Unpacking the non-contact time clause from the Certified Agreement
In response to concerns raised by members regarding workload, the QTU ensured strengthened provisions around the delivery of NCT were negotiated, as articulated in the award and the certified agreement.
The key principles of NCT (or preparation and correction (P&C)
- The award entitlement for full-time primary and special school teachers is 2.5 hours (150 minutes); secondary teachers (full-time) are entitled to 3.5 hours (210 minutes).
- NCT must be provided in blocks no less than the length of a school teaching period in secondary, and half an hour (but preferably an hour) in primary and special.
- All classroom teachers are entitled to access NCT, and NCT lost due to planned school activities should be replaced/made up. The processes outlined below are designed to assist schools in working through how this might occur.
- NCT is to be used for the purpose of preparation, planning and correction.
- How the award entitlement to NCT is used is at the teacher’s discretion.
- Use of NCT provided to teachers above the award entitlement is at the principal’s discretion.
What is a planned school activity?
Planned school activities are those things that form part of the school calendar and are known – e.g. excursions, school camps, sports carnivals (swimming and athletics carnivals), school assemblies, graduations, QCS, exam blocks, practice fire drills and practice lock downs.
Unforeseen activities, such as evacuations, visits by Parliamentarians, critical responses (eg: lock downs) are not seen as planned school activities.
Additionally, sick leave, carer’s leave, student free days, professional development (where the teacher requests to attend rather than being required to attend by the school), industrial relations education leave and public holidays are not recognised as planned school activities, nor are they recognised as a way to repay lost NCT.
If a teacher is required to attend a planned school activity, what actions need to be taken?
Where a teacher is going to lose award entitlement to NCT as a consequence of attendance at a school camp, excursion etc, there should be prior discussions with the teacher on how/when this NCT will be replaced. It is important that teachers explore/suggest ways in which NCT may be managed in partnership with the school leader – solutions are not the sole responsibility of school leaders.
It is not necessary for the NCT to be made up in the week that it is lost, however the agreement in primary and special schools is that lost NCT should be made up by the end of the school term in which the loss occurs. In primary and special schools, a minimum of one hour’s NCT must be provided (half the entitlement) each week if the full entitlement cannot be provided.
In secondary schools, there is currently no such arrangement. An agreement is being negotiated with DET and the QTU is proposing replacement of NCT within the school term. Schools should initially work on this basis.
A process to replace lost NCT should be agreed following consultation through the local consultative committee (LCC). This process should include the timeframe in which NCT lost as a consequence of planned school activities will be replaced and options for how it may be replaced. NB: The arrangements for replacement of NCT lost due to planned school activities need to be determined in advance. These should not include going below the minimum NCT award-entitlement in future weeks, even when there is additional NCT in previous weeks.
What can be done to assist in replacing NCT lost due to planned school activities?
Step 1: Ensure a data capture system is in place in the school.
Step 2: The teacher/school leader identifies the amount of award NCT that has been/will be lost due to the planned school activity.
Step 3: Teachers and the school leader explore options for how this NCT may be replaced
NB: Teachers make decisions about how they use their award entitlement to NCT, consequently decisions on how/when lost NCT is replaced must be made in partnership with the teacher and the school leader.
Existing practices already employed by some schools include:
- going home early upon return from camp
- day off class, on site, either covered by HOD/HOC who does not have a teaching load as part of their regular duties or internal relief/TRS
- enabling “banked” NCT (i.e. NCT being replaced) to be accessed in lieu of attendance at other school events, e.g. athletics carnivals, school assemblies
- no supervision during exam blocks
- engaging a supply teacher in lieu of using internal relief lessons during certain weeks
- planning for excursions that includes strategies on minimising the impact on NCT
- tracking NCT using OneSchool to ensure transparency and fairness
- accessing the TRS safety net where required
- only offering excursions that contain an assessment element – i.e. analyse the scope of excursions offered
- use of flexible student free days
- assigning an FTE to provide additional relief at the start of the school year.
Step 4: Following consultation, email the agreed process to replace the lost NCT to the relevant teacher(s).
What happens if agreement cannot be reached with an individual teacher?
If the school has an agreed process to replace the NCT lost as a consequence of planned school activities, agreement should not be unreasonably withheld.
The process should be provided to staff in electronic form and hard copy at the commencement of the school year (e.g. in the staff handbook) and reviewed by the LCC annually. In this way, if issues arise throughout the year they can be addressed through changes to the process.
The LCC must be involved in this process, in accordance with the award and the certified agreement.
If the school is unable to replace NCT because it has not been sufficiently resourced by DET, either through the TRS safety net or other mechanisms, the QTU Organiser will work with the members in the school to seek additional resources.