Workload reduction campaign
The QTU’s 2019 State Conference, attended by 250 elected delegates from every branch throughout the state, determined that the reduction of teacher and principal workload in a sustained way would be the Union’s number one priority for 2019-2021.
There are two very important words in the decision of Conference: “reduction” and “sustained”.
The current levels of workload are excessive. The objective that Conference deliberately adopted was not the management of workload, but reduction of workload. Nor is the QTU interested in temporary relief that removes workload at the start but leaves intact the mechanisms that generate additional workload. The reduction in workload must be sustainable.
Less than 42
One of the difficulties in tackling teacher and principal workload has been the lack of a clear definition of the extent of working hours. What is specified is the hours of duty provisions contained in the Award, the school term times and the student free days. Beyond that, any additional hours of work are flexible, and are often undertaken at home, intruding on family and personal time.
It is possible to construct a benchmark for purposes of comparison with other workers, without sacrificing the flexibility that can be both an advantage and a necessity of working in schools. A Queensland public servant works 36¼ hours per week for 46 weeks (after annual leave and public holidays are taken out). To work the same total number of hours over 40 teaching weeks (public holidays and SFDs cancel out), a teacher or principal would have to work 41.7 hours per week.
Further, the QTU’s Queensland Teacher Workload (2018) survey included responses from over 12,000 QTU members. The findings of this showed teachers work an average of 44 hours per week and school leaders work an average of 62 hours during a typical week. The findings are consistent with other education and industrial research.
The QTU believes any teacher, head of program or school leader who is routinely required to work beyond 42 hours per week is experiencing time theft. The reduction in the average hours of work to less than 42, will be the next steps in the QTU’s workload reduce campaign.
To be clear, there is no requirement for QTU members to work 42 hours per week, or work during school holidays, or on public holidays.
Less than 42 or <42 recognises a tipping point and aims to restore work-life balance.
Sources of excessive workload
The reality of workload is that there are multiple sources at multiple levels:
- National: federal government, AITSL, ACARA, Education Council
- State: state government and department, QCAA, QCT
- Regional: regional directors, ARDs and “regional priorities”
- School: school plans and priorities, explicit improvement agendas, school reviews
- Individual: yes, even our members, though we are not blaming the victim.
Some of the causes are cultural: expectations of excess work; being accused wrongly as “unprofessional” for managing your workload and rejecting excess; being expected to put students’ wellbeing before your own; promotion processes that prize “achievements” over staff morale and wellbeing; and so on
2018 workload survey
2018 QTU Workload Survey
At the end of 2018, the QTU commissioned the Australian Council of Educational Research (ACER) to undertake a workload survey of Queensland teachers and principals. Over 12,000 QTU members participated in the study.
The Queensland Teacher Workload survey found that 53.3 per cent of teachers worked up to 45 hours per week. The remaining 46.7 per cent worked more than 45 hours per week, with 14.2 per cent working more than 60 hours per week. Principals (including deputy principals and heads of school) worked an average of 61.8 hours in a typical week.
The findings of the Queensland Teacher Workload survey are supported by a recent Monash University study. The research included 2,444 teachers and principals from around Australia and included 416 Queensland participants. The Monash study found 75 per cent of respondents either disagreed (47%) or strongly disagreed (28%) their current workload is manageable.
What is happening?
QTU delegates at our federal affiliated union, The Australian Education Union (AEU) moved motions arising from our 2019 QTU Conference. These included demanding a voice for unions on the governing bodies of ACARA and AITSL so that workload issues can be raised at the conceptual stages of change. This means teacher led participation in federal reviews to be conducted by AITSL.
At a state level, the certification of the schools EB agreement in November 2019 created a Workload Advisory Council to examine causes of and solutions for excessive workload.
The QTU is proud to support research in the fields of education and industrial relations. Late in 2019, the QTU committed its support to an Australian Research Council application to investigate the impact of technology on work intensification, including the creation of a workload recording app. The ARC has approved the grant application and work in partnership with the QTU has already commenced on this three year project.
At the local level, QTU area councils and branches will be asked to identify regional priorities and actions creating excess workloads so that these can be considered and addressed at the Workload Advisory Council.
Workload position statement
The QTU’s Workload Position Statement is informed by QTU policy, contemporary education and industrial research, and QTU member input. The statement is endorsed by QTU Executive and will be referred to State Council in August with a recommendation that the position be adopted as the formal QTU position. State Council consists of QTU members, employed as teachers, heads of program and school leaders, from every QTU branch and Area Council throughout the state, and it is the QTU’s supreme decision-making body.
The QTU’s Workload Position Statement will inform QTU actions to reduce workload. QTU branches, workplaces, and other formal and informal organised groups of QTU members are welcome to provide feedback on the interim statement.
Member feedback can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org and will be provided to QTU State Council in August.
More than 12 000 teachers, heads of program, and school leaders participated in the QTU’s 2018 Queensland Teacher Workload Survey. The QTU commissioned the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) to conduct survey.
The AEU State of Our Schools 2017 report (SoS) found that, for 74 per cent of teachers, the hours spent on school-related activities had increased over the past year. Only 15 per cent reported working 40 hours or less, with 25 per cent working more than 55 hours in a typical week.
Save Our Schools website reports on the hours of work of Australian teachers in comparison to other OECD countries.
A report from Monash University that calls on Australians to #ThankYourTeacher, on the back of a new report that reveals nearly three-quarters of teachers feel underappreciated in the classroom and struggle with workload
Follow the latest developments
The QTU has been reporting on our workload reduction campaign in the Queensland Teacher’s Journal.
- How much more? /Kevin Bates . - QTJ Vol 123 No 3, 11 May 2020, page no.7
- Reducing teacher and principal workload / Graham Moloney. - QTJ, Vol 125 No 1, 21 February 2020, page no. 5
- When enough is enough / Cresta Richardson. - QTJ Vol 125 No 1, 21 February 2020, page no. 9
- Making a difference with workload /Kate Ruttiman. - QTJ Vol 125 No 1, 21 February 2020, page no. 10
- Workload reduction on the national agenda /Kate Ruttiman. - QTJ, Vol 125 No 2, 20 March 2020, page no.6
- Additional TRS days for SATE / Kate Ruttiman. - QTJ Vol 125 No 2, 20 March 2020, page no.10
- Instrumental music deal strikes the right note /Mel da Waard. - QTJ Vol 125 No 2, 20 March 2020, page no.15
- DRTs: It pays to know your conditions / Mel de Waard. - QTJ Vol 123 No 4, 5 June 2020, page no. 6
- Tackling workload and the principles of good workload management / Craig Wood. - QTJVol 125 No 2, 20 March 2020, page no.12
- Workload reduction continues, despite COVID-19 / Craig Wood. - QTJ Vol 123 No 3, 11 May 2020, page no. 23
- Submissions to the Workload Advisory Council /Craig Wood. - QTJ Vol 123 No 4, 5 June 2020, page no. 14
- Workload position statement under development / Craig Wood. - QTJ Vol 123 No 4, 5 June 2020, page no. 15
13 May 2020
Teachers know from experience that changes in technology can lead to increased workloads.
The QTU is concerned the new online learning management system the department is developing to replace existing platforms like ed Studio will have the same result.
General Secretary, Graham Moloney has written to the Director-General, seeking assurances that:
- All teaching and learning materials that have been created by members using existing platforms can be migrated to the new system
- Timelines for the implementation of the learning management system will be negotiated with the QTU
- Quality professional development will be available for members when the new system is ready
- Trialling of the new system will be an opt-in basis
- No changes will be made without consultation with the QTU.
We will keep you posted on any developments in this space.
Read today’s workload reduction bulletin for more, including an update on the Workload Advisory Council:
20 May 2020
While we know that Queensland teachers have been working harder than ever during COVID-19, members should consider whether the recent changes to your mode of working present any opportunities to reduce your workload into the future.
An example of this may be meetings. As the planning consideration guidelines require that meetings are held via video or teleconference has this impacted on the purpose, frequency and duration of staff meetings?
Are you having fewer meetings? Have you changed from weekly to fortnightly for example?
Are they going for the same length of time?
What have the staff meetings been used for – i.e. has the agenda changed?
If there has been a change has it been positive? If the change would continue into the future would this act to positively impact on workload?
These considerations may also apply to other elements of workload such as planning requirements etc. As students return to learning from school next week, it may provide an opportunity to consider whether anything from this period of remote learning could be applied in the future to help mitigate workload.
If you identify something, you can talk to your school QTU reps and your principal.
For more information check out our Back to Basics Guide (p31):
27 May 2020
Queensland teachers and principals re-engineered education delivery from classroom-based delivery to remote learning, virtually or by paper with little notice over five pupil-free days at the end of term 1, plus additional work during the Easter school vacation. Anyone with any understanding of teaching and the operations of schools would recognise this as an amazing professional feat, especially given the limitations of time, resources, and experience in remote teaching.
That’s why the QTU wrote to the Premier on 14 May 2020 stating that a pay freeze is not justified morally, industrially or economically. The letter is published on our website.
Disappointingly we have yet to receive a response from the Premier’s Office. We believe our members deserve better than this.
If you’d like to make your views known to the government, you can contact your local member of parliament. Contact details for all state MPs
3 June 2020
The QTU calls on the Queensland government to change its mind on a pay freeze that is not justified morally, industrially or economically.
The teaching profession has supported the work of essential workers and delivered continuity of learning throughout the pandemic. Many experienced teachers and principals have reported that they have never worked harder.
Take the example of one of our members whose work diary showed contact time nearly doubled over the first three weeks of term 2. He describes typing as fast as he could “for hours and hours without any sort of break over and over,” and fielding and responding to more than 50 emails per day as well as numerous follow up telephone calls for multiple reasons.
Unfortunately, the feedback from our reps suggests this was a common experience among teachers, which makes the government’s pay freeze hard to stomach. As our member said, it really feels like “a fair kick in the guts.”
10 June 2020
The QTU believes any teacher, head of program or school leader who is routinely required to work beyond 42 hours per week is experiencing time theft. Over 12,000 QTU members responded to the QTU’s Queensland Teacher Workload (2018) survey that showed in the teachers work an average of 44 hours per week and school leaders work an average of 62 hours during a typical week. The findings are consistent with other education and industrial research. To reduce the average hours of work to less than 42, will be the next steps in the QTU’s workload reduce campaign.
To be clear, there is no requirement for QTU members to work 42 hours per week, or work during school holidays, or on public holidays. “Less than 42” recognises a tipping point and aims to restore work-life balance.
“Less than 42” is based on a Queensland public servant who works for 36¼ hours per week for 46 weeks (excluding annual leave and public holidays). To work the same number of hours over 40 teaching weeks (excluding public holidays and student free days), QTU members would work 41.7 hours.
Teachers who are routinely performing 44 hours per week or more are experiencing time theft and makes talk of a pay freeze all the more unjust.