IEU General Secretary John Quessy and I met with Joy Burch, the ACT Minister for Education and Training, on Monday 24 August.
The meeting was an opportunity to raise issues affecting our members across the schools and early childhood sector in the ACT.
The Union raised a wide range of issues on behalf of members, including the following.
Code of conduct
As a condition of teacher registration or permit to teach in the ACT, teachers are required to comply with a code of conduct relating to professional practice.
The Code of Conduct, approved by the ACT Government, includes the following requirement:
The principles that teachers must, at all times, demonstrate in their professional practice are:
•personal and professional integrity
•respect for others
•acceptance of responsibility for their contribution to the profession and through it to the community.
The Union advised the Minister we were concerned about the breadth and vagueness of these and other requirements in the Code, given that a breach of the Code was a breach of a registration requirement and could lead to a revocation by the ACT Teacher Quality Institute (TQI) of a teacher’s right to teach in any school in the ACT, with a flow-on to other jurisdictions.
The Union is seeking that in considering an alleged breach, TQI should take into account the nature and seriousness of the conduct concerned, the frequency of the conduct and the how recent the conduct was. This is to ensure that trivial one-off matters do not destroy a teacher’s career. We are also seeking that matters not relating to a teacher’s professional work (that is their private behaviour outside the school context) should not be considered.
Members have raised with the Union concerns about TQI’s professional learning requirements (PL), particularly as they impact on teachers who are not full time. In the ACT part time and casual teachers are required to do the same amount of PL as full time teachers, that is 20 hours per annum and 100 hours over five years.
The Union proposed that teachers on leave or on secondment out of teaching should be able to apply for leave of absence from registration requirements and not be required to make up the PL hours on their return. We also requested that lower or more flexible requirements apply to part time and casual teachers.
In relation to the type of courses that are accredited, the Union asked that a wider range of courses be accredited as PL, including for example tertiary study and some courses run by the IEU that have not been accredited.
The Minister listened sympathetically to our concerns. We have agreed to outline some specific proposals in writing and we will report on any developments to members.