The Department of Education (DoE) Teacher Transfer Guidelines state that a condition of teacher employment is that a permanent teacher may be required to teach at any school location in the state. The legislative authority for the Director-General of the Department of Education to transfer a teacher or education leader is derived from section 133 of the Public Service Act 2008, which states: “The chief executive of a department may transfer or redeploy a public service officer of the department within the department.”
The power to transfer a departmental officer, including a teacher, is not an absolute power and has a test of reasonableness associated with it. Section 134 of the Public Service Act 2008 states: “If a public service officer is transferred under section 133, the transfer has effect unless the officer establishes reasonable grounds for refusing the transfer to the satisfaction of the officer’s chief executive.”
Teacher transfers are the subject of an appeal process, and it is this appeal process which establishes whether or not the transfer is reasonable pursuant to section 134 of the Public Service Act 2008. Transfer appeal information and advice is available elsewhere on the QTU website.
2021 Teacher Transfer Process – Intra-regional required transfers
Each year the QTU engages with the department to discuss and hopefully improve the teacher transfer process. This engagement has occurred this year around issues such as:
- 2021 Guaranteed Transfers
- Required transfers (both within and outside a region)
- Encouragement model approach to rural/remote service
- Compassionate transfers
For the past couple of years, the QTU has been concerned that the only transfers that seem to occur are requested transfers where a suitable vacancy is identified. This has resulted in no movement of teachers even within a region unless the transfer is requested. The QTU and some sections of the department understand that this approach is not sustainable into the future.
In the past month at least one region in SE Queensland has commenced a process to engage with teachers who may not have completed service outside the region and are currently in a school in a preferred area. For the region to create vacancies for teachers who have completed rural/remote service, teachers who have not completed service outside the region and who have been at their current school for several years are being approached about a possible transfer to another school within the region and within the 50 minutes travelling time.
The QTU’s advice for teachers approached by their principal or a regional staffing officer about a possible required transfer to another school within the region is:
- These transfers are a part of the teacher transfer guidelines and have been so since their inception in the early 1990s.
- The QTU supports such transfers undertaken in a transparent way where members are consulted.
- The QTU supports regions trying to create vacancies in preferred areas for teachers who have completed rural/remote service.
- Members who believe they are unable to move to another school in their region should provide the region with the relevant documentary evidence to support their position.
- Members who receive such a transfer have appeal rights but transfers to schools within 50 minutes of their residence are very difficult to overturn.
Further information can be found in the March 2021 Teachers’ Journal article on teacher transfers.
Queensland Teachers’ Union