New governance structure for Catholic schools

Unlike most states and territories, Catholic schools in Victoria have not been run by the diocesan Catholic Education Offices. The employers have either been parish priests, religious orders (including national structures), or school boards. The Catholic hierarchy in Victoria has long insisted that canon law requires the church to devolve the control of schools to parish priests. This structure has meant that the union has essentially had to deal with each parish priest and board as the employer and has negotiated multi-employer industrial agreements.

Three of the four dioceses (Sale, Ballarat and the Archdiocese of Melbourne), are now in various stages of an historic new governance model of single incorporated entities in each diocese/archdiocese.

The IEU has been involved in lengthy discussions with each diocese in the move to incorporation. The Diocese of Sale moved to a new structure at the start of 2018 covering all but two schools. The Diocese of Ballarat established a company and started to move schools across in 2019. This process is still underway. Recently the IEU was also briefed on the proposed legal structure for Melbourne and is discussing all of the industrial issues the Archdiocese will need to consider.

Implementation of education changes

Deputy Premier and Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff has recently endorsed two education policy documents for implementation – the Years 9 to 12 Curriculum Framework and the Vision for Vocational Learning and VET in Tasmanian Schools. The IEU stresses that the implementation of these policies must be based on significant input from teachers and schools, along with adequate resourcing and support.

The Years 9 to 12 Curriculum Framework identifies five key priorities for Tasmanian schools: discipline-based study; trans disciplinary projects; professional studies; work based learning and personal futures.

Early this year, consultation forums will be held to get input into course development proposals for development in 2020 and 2021. These will look at structural considerations such as modularisation, multi-level courses, micro credentials, articulation, assessment practice and credentialing.

The Vision for Vocational learning and VET in Tasmanian Schools is an overarching statement and general approach that has as its key elements customisation, localisation and personalisation. Further consultation is needed in relation to policy development and resourcing – key areas of concern for the IEU.

Work intensification focus of campaigns

Work intensification has heightened as a concern for members across all sectors as a result of the changing QCAA senior curriculum, the implementation of the Nationally Consistent Collection of Data (NCCD) on school students with disability process as well as additional employer directed data collection and administration duties.

Measures to address work intensification are key in several current Queensland collective bargaining campaigns.

While the Queensland Catholic campaign achieved many significant outcomes as a result of members’ collective action, meaningful interventions into workload are essential.

At the same time, IEUA-QNT members in Queensland Lutheran schools are fighting to retain workload provisions in their collective agreement as Lutheran Education Queensland (LEQ) seems intent on cutting, controlling and constraining provisions relating to working arrangements.

The employer’s proposal aggregates and averages a teacher’s hours of duty and could significantly increase the directed hours of duty at certain times of the year.

Northern Territory
Concerns over new Teacher Professional Development Framework

The Northern Territory Teacher Registration Board has recently released its Professional Development (PD) Framework.

The framework is a first for the NT, after it was written into the Northern Territory Teacher Registration Act from 1 January 2020, bringing the NT in line with other states where teachers are required to engage in 100 hours of PD over each five year period of their registration.

Although IEUA-QNT, in collaboration with AEU-NT, made a submission during the drafting of this new legislation, the union still has concerns with the final framework.

The framework’s cover letter emphasises the responsibility of teachers to comply with the framework, but provides little information about the responsibility of employers to support and enable teachers to access relevant and appropriate PD.

Without additional documentation around the responsibilities and obligations of employers in relation to teacher PD, members may face difficulties when trying to access their PD or when requesting suitable leave to undertake PD.

The framework document lists six principles to guide teachers in their approach to PD, one of which is ‘Pursuing evidence-based practice’.

While our union supports the use of information on student learning in guiding practice, it is important that this does not become synonymous with data-driven teaching that removes a level of teacher autonomy in the classroom and leads to an over-reliance on data from standardised testing.

South Australia
Update to Teachers Registration and Standards Act

In 2019 the State Government drafted changes to the Teachers Registration and Standards Act which included radical changes to the structure of the Teachers Registration Board.

Of concern was the reduction of the board’s size, with no guaranteed positions for registered teachers, even though it is funded by registration fees.

The bill did not go to cabinet as planned and 2020 has started without any news on the progress of the draft bill. The bill was expected to be introduced before Parliament early March, with the same anti-union and anti-teacher intent.

The IEU and AEU will be advocating strongly for the direct involvement of teachers on their own board and for the professional role of the teacher unions to be maintained.

Western Australia
Support staff suffer wage theft

In 2019 the McGowan government conducted an inquiry into wage theft in Western Australia. A report was handed down in December: it was found that wage theft occurs through underpayment of wages and entitlements, non-payment of wages or allowances for work performed, unauthorised or unreasonable deductions and non payment of superannuation.

While the education sector was not identified as one of the areas of activity where wage theft was most likely to occur, the report did make significant use of the IEU submission.

The IEU identified some of the key areas of wage theft in schools as: support staff such as grounds persons being expected to do unpaid additional hours as ‘there was no money in the budget to pay overtime’ and teachers not being paid the appropriate Position of Responsibility Allowance. The IEU submitted that there is undue pressure on professional staff of various occupations in schools to not ‘complain’ and accept that excess hours are part of the job.

The State Government’s response includes:

  • amending industrial relations law to address wage theft
  • bolstering the Magistrates Court processes and powers to combat wage theft and
  • raising awareness of employment rights and obligations.

New South Wales
Responding to bushfire trauma

At the beginning of the 2020 education year, IEUA NSW/ACT Branch is mindful that many schools and early childhood centres and their communities have either been directly impacted by bushfires or by the smoke that covered Sydney, Canberra and many other areas for a long period. As well as the ongoing drought, schools and centres have also been affected by dust storms, hailstorms and other extreme weather events, including heavy rain and flooding in some areas in February. The union has engaged with employers to provide support for members in workplaces affected by the fires or other recent extreme weather. An IEU online PD course, Responding to Bushfire Trauma, had over 350 participants.

Negotiations are underway for enterprise agreements for Catholic systemic schools and for the Catholic independent sector (model B and C schools), with meetings with the Catholic Commission for Employment Relations (CCER) held in late 2019 and further meetings scheduled for Term 1 this year. As well as the EA negotiations, the union is meeting with diocesan employers to seek improved Work Practices Agreements (WPAs) to address workload concerns such as ever expanding data collection and reporting and increased expectations for PD and other administrative tasks to be completed out of normal school time.

Unfortunately, in the Catholic independent sector CCER has indicated a strong reluctance to regulate aspects of workload, such as the number of meetings and extras per term, but the IEU will continue to work with our members to address such issues as per the diocesan WPAs.

For independent schools (the AIS sector), the current multi enterprise agreements expire in January 2021. The IEU is developing its claim in conjunction with members and meetings are scheduled with the AIS in Term 1.

The outcome of the Fair Work Commission Equal Remuneration Orders case for early childhood teachers is expected and the union will work with early childhood members to advance their interests.

Australian Capital Territory
Certification of Highly Accomplished and Lead Teachers

During 2019, the Teacher Quality Institute (TQI) developed and trialled a modular model for the certification of Highly Accomplished and Lead Teachers (HALT). TQI developed the new model in response to the Future of Education goal of having a HALT in every ACT school.

Under the new model, teachers can undertake certification in modules, allowing applicants to work in manageable portions. It also allows them to make course payments for each module, rather than a full upfront payment.

Last year saw a doubling in applications. The full portfolio approach drew 14 applicants and the modular model 16; while 11 new schools engaged in certification. More assessors engaged in the new model and consolidated their training, reporting greater flexibility and reduced workload.

Other jurisdictions expressed interest in the modular model and presentations have been made to the Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) and to the Tasmanian and NSW teacher regulatory authorities.

Since 2012, 72 teachers have achieved certification in the ACT. This is 13% of the 2018 national total. With a more flexible and accessible process for both HALTs and assessors, the ACT is set to take a bigger chunk of the national average.