaching principals’ strategy workshop
A teaching principals’ strategy workshop was held on Friday 23 March. The workshop consisted of representatives from around the state.
The purpose of the day was to investigate the unique issues facing teaching principals and develop a campaign to address them. The day produced a strategy that focused on two distinct areas: sustainability around the role and career advancement.
While part of the strategy is aimed at career advancement, there is no doubt that there are also teaching principals who are not interested in promotion and love the balance of teaching and leading a school. However, even very experienced people are struggling with the dual role, and as a result, it is important that this strategy addresses the sustainability of this very important position.
Throughout the year, members will continue to see communications from the QTU with regards to this strategy and the unfolding campaign to support our teaching principal colleagues.
A QTU guide for Education Leaders
“A QTU Guide for Education Leaders” has just been launched for school leader members across the state. This guide was developed to provide assistance and guidance on a range of industrial issues. This resource, used in conjunction with the QTU’s Basic Guide to EB Implementation, Timetabling Guide and Consultation Guide, should prove valuable in assisting school leaders as they navigate the industrial landscape.
This guide contains information in relation to the professional, industrial and legal issues that school leaders address on a regular basis, including:
- Student disciplinary absences
- Managing unsatisfactory performance
- Managing human resources
- Promotion and selection process
- Workplace bullying.
Members can order a copy of this guide online at www.qtu.asn.au/order-guides
Later this semester, a publication focused specifically on legal issues for school leaders will also be released.
QTEC courses for school leaders
This year, the QTU has launched a new look “Navigating the industrial landscape for school leaders” half-day workshop. During this workshop, school leaders will have the opportunity to discuss current issues and campaigns, as well as participate in discussion about the award and certified agreement.
The program for the day is designed with the Regional Organiser so that each workshop meets the needs of the participants. The program is jointly presented by the Regional Organiser and the Assistant Secretary – Education Leaders, Paige Bousen.
Topics may include:
- Implementation of The Award and Certified Agreement 2016 – a session to assist school leaders in the implementation
- HR in schools – including leave provisions and temporary, part-time teachers and teacher-aides
- Managing unsatisfactory performance (specific focus on the informal stage)
- LCCs and consultation – a session specifically aimed at school leaders and leading consultation in the workplace
- Update on the Promotional Positions Classification Review (PPCR) and other current issues for school leaders, such as legal issues.
So far this year, very successful sessions have occurred at:
- Sunshine Coast (14 February)
- Bundaberg (15 March)
- Toowoomba (22 March).
More of these QTEC workshops will be held throughout the state. Invitations are sent out from the office of your Regional Organiser.
Fair Funding Now
Today we’re launching the next phase of our campaign to ensure public schools are properly resourced. We’re calling it “Fair Funding Now”.
2018 should have been a year of celebration for our schools with the biggest investment in schools in decades. But the Turnbull government’s $500 million cut to Queensland schools will deny most of our children the benefits of this life changing assistance. We must stand up and demand fair funding now.
To get involved, visit www.fairfundingnow.org.au/
Don’t forget, to retain all the rights and protections of financial membership of the QTU, you must ensure that your Union dues are paid by this Saturday, 31 March.
Payment options are available at www.qtu.asn.au/myQTU
If you have any questions, please contact the QTU Membership section on 3512 9000.
Authorised by Graham Moloney, General Secretary, Queensland Teachers' Union
21 Graham Street,Milton, QLD, Australia, 4060