Turn to Teaching
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 126 No 7, 8 October 2021, page no.20
QTU State Council has decided to withhold support for the Queensland Government's Turn to Teaching (TTT) program until its concerns over the absence of genuine consultation and information are addressed.
The TTT program is intended to address teacher shortages across the state, with a focus on STEM, languages and special education in secondary schools. Under TTT, career changers would be encouraged to become teachers, with a view to being permanently appointed to positions in rural and remote locations once they have successfully completed the program.
However, while the program could help address workforce shortages, the QTU insists that it should not come at a financial cost to schools or unreasonably increase the workload of teachers, and strongly discourages members from submitting an expression of interest to the program until its concerns are addressed.
What are the QTU’s concerns?
The TTT stakeholder reference group does not have QTU or secondary school representation, inhibiting the opportunity for genuine consultation.
The proposed timeline requires candidates to commit to a degree that has not yet been approved by the QCT. Further, schools will be required to submit an expression of interest (EOI) without any information regarding the financial obligations or workload impact.
Preservice teachers will have to be supported by a supervising teacher and a mentor teacher, however there is currently no delineation of roles or information regarding how these roles will be remunerated.
There has been no demonstrable consideration of the workload implications, including expectations of supervising and mentor teachers, and the allocation of funds for the support of the preservice teacher.
What is the TTT program?
Successful applicants will be enrolled in a two-year Master of Teaching degree. In the first-year, they will receive a $20,000 scholarship, while in the second year they will begin a paid internship at the intern rate. The interns will work at a .5 teaching load, but with a full-time salary, and will have access to the same entitlements as a full-time teacher, with support from a supervising teacher and a mentor teacher. Interns will be employed under a Permission to Teach (PTT) with the Queensland College of Teachers (QCT), enabling them to teach unsupervised.
The pilot program begins in 2022 with an estimated 50 preservice teachers.
How will interns be timetabled?
This currently remains unclear as there are no guidelines or role descriptions outlining the position. Additionally, the QTU is not aware of any departmental modelling of how interns could be used in schools. The programs that students will be enrolled in are yet to be approved by the QCT.
The department’s TTT information sheet indicates that interns would be entitled to the “benefits of a full-time teacher”, which the QTU understands to include non-contact time. A base analysis considering .5 of rostered duty time, rest pause and full-time NCT suggest that interns in secondary schools could be rostered on for one day, three hours and 30 minutes per week, and in primary schools for one day, four hours and 30 minutes. There is currently no information regarding how this time could be allocated.
What are the role descriptions and entitlements of a supervising and mentor teacher?
There are currently no role descriptions for either role, however supervising teachers are currently paid $34 per day. It is currently unclear what the arrangements will be for the TTT, and any change would need to be negotiated with the QTU.
The department would be responsible for the scholarship and intern salary, and supervising and mentor teacher support would be paid for by the host school. Presumably, the preservice teacher would be working at the school unsupervised, although it is unclear what arrangements would be made for the observation of the intern. The QTU understands that the host internship school would be required to pay for any release time required for supervising and mentor teachers.
There is currently no further information regarding how the supervising teacher would be paid.
Will interns have access to department housing?
The TTT team has indicated they would, but only if additional housing was available. At the time this Journal went to print, the QTU was yet to see this in writing.