New EB must lessen load on overworked shoulders

It is no coincidence that in the development of recent EB claims, one key issue has cropped up time and again: workload.

Change is constant in education, and where there is change, there is an increase in workload.  Significant changes that have occurred during the life of the current agreement alone include:

  • the introduction of the curriculum activity risk assessment
  • the asbestos register and associated training
  • Teaching and Learning Audits
  • Collegial Engagement in Classrooms
  • the introduction of the Australian Curriculum and the use of C2C
    OneSchool reporting, timetabling etc.

So it will come as no surprise that during the coming months, workload will once again be a key issue in negotiations for a replacement EB. 

Under the terms of the current agreement, managing change and its impact on workload is the responsibility of the department, both at the systemic and school level.

At the system level, DET has to consider the impact on workload and work-life balance when making decisions about initiatives.  Additionally, it has to consult with the Union if new initiatives, policies or curriculum would result in significant change to a teacher’s work and could potentially have an adverse effect on workloads and work/life balance.  DET is also required to provide the Union with workload impact statements on major initiatives.

Locally, the school’s local consultative committee has to consider any school-based proposal that could result in a change to work practices.

In recent EB negotiations, the QTU has requested that any workload impact statement also outline what (if any) additional resources would be necessary to support the implementation of the change.  The QTU believes that in order to manage change and its impact on workload, DET should provide schools with sufficient notice of the change, resourcing to support the change and a review process to examine how the change was managed after its implementation.

These same principles should apply if schools change work practices.  QTU members should be consulted and be provided with sufficient notice and resources to support the change in practice, with a commitment to review the change within a reasonable timeframe.

The QTU has also requested that DET recognise a number of positions currently viewed as voluntary in schools.  These positions, including subject area co-ordinator, year level co-ordinator, chair of a curriculum committee and mentor, only currently exist because members are willing to undertake them.  The work associated with this type of role is often essential in schools.  Consequently, the QTU claim includes additional time and/or financial recognition for members who take on positions with additional responsibilities.

The management of an individual’s work/life balance ultimately rests with that person. However, where possible, you should use the resources available to you to minimise the effect any proposed changes may have on your workload.  More information on strategies to support you in workload management can be found in the Right to Teach/Right to Learn section of the QTU website.

Kate Seed
Deputy General Secretary

Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 117 No 3, 20 April 2012, p15