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The Independent Voice

May 2009

3

Professional rates of pay essential Queensland cannot afford to institutionalise low teacher wage rates.

($6,954 per annum more), Victoria $81,806 ($4,000) and Western Australia $84,863 ($7,057).

Wage settlements in Victoria, Western Australia, New South Wales and the Northern Territory have achieved comparable teacher salary rates which have effectively set a national benchmark.

While the dollar values clearly differ there are comparative deficiencies for graduate teachers at the other end of the scale.

The current Queensland government wage offer if applied would consign Queensland teachers to significantly lower salary rates in the near term and establish an even lower base to catch up with other states as they go ahead in subsequent agreements. In the interests of absolute transparency the table (right) compares teachers in their ninth year of experience only. While additional steps are typically available to such teachers (including Queensland) the inclusion of these steps invites a set of disingenuous caveats in an attempt to fudge the reality. That reality is stark. On the basis of the current Queensland government offer in 2011 a Queensland teacher with nine years experience would be paid $77,806. In comparison, a similarly experienced teacher in New South Wales will be receiving $84,760

The current Queensland g o v e r n m e n t o ff e r would be an intolerable outcome in light of these comparisons. Members of the QTU are rightly offended by the offer and clearly determined in their rejection of the current government offer. QIEU members working in the nongovernment sector clearly share the predicament with the QTU members given the significance our employers attach to public sector outcomes in determining their wage position. For the moment nongovernment sector employing authorities can adopt a wait and see approach. Interim increases are appreciated and

Catholic interim wage offer first steps for professional rates of pay Catholic employers are to be commended in taking the first step towards professional rates of pay with an interim payment increase of 4.5 per cent to employees. However, the employers’ commitment to parity of public sector outcomes and guarantees to meet benchmark rates of pay achieved interstate is still missing. Employees in Catholic schools continue to endorse a claim for professional rates of pay and maintain that a commitment from employing authorities for comparable pay outcomes with public sector wages is needed. It is in the employer’s interest to achieve professional rates of pay, which in hand will go to attracting and retaining quality staff with quality wages and conditions. The payment of 4.5 per cent or $34 per week, whichever is greater, is consistent with the public sector core offer. The Queensland Teachers’ Union (QTU) claim clearly goes beyond this basic public sector position and seeks wage outcomes consistent with interstate benchmarks. Achieving professional rates of pay in the Catholic sector can only be achieved by supporting our public sector colleagues to achieve rates of pay consistent with these benchmarks. Catholic employee representatives will continue to pursue the commitment of public sector outcomes at negotiations.

commitments to public sector parity can be acknowledged. However, teachers in the nongovernment sector are not going to be satisfied with anything less

than professional rates of pay at least consistent with interstate benchmarks. For the moment the Queensland government is the focus of attention

on teacher wage rates but inevitably employees in non-government schools will turn the spotlight on their employer and look for a commitment to professional rates of pay.

Comparative wages chart

State Public Sector

Current Agreement Ends

QLD offer

Not determined

Teachers four years trained

2009

2010

2011

4.5%

4%

4%

in 9th year

71,936

74,813

77,806

N.S.W.

31 Dec 2011

in 9th year

78,667

81,657

84,760

Vic

31 Dec 2011

in 9th year

77,546

79,648

81,806

N.T.

31 Aug 2010

In 7th Year*

76,351

78,500

To be negotiated

8th Year introduced in 2010

80,480

To be negotiated

Sept 2008

Oct 2009

Feb 2010

Oct 2010

73,280

76,944

78,521

81,661

(in 7th year)

(in 7th year)

(in 8th year)

(in 8th year)

W.A.

7 July 2011

State

Over the course of the agreement the number of incremental pay rungs is increased from 7 to 9.

84,863 (in the 9th year)

* Note: The comparison is made only for teachers in ninth year of experience to allow for transparent comparison. Additional steps are typically available beyond the ninth year with various hard/soft barriers

Masters’ recommendations disguise real issues in education Professor Geoff Masters’ report, A Shared Challenge: Improving Literacy, Numeracy and Science Learning in Queensland Primary Schools, does little to address the real issue of resourcing of schools and is instead a knee-jerk political reaction to the publication of last year’s National Assessment of Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) results. Professor Masters recommends that as a condition of registration for primary school teachers they must show their proficiency through test performances in literacy, numeracy and science. The idea of teachers sitting maths exams to allow them to teach questions the validity of pre-service university teaching courses and is an affront to the obvious professional abilities of teachers. The Masters’ report misses the real issue. It is very rare that a teacher does not know where each of their students are at regarding their literacy and numeracy standards. What teachers actually need are specialist resources to assist those students who are struggling. Provision of adequate resourcing to support beginning teachers is a far more important issue than a test.

Of Professor Masters’ five recommendations outlined in the report, they are all problematic. Master’s second recommendation of high quality professional learning is essential; however, it will come to very little if adequate time and sufficient resourcing is not made available to ensure the smooth implementation of teacher learning. Time within working hours must be allocated for collegial discussion and planning. Recommendation three supports the introduction of a number of specialist literacy, numeracy and science teachers to schools who most need this support which is clearly not contentious in itself; however, the provision of specialists without the provision of adequate release time to access them and then thoughtfully implement their ideas will not result in the desired outcomes. The fourth recommendation that standard science testing be introduced in Years 4, 6, 8 and 10 to identify students who are not meeting expectations falls well short of the mark. It appears that standardised testing is the cure, rather than addressing the critical issues of resourcing: time; class size; equipment; and appropriate classrooms

in which science work can be safely undertaken. The final recommendation that the Queensland government initiates research to inform development of a new program of professional learning for primary school leaders focused on effective strategies for driving improvement in literacy, numeracy and science, is welcome. A significant omission from the report is a targeted response to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander students and students in low SES, rural or remote communities. These students have been shown to have suffered educational disadvantage for years and yet the report makes no specific recommendation as to how to address their very serious needs. One thing is certain; all the good intentions of those who commissioned the report and those who produced it will come to naught if there is not sufficient resourcing to ensure professional rates of pay to attract and retain the best education workers, and resourcing of the highest quality for all schools. View the Masters’ Report at http:// education.qld.gov.au/mastersreview/


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