To: QTU Members
As we head into Term 3 and what is likely to be a busy Semester 2, we’d like to welcome you back from your well-deserved winter break. Over the holiday period, the QTU held its 115th Biennial Conference. The Conference, which is the Union’s supreme decision-making body, establishes QTU policies, priorities and agenda setting for the next two years. A number of key issues that impact on members were addressed at Conference. Please visit the Conference webpage for a full rundown. www.qtu.asn.au/Conference-2023
Delay to the Implementation of V9 of the Australian Curriculum
During last term, the QTU met with Hon. Grace Grace MP, the Minister for Education, on behalf of our members working in the primary schooling sector, to seek a delay to the implementation of Version 9 of the Australian Curriculum. A delay was also supported by the principals’ associations. We advised the Minister of the negative impact that the original timeline for implementation was having on teacher, head of program and school leader wellbeing and workload.
In her speech to conference, the Minister indicated that, in consideration of this impact, she had determined that the start date for full implementation of English and maths will now be 2025, rather than 2024. She noted that while secondary schools had flexibility in terms of the implementation of the curriculum for years 7-10, this change will only apply to years Prep to 6.
The Minister was clear that she was not stopping schools that were ready to implement the curriculum, however she recognised that implementation decisions needed to be the subject of local decision making. Ultimately, the delay is to ensure that the teaching profession has the time to get it right.
Consequently, full implementation of the new curriculum for all schools is now due by the end of 2027. In the meantime, the department and the QCAA will continue to provide a range of planning, teaching and assessment resources, as well as capability development to support schools and members. The QTU will continue to advocate for additional resources and support for implementation across this timeframe.
The Minister and Premier were both crystal clear in their keynote addresses to Conference that they wanted to let teachers teach and school leaders lead.
Following ongoing work by the QTU in raising behaviour management issues with the Department of Education, the Minister clearly stated that behaviour management and the use of suspensions and exclusions to manage student behaviour in our schools is a particularly complex issue. She identified that schools had many considerations to take into account: student engagement, staff and student safety and wellbeing, and parent/carer and community expectations.
The Minister and Director-General of Education are clear that they have never and will never expect teachers, school leaders and other school employees or students to work or learn in unsafe environments.
The Minister was clear that there is a zero-tolerance approach to violence, and it should be dealt with accordingly.
The message from the department and the Minister is very clear ─ teachers and school leaders are professionals and their judgments are based on the circumstances of any incident. The Minister was clear that she understood that no principal takes the decision to suspend or exclude lightly, that all teaching professionals think long and hard about the impacts their decisions have on young people, and that the need to ensure the safety of staff and other students is paramount.
However, the Minister asked Conference to consider how we can support students who are overrepresented in student disciplinary absences. She recognised the work that the QTU and the department have been doing to identify the need for additional resources, training and support, including appropriately resourcing re-entry programs for students who have been subject to a school disciplinary absence (SDA).
The core message of the Minister’s speech was that the department’s approach to SDAs is one of support – how schools and students can be supported to address the behaviours giving rise to SDAs.
Both the department and the Minister are clear ─ if you do not feel that this is the approach being taken, they cannot address it if they are unaware of it. Consequently, we encourage members who believe that the department’s response to their behaviour management decision making is not one of support, to contact their Organiser or email the Union on email@example.com. Together, we can ensure that there is zero tolerance for violence.
Mobile Phone Ban – Term 1, 2024
In the last week of the holidays, the Minister announced the intention to implement a ban on mobile phone use in Queensland schools from the start of next year. This ban is also to extend to certain wearable mobile devices, such as smart watches, and includes the non-use of phones during break times. The Minister recognised that almost 95 per cent of schools already have policies restricting access to mobile phones and other devices. Consequently, the department is currently developing materials for schools to support their review of existing mobile phone policies.
The department and Minister are aware that there will need to be some exceptions to the ban, including on curriculum and health grounds. The QTU will provide members with further advice when it is available.
Consultation for a new Queensland VET Strategy
The QTU welcomes the Queensland Government’s consultation on and pursuit of a new Queensland VET strategy. To ensure Queensland’s VET sector is delivering the best outcomes for individuals, employers and communities, the Queensland Government has released a discussion paper and online survey.
The QTU was invited to support the development of the discussion paper by Hon. Di Farmer MP (Minister for Employment and Small Business, Minister for Training and Skills Development and Minister for Youth Justice). The QTU is aware that the Minister is strongly committed to hearing from teachers, students, and parents, which is why the department will be holding a series of forums and focus groups in locations across the state and online.
The QTU will be preparing a submission to the Queensland Government by the closing date on 18 August.
At the heart of the QTU are our democratic structures, which allow members to actively participate and help guide the direction of our Union, including via branch meetings, State Council and Executive. Our wide network of Reps and Organisers provides another important route through which members can have their voices heard.
Now we’re providing an additional route for members to have their say on the important issues facing our Union and profession. We’re introducing quarterly member surveys to track member attitudes and satisfaction.
Please take a moment to complete it - it only takes a few minutes and it will ensure your voice is heard.
Survey link: www.qtu.asn.au/qtu-member-survey-2023
Trouble shooting links: if you are having trouble accessing any of the links directly from this update, copy and paste the link into a web browser, or try accessing the link on a personal device.
Authorised by Kate Ruttiman, General Secretary, Queensland Teachers' Union
21 Graham Street, Milton, QLD, Australia, 4064