EB7: new conditions sought for new educators

Included in the QTU’s log of claims for a new certified agreement are a number of issues particularly focused on improving the lot of beginning teachers.

The claim seeks a reduction in contact time (a 0.8 teaching load, which is effectively an increase in non-contact time in the first year of teaching), a review of the probationary processes so they can be streamlined, and an allocated professional development budget for the development of resources.

In addition, as many beginning teachers are not employed on a permanent basis, the QTU is continuing to address temporary teacher issues, including the Queensland Government’s ongoing commitment to the conversion to permanency process in the current certified agreement.   The Union will look at the three-year process as well as processes around offers where there are substantive vacancies.

The QTU is seeking to strengthen the support beginning teachers receive from Department of Education and Training, particularly better induction support.  Part of the issue is separating probation from both induction and provisional registration.  Quality induction should be available for beginning teachers on contract as well as those who are on probation.

A driving force behind the new conditions sought by the QTU is the push for appropriate access to mentoring and professional development by beginning teachers.  The call for support comes from beginning teachers, their colleagues, school leaders and academics.  Beginning teachers are expected to undertake the same responsibilities as their more experienced colleagues.  At the same time, they are also required to become accustomed to a new work environment, work practices and expectations, set not only by the school and the department, but also by the wider school community.  This can cause enormous strain.

With the support of a 0.8 teaching load and other mechanisms, beginning teachers would have greater opportunities to work in conjunction with a mentor to familiarise themselves with all aspects of the teaching profession.  This can, in turn, lessen the sense of having been left to “sink or swim” experienced by many beginning teachers, who report being overwhelmed by the duties and responsibilities associated with teaching.

Another important aspect of EB7 is to specifically target beginning teachers in relation to professional development.  Rather than beginning teachers spending an inordinate amount of time and money developing their own content and materials from scratch, the QTU asserts that ongoing high quality professional development is essential and the most productive way to support new teachers.  An example could be the release of a first-year science teacher to work on resource development with a more experienced science teacher within the same school or elsewhere.

The claim constitutes a package and each element works in conjunction with the others to provide better training and support for beginning teachers.   This is also in line with the Australian Education Union’s policy that “completion of initial teacher education must be followed by a period of timely, accessible and effective induction in which the beginning teacher has the opportunity to integrate theory and practice”. That is the intent of the proposal that the QTU is putting to the government. 

Thalia Edmonds
Industrial Advocate

Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 117 No 2, 16 March 2012, p25