Workload reduction continues, despite COVID-19
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 123 No 3, 11 May 2020, page no. 23
While business as usual is on hold for the time being, the QTU’s emphasis on workload reduction remains unchanged.
In 2019, the QTU’s Biennial Conference determined that the Union’s number one priority for 2019-2021 would be workload reduction for teachers, heads of program and school leaders. The QTU has identified multiple sources as generating excessive workload, operating at multiple levels including national, state, regional, community, school, and individual. These levels were unpacked in QTU General Secretary Graham Moloney’s editorial in the February edition of the Queensland Teachers’ Journal.
QTU members were beginning to organise workload reduction campaigns in Term 1 through branches, committees, special interest groups and other QTU structures, and QTU officers will continue to work with member groups, as far as practicable, throughout Term 2. The outbreak of COVID-19 has forced Queensland teachers to work in different ways, and this means that while the QTU will be continuing to focus on workload reduction, this will have to be in different ways as well.
Across Queensland, QTU member groups are now organising submissions to the Workload Advisory Council (WAC), the new body formed as a result of the QTU’s EB9 negotiations. The functions of the WAC, which includes QTU representation, are:
- collecting information about issues contributing to workload pressures
- monitoring emerging workload issues
- informing workload reduction initiatives.
Examples of QTU member submissions include identifying excessive workload and reduction initiatives in curriculum areas like those created by individual curriculum plans, reporting cycles and C2C. Register your interest in making a submission by emailing email@example.com with a list of members involved in writing the submission and a brief summary (50 words max) of your workload pressure/workload reduction initiative. QTU Officers will review your summary and help to connect you with members throughout the state who may have similar interests.
At the national level, the QTU will continue to work with our federal counterparts to oppose policies that contribute to excessive workload, like NAPLAN and the Federal Minister’s proposal for learning progressions. Before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, QTU State Council had authorised a ballot of members for a boycott of NAPLAN in 2020. The QTU successfully argued in the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission for the ballot to proceed, despite an application by the Department of Education to the contrary. Our ballot to boycott NAPLAN was only postponed with the onset of COVID-19 and the nationwide cancellation of the test for 2020.
At a state level, the decisions of QTU Executive determined the Union’s ongoing negotiations with the Department of Education in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. QTU advocacy with the department resulted in the Department of Education’s Term 2 operating guidelines, which included the clear statement to schools that there was no requirement for teachers to duplicate their online learning while simultaneously providing face-to-face teaching.