Halt curriculum implementation – take control of your workload

QTU members are hereby directed to halt implementation (including familiarisation) of any new learning areas of the Australian Curriculum until further notice.

Members were advised on 10 December 2014 by email, that the ballot to halt the further implementation of the Australian Curriculum was overwhelmingly carried, with 93 per cent of members who voted supporting the directive. More than 17,000 members participated in the ballot.

What does “further implementation (including familiarisation)” mean?

New learning areas are those that the school had not yet commenced implementing. For example, most schools will have implemented Australian Curriculum English, maths, science and history. Some schools may have commenced implementing Australian Curriculum geography this year. In these circumstances, the new learning areas referred to in the directive are Australian Curriculum learning areas other than those listed above. If a school has not commenced implementing Australian Curriculum geography, this would be considered a new learning area. The directive is intended to halt implementation of new curriculum areas - implementation includes familiarisation, planning, teaching and reporting. If schools have already started "implementation" (as defined above) of these curriculum areas (e.g. a school has written programs, familiarised itself with the curriculum, developed lesson plans etc) they are therefore not new learning areas. If, however, a school has not started implementation, they are new learning areas.

Background

In the face of increasing teacher workload and given the uncertainty surrounding the recent review of the Australian Curriculum, the QTU held a ballot of members in November last year to gauge membership support for a directive to halt further implementation of new curriculum, from the start of this year.

The ballot followed a passionate discussion at the November meeting of the QTU State Council, 110 elected delegates from around the state. The Donnelly–Wiltshire review of the Australian Curriculum and the initial government response was released in October. It foreshadowed substantial changes to the structure, content, time allocations and materials associated with the curriculum.

Given the 2014 QTU member survey showed workload as the second most important issue, why continue implementing curriculum that you already know is going to change?
Despite two letters to the Queensland Education Minister, no response was received by the end of the school year.

The Education Council, the committee of Australian education ministers, met on 12 December. The issue was on the agenda but no communique of a decision was released.
On Monday 5 January, when QTU Officers and staff returned to work after the shut-down period, there was a response from the Queensland Education Minister, dated 18 December. With respect to the implementation of new learning areas, the Minister writes:

“Since 2012, schools have worked collaboratively, devoting considerable time and energy to implement the Australian Curriculum in English, Maths, Science, History and Geography. I believe now is the time for consolidation, and during 2015, schools will continue familiarisation with the remaining subjects of the Australian curriculum.”

The QTU concurs with the Minister with respect to his view that this year should be a year for consolidation of the curriculum already implemented. However, he stops short of issuing a halt on the implementation of new learning areas, and encourages familiarisation with the remaining subjects of the Australian Curriculum. Despite departmental advice that there be consideration of school capacity and teacher workload, the QTU is aware that in some schools, this advice is being overlooked in favour of hurried implementation.

In our view, implementation includes the familiarisation, planning, teaching, assessing and reporting of new learning areas. A new learning area is one where classroom teachers have not yet commenced implementation.

Consequently, in light of the ambivalent response from the Education Minister, and the ballot result carried at the end of 2014, the QTU issues the directive at the top of this Newsflash to QTU members in schools and education workplaces.

A set of frequently asked questions has been prepared to help members understand the implications of the directive. Members with further questions should contact the QTU for clarification. (Download the FAQs here)

Familiarisation comes first

The QTU view in relation to new curriculum has always been that teachers should first be given a year to familiarise themselves with the new curriculum, attend professional development opportunities, have the opportunity during school hours to meet and plan for modifications to programs and units of work. Teachers may wish to familiarise themselves with the curriculum in the future, however the directive is designed to halt implementation of any new learning areas, and implementation includes familiarisation.

Once revised curriculum is available, the QTU will seek to negotiate a new implementation timeline. The directive is likely to be in place for some time given the extent of the changes proposed, ensuing debate and the time required for revision.

State election - voting has begun

With the opening of pre-polling, voting in the 2015 state election has begun. This is a critical election for QTU members – it will decide who will be their employer for the next three years, just before negotiations for the next enterprise bargaining agreement begin. Member feedback shows that job security, workload and class sizes are important issues for members in schools and TAFE; to find out how these issues would be affected by the election outcome, and to compare the education and IR policies of the major parties, visit the QTU website www.qtu.asn.au

QTU iShop

For more than 125 years the QTU has represented professional and industrial interests of state school teachers and principals and strived to advance public education in Queensland.

More than just an industrial Union, it is a professional community of educators of which to be proud: assisting individual teachers, campaigning for professional pay conditions and standards, campaigning for funding and promoting the best possible education for Queensland state school students. The QTU’s aim is to be the most democratic and representative voice of the teaching profession in this state.

While members have been wearing QTU “livery” for many, many years, the QTU has now established an iShop via the QTU website where members can buy QTU badged products online. This is not a money-making venture. Rather it is an opportunity for you to show justifiable pride in your profession and, equally, pride in your QTU membership.

Outcomes of ballots for industrial action continue to apply.

In August and September last year, members reaffirmed the decision to take industrial action should the Department of Education, Training and Employment attempt any of the following:

  1. an annual performance review process that has not been negotiated and agreed with the QTU
  2. "performance-based fixed-term contracts" for principals and deputy principals
  3. performance bonuses for teachers or school leaders
  4. any other infringements of conditions and entitlements flowing from the Great Teachers = Great Results action plan
  5. negation or increase of class size targets, as proposed by the Commission of Audit.

It is important that members remember that, while the directive has not yet been issued, these ballot outcomes continue to apply. It has been due to QTU members’ strong resolve to take industrial action in light of any of the issues outlined above that the government has stalled in introducing contracts and performance bonuses.

As we enter a new year of school we cannot become complacent.


 Authorised by Graham Moloney, General Secretary, Queensland Teachers' Union