Casuals plan causes headaches

In recent weeks the Broken Bay Diocese has introduced a complex, cascading series of steps to be fulfilled before a casual can be employed. In essence, schools were issued notifications insisting they develop a “casuals plan” consistent with diocesan directives.

The Staff Absence Management Plan (SAMP) has led to various developments that are impacting on teaching and learning.

First, members of the school leadership team are required to replace absent staff by using their own administrative and organisational time (resulting in increased workloads). Secondly, Broken Bay office-based teachers are to be called upon to fill teacher gaps. Finally, and only with the agreement of the area consultant, may a casual teacher be employed.

Schools are frenetically busy workplaces and staffing them is a complex task. This new model is unsustainable and predicated upon IEU members being almost gymnastic in their capacity to manage schools effectively.

The Enterprise Agreement and Work Practices Agreement make it abundantly clear that release time for executive roles, teacher RFF, early career teachers’ release, caps on extras and large class support are not tradeable commodities.

The union was advised that the Broken Bay leadership "endorses the legitimate use of personal/carer’s leave and, in these COVID-19 sensitive times, appreciates the importance of making the wellbeing and safety of staff and students a high priority.

"A decision not to employ a casual should not result in an unreasonable impost on any staff member, nor a significant disruption to the learning for students, nor the smooth operations of the school."

This new model is unsustainable and is predicated upon IEU members being almost gymnastic in their capacity to manage schools effectively.

This is made clear in the SAMP guidelines but it is being misinterpreted somewhat. The diocese aims to generate savings by utilising office-based staff.

IEU members should not relinquish release time to avoid employing a casual. Specialist teachers should not forgo student contact time as the resources directed to these teaching activities are intended to address student disadvantage.

The union is further concerned about long service leave. It appears single days are being paid for through school budgets. Applying for LSL in short blocks (one to three days) thus becomes an unnecessary burden on colleagues and undermines the delivery of various school programs.

Casual teachers are feeling the impact, particularly in primary schools, as formerly regular casual teaching staff are leaving the diocese to seek employment elsewhere.

After more consultation at school level, the union will seek to meet with the diocese to review the SAMP and insist on reassurance that the process is not designed to undermine agreed industrial understandings.

IEU members will be entirely supported if they believe their school is operating outside the Enterprise Agreement and Work Practices Agreement. Let’s avoid unsustainable strategies. Schools should not seek to establish new practices that put teaching and learning at risk.

The union will soon supply information in Broken Bay schools setting out what the negotiated industrial agreements stipulate.

Primary: Your entitlements

  • Class size cap – without large class support
  • K-1 26 students
  • 2-6 30 students
  • Multi-year 25 students

Release time

  • Teacher (FT) 120 min per week
  • Coordinator 1, 2, 3 – 1hr, 2hr, 3hr per week
  • Assistant Principal
    • 101<200 students 1 day per week
    • 201<300 1.5
    • 301<400 2
    • 401<500 2.5
    • 500+ 3
  • Librarians are entitled to 33% admin time per week
  • Special-needs students have a right to their funded support
  • ESL students deserve their in-class support
  • Lunch break is uninterrupted for 30 minutes
  • Early career release: 16 days over two years

Secondary: Your entitlements

  • Not more than 20 hours of face-to-face teaching + two hours of professional duties per week
  • Not more that 15 hours of extras per year, with not more than 5 hours per any one term
  • Supplementary periods to be advised at the beginning of school year
  • Class groups of no greater than 30 in 7-10
  • Class groups of no greater than 25 in 11-12
  • Support for early career teachers
  • Support for teachers returning to the classroom after a five year absence.