HR changes signal the return of IPS to the system
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 124 No 1, 15 February 2019, page no. 9
The end of the 2018 school year saw QTU members take a strong stand to hold the state government to account on the Independent Public Schools (IPS) initiative.
The IPS initiative involves 250 Queensland state schools and has operated since 2013. A review concluded in mid-2018 (you can find the full 2018 evaluation report at www.qtu.asn.au/ips).
In the aftermath of the release of the report, the Queensland Premier announced that her government would continue funding IPS, at an annual cost of some $12.5 million, up until the next election. To add insult to injury, the government planned that the full cost, $25 million, would be paid for by the Department of Education rather than from Treasury.
The Independent Public Schools Strategic Directions Steering Committee, on which I represent the QTU, formed in the wake of the 2015 evaluation of IPS and was reformed in 2018 to develop a recommended government response to outcomes of the 2018 evaluation. The focus of the initial meetings, held on tight timelines at the end of 2018, was the implementation of the outcomes of the review of the department’s human resources systems.
Concerns over the state government’s commitment to act on changes needed in human resource systems and funding for the extension of the IPS initiative led to QTU members voting in large numbers to take industrial action in term one, 2019 if our expectations were not delivered.
The final recommendations of the steering committee regarding a trial of revised teacher transfer and promotional position relocation processes were reported to state cabinet in mid-December and will be implemented from the commencement of the 2019 school year.
Key features of the trials will include:
- human resources systems applying to all schools, with all schools complying with the same set of processes for transfers and relocation
- a new set of principles to guide the department’s human resource practices and provide a focus for decisions made to support individual employees, schools and the organisation as a whole
- measures to improve transfer experiences for teachers in remote locations
- measures to improve relocation experiences for teachers in promotional positions
- prioritisation of support for teachers who were unsuccessful in the 2018 transfer round and teachers in promotional positions who have been waiting for relocation for 12 months or more.
In another success, Education Minister Grace Grace, wrote to the QTU in December to advise that the state government had approved $25 million funding for IPS from Treasury, ensuring that the money would not be taken from existing Department of Education programs.
Provided that these outcomes are implemented as expected, there will be no need to activate the 460 schools that agreed to take industrial action. The industrial action authorised by members is, however, only deferred pending clear evidence of the delivery of the changes promised.
The strength of commitment of QTU members made it clear to the government that the recommendations of the 2018 evaluation must be implemented. The privilege of some few schools in crucial human resources processes that was a feature of IPS will end, and the strength of the whole state education system will be enhanced.