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Workload reduction campaign

330x220-Workload Reduction campaign.pngThe 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 and will be provided to QTU State Council in August.


Queensland Teacher Workload Survey

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.

Workload: The urgent need for change

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.

Teacher workload has increased in Australia

Save Our Schools website reports on the hours of work of Australian teachers in comparison to other OECD countries.

Perceptions of teachers and teaching in Australia

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

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