Staffing: no excuse for under resourcing

With the release of its first budget, the Newman government brought into question its commitment to the continuing provision of adequate resourcing for schools.

The budget identified the need for 569 FTE teachers to compensate for growth in 2013.  But rather than providing 569 additional teachers, the state government decided to create only 159 FTE new teacher positions, claiming that schools can be adequately resourced through the redistribution of existing school resources. 

As a result, the budget required the reallocation of 200 FTE resource teachers in secondary schools, the reallocation of 115 FTE key teacher resources in primary schools and the introduction of rounding down to the staffing calculator for small high schools and primary schools.

The potential effect on schools of these changes is substantial. Initially, the impact may be on class sizes in some schools.  Following an EB campaign during which the retention of class size guarantees in the agreement was a major focus, this new threat to class sizes cannot be taken lightly. 

Additionally, it is our understanding that suggestions are being made that the “flexible” staffing provision can be used to ensure that class size targets are not exceeded.

Members should be aware that many of the provisions in the “flexible staffing” line item in a school’s budget are protected by the school-based management guarantees.

Among the other proposals intended to reduce the impact of the budget changes is the removal of additional release time for heads of department, subject area coordinators, primary deputy principals, heads of curriculum and year level coordinators.

Principals are once again being placed in a difficult position. They are being advised by regional offices to manage the changes without sufficient support.

The QTU surveyed principals in late October to gather data on the impact the budget changes will have on schools. The data from this survey will be used in negotiations with the Minister and Director-General.  Additionally, Union Reps in schools should be working with their principals and through their LCCs to determine what, if any, workplace reforms can be undertaken to address the resourcing shortfalls.

Over the coming weeks, Union Representatives and principals will be working together to raise awareness about the potential impacts of these changes. It is anticipated that the campaign will enter its second stage when school returns next year and the full impact of the budget changes in schools will be evident.

We must all be prepared to campaign hard to ensure that the Newman government delivers on the working conditions that we fought so hard to maintain through the EB campaign.

Kate Ruttiman
Deputy General Secretary

Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 117 No 8,  16 November 2012, p13