Hurdles and barriers that casuals should not have to face

Members are reporting a decline in casual teacher availability. The casual workforce is critical to the effective management of schools to the extent that regular five year cyclical NESA inspections seek a “plan for providing alternate qualified teaching staff in the event that regular teaching staff are unavailable”.

This provision stems from Section 47 (1)(d) of the Teacher Accreditation Act 2004: Teaching staff for the school have the necessary experience and qualifications.

Splitting of primary classes among colleague teachers because a class teacher is not able to be replaced is becoming more common, because of a shortage of casual teachers. This phenomenon is worthy of close attention and certain remedies are at hand, including adhering to NESA expectations regarding Maintenance of Accreditation while not seeking to place additional employer requirements upon casuals.

What are NESA requirements?

In the final three months of a teacher’s maintenance period, the teacher must declare that they have maintained their practice at the Standards for Proficient Teacher, and completed all requirements for maintenance of accreditation in their NESA online account. Teachers have the option to include a reflective statement about their practice when they make their declaration.

After the teacher has completed their maintenance of accreditation declaration, and before the end of their maintenance period, a teacher’s principal must attest as to whether or not the teacher has continued to maintain their practice against the Standards. The activities and practices that form the basis of this attestation will be comprised of processes that are in place in the school/service, and will not generate additional requirements for the teacher. A written report is not required.

NESA’s policy goes on to state that teachers engage in a range of professional activities and practices in the course of their work that allow them to demonstrate that their practice continues to meet the Standards. These may include, but are not limited to:

  • delivery of NSW curriculum or the Early Years Learning Framework
  • observation of teaching practice
  • feedback to teachers on their practice
  • teacher reflection on their practice
  • child/student assessment data
  • ongoing participation in collaborative planning and teaching, such as lesson study
  • participation in instructional rounds
  • participation in learning walks
  • engagement in collegial activities in and outside the school
  • building relationships with parents/carers and the community, and
  • participation in a performance and development process.

The principal must attest as to whether or not the teacher has continued to maintain their practice at the Standards for Proficient Teacher in their NESA online account, indicating which process or processes have been used as the basis for the judgement about the teacher’s practice.While a teacher’s practice must meet all of the Standards in order to maintain accreditation, there is no requirement for a teacher to produce evidence for every Standard Descriptor through the professional activities and practices that form the basis of the maintenance of accreditation decision for Proficient teachers.

Building additional hurdles for casuals is counterproductive. The processes described above do require a principal to attest to the practice. No mention is made of teachers being compelled to write a report.

Members are also reporting interview processes to become casuals which are onerous and beyond what is required.

Schools should ‘adopt’ casuals, offer school based professional development(especially that considered to be mandatory) and offer tangible support regarding maintenance of accreditation.The prism to view accreditation through is that “processes will not generate additional requirements for the teacher”.

Mark Northam
Assistant Secretary