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Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Dear Colleague, I write to keep you up to date on the schools collective bargaining and in particular how these matters might impact on your work as principal. Employing authorities finally tabled their log of claims a fortnight ago. While the employer claim is made on the teaching, school officer and services staff, we remain concerned with the impact of these matters on principals and their workload. 1. Extra 18 hours required professional development Employing authorities have sought a new requirement of an extra 18 hours per year of teacher professional development. Diocesan employing authorities have indicated that this time may be scheduled in either school vacation time or as twilight sessions; while Religious Institute employing authorities for their part indicate that twilight sessions only would be arranged. At the moment, teachers would typically undertake professional development within six student free days each year. Employing authorities have offered no evidence as to how their claim for an additional 50 per cent of time for directed professional development has been developed, nor have they seemingly undertaken any analysis to determine whether in fact only relevant and meaningful professional development is currently provided within the existing time allocation. Many principals have told us that they already experience significant difficulties at local level in identifying high quality, topical and timely professional development providers within the existing quantum of professional development days allocated. Employing authorities’ demand for an extra 18 hours would obviously impinge on teachers’ time after hours, but it will also impact on principals’ time in both attendance at the professional development arranged and an increase in workload to identify suitable providers and make the necessary arrangements for the delivery of the additional professional development requirement. In short, principals are well placed to appreciate the practicalities of management at school level – and the balance of competing time demands on Senior Administrators and teaching staff alike. The absolute necessity for teachers to have adequate time to prepare and plan for quality, engaged lessons is a fundamental educational issue. Any further claim on teachers’ personal time would have an impact on student learning and staff well-being.

2. Extra tasks for ET6 teachers As you would appreciate, the current ET6 schedule is directed to recognising the demonstrated skill, knowledge, proficiency and contributions of the teacher defining the teacher classified as ET6 as an effective teaching practitioner – and was always about acknowledging the proficiency and quality work undertaken by experienced classroom teachers. Employing authorities have tabled a claim that would essentially undermine the very essence of the ET6 classification structure and the fair-minded processes that underpin it. Fundamentally, employing authorities have indicated that they wanted the capacity to impose additional duties on an ET6 teacher and review the ‘reasonableness’ of discounting the time to do them from the current hours of duty limits. While employee representatives argued that the employer claim was inconsistent with the agreed nature and scope of ET6, we did indicate a preparedness to engage in discussions on a future ET7 ‘Lead Teacher’ classification level. 3. APA – Primary Schools Principals in their collective bargaining have consistently argued over years for a position of APA to be appointed in schools smaller than 451 students. Each time principals raised the issue they were told it was a matter for the schools agreement negotiations. The claim for an APA position in schools less than 451 has now been raised in these negotiations. Employers have rejected the claim. We intend to persist with the claim as principals in such schools know the impact on their workload which arises from not having an APA position. 4. Demands on Principals We have taken this step of writing to Queensland Catholic school principals to share our deep concern with the impact of employing authorities’ claims on teachers and principals in schools. Dealing with the practicalities and complex demands of school level management, principals have a particularly acute insight into the deficiencies and the difficulties of the claims being made on teachers. Such demands for more time and more tasks has the potential to disturb the spirit of goodwill, good humour and cooperation that underpins the smooth operation of schools - and the collegiality that enables so much to be done, with so little. We respect the nature of your role as agent of the employer and recognise your responsibility to act accordingly, notwithstanding your personal views. However, we believe it is important that you have our direct assurance that we are minding your interests in our response to the employer claims on teachers and other staff. Please feel free to contact me regarding any matter raised in this letter. Kind regards,