EVENTS

CIT

EA Negotiations: The State of Play

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We review the Education & Training Directorate’s progress in response to our log of claims for a new ETD Teacher Enterprise Agreement.

Read everything in the latest ACT Educator here | Check www.aeuact.org.au/ea_update for all the latest news on negotiations.


Reduced face-to-face teaching time

OUR CLAIM:

That weekly contact hours for classroom teachers remain 21.5 in primary school and 19 in secondary school but that, of that time, 1.5 hours for primary school teachers and 1 hour per week for secondary school teachers be set aside to support the development of professional learning communities in all schools. This equates to 60 hours per year and 40 hours per year respectively.

STATE OF NEGOTIATIONS:

  • In its October 24 Offer, ETD completely agreed with our case that professional learning communities (PLCs) are the best way of improving student outcomes. Almost paraphrasing our log of claims, it stated: “Teaching improves when teachers learn from each other. Research indicates that regular, structured, collaborative professional learning activities in schools have a direct impact on improving teaching and learning in the classroom. These activities often referred to as ‘professional learning communities’, include: team teaching; coaching and mentoring, particularly of new educators; peer observation in the classroom and feedback; faculty or year level teams examining and developing teaching practices to meet; student learning needs; school based action research groups.” (p.6)

  • ETD went further, stating: “Professional learning communities put teachers in the ‘driving seat’ of their own continuous improvement in teaching practice. This is not about attending courses or conferences but rather teachers regularly coming together to engage in professional conversations and investigations at the workplace.” (p.6)
  • While ETD states it believes PLCs are as important we do, it appears to also believe they’re just another thing teachers can squeeze into the working week. ETD’s October 24 statement was blunt: “The Government’s position is that there will be no reduction in maximum face-to-face teaching hours for teachers and school leaders.”

  • The October 24 offer proposed that three of our current compulsory Professional Learning days be distributed across teaching weeks (instead of during stand-down) to allow for PLCs. So, in the face of independent evidence that ACT teachers are averaging 50 hour weeks, the employer is proposing to make our teaching weeks even longer. While the October 24 offer paid lip service to the value of professional collaboration, it lacked a genuine commitment to the investment necessary to make tangible, system-wide improvements.

  • Since ACT Branch Council rejected ETD’s offer, constructive conversations are now occurring at the bargaining table about workload issues and reducing the administrivia that takes teachers away from our core duties. Focus group meetings have been facilitated to investigate what aspects of teachers’ workload could be freed up to redirect time to core work.

  • ETD points out that our core claim for reduced face-to-face hours entails 177 extra teachers in ACT public schools (p7). How those teachers are used, if our claim is ultimately successful, will be a decision for principals based on their staffing allocation. It will clearly be imperative that release teachers cover compulsory curriculum content so that we’re not left in the position of having to cover the same content with students in less time.



Salaries

OUR CLAIM:

That ACT teacher and school leader salaries be nationally competitive at all levels. This would sensibly mean that ACT salaries appear in the top three jurisdictions. The operative start date of the EA must be 1 October 2014 and any back pay necessary should be made to that date.

STATE OF NEGOTIATIONS:

  • The Government’s October 24 Offer was 8 x 1.5% increases over 4 years or 3% per annum.

  • The Government’s October 24 offer almost certainly would see the majority of us slip into the bottom half of the states and territories salary table by the end of the agreement. Being 5th in the country behind Northern Territory, Western Australia, Victoria and NSW would be far from “nationally competitive”.

  • Salary justice for ACT teachers was achieved off the back of a strong and sustained member campaign in 2011-2012, when we climbed from last to 3rd in the country. We cannot allow ACT teachers to slip back.

  • In the recent Agreement with Canberra’s nurses, the increase in the first year was $2550. A 3% increase for us in the first year would significantly short-change New Educators (eg, first year teachers would only get only $1825). All educators under the penultimate salary step would get less than $2550.

  • The value of the salary offer depends on what comes with it. In addition to rejecting our core claim, ETD’s October 24 offer simply didn’t address many of our other claims (see below). We can make a more comprehensive assessment of the salaries offer when we know how ETD intends to respond to our full log of claims. We should not allow ETD to pressure us into assessing or accepting one item in our log isolation from the others.



Analysis of Potential Workload Impacts

OUR CLAIM:

That all new employer initiatives that may have an effect on the workload of staff not proceed until consultation with the AEU Branch (for system initiatives) or Sub-branch (for school initiatives) has been accompanied by the submission of ETD’s Analysis of Potential Workload Impacts tool. The design of the tool should be revisited by ETD and the AEU during this EA negotiation.

STATE OF NEGOTIATIONS:

  • The October 24 ETD Offer contained the startling admission that our time is being taken up with tasks unrelated to student learning. ETD confessed: “… some aspects of teachers’ work in schools may have purposes not directly related to improving student learning.” (p.7). While it is deeply concerning that ETD, by its own account, has created this state of affairs, we welcome its desire to address it.

  • In a similar vein, it is pleasing that ETD has discovered a newfound enthusiasm for Workload Committees. “Under clause Q2-School monitoring of workload and practice in the current agreement, the school workload committee has a key role to monitor, review and address workloads with the opportunity to shed out-dated programs and reassess practice and procedure to ensure the most efficient use of teacher time beyond the classroom.” We look forward to working with ETD in the first weeks of the school year to ensure every workplace has an effective  Workload Committee up and operating.

  • To its credit, ETD noted the results of our August member workload survey and in particular the overwhelming view that excessive administrative tasks are impacting on student learning, and have expressed an openness to removing or reassigning these tasks (p.8.)

  • Via focus groups with AEU and ETD nominated teachers, the bargaining parties have sought to identify how we can reduce workload by cutting out tasks that either don’t need to be done at all or shouldn’t be done by teachers.



Acceptable temperature for workplaces

OUR CLAIM:

That ETD guarantees an indoor temperature between 17° and 30° in all workplaces at all times. That ETD agrees to discuss minimum and maximum temperatures for outdoor work.

STATE OF NEGOTIATIONS:

  • This is a key example of a fundamental element of our log of claims that simply wasn’t mentioned in ETD’s October 24 Offer. It wasn’t accepted. It wasn’t rejected. It just wasn’t mentioned.
  • Discussions have now occurred on this urgent issue and ETD have indicated a preparedness to work with us to achieve a solution.



ICT in schools

OUR CLAIM:

That additional resources be allocated to ICT in ACT public schools to ensure a stable working network is available at least 98% of the time. (Stable network to be defined as: Teachers and Students are able to use ICTs in classrooms - and beyond - when and as required.)

That a minimum of one Information Technology Officer (ITO) is guaranteed for each ACT public school to ensure that a teacher’s engagement with ICT is only ever educational in focus and not technical. That in larger schools this number be increased and that the resources to fund this extra provision be funded from outside individual school budgets.

STATE OF NEGOTIATIONS:

  • This claim was not addressed in ETD’s October 24 Offer. Conversations are occurring on the issue of network reliability



New Educator Support Plans

OUR CLAIM:

That New Educators (teachers in their first three years of service) negotiate with their supervisor during Term 1 a “New Educator Support Plan”. This document should be less than one page in length and should outline the intended use of the New Educator Support Days for that year.

STATE OF NEGOTIATIONS:

  • This claim was not addressed in ETD’s October 24 Offer but has been positively received.



Professional Learning Requirements

OUR CLAIM:

That the current requirement for teaching staff to attend five (5) days of approved professional learning each year be reconsidered in light of TQI professional learning requirements, and the new Enterprise Agreement synthesise ETD’s professional learning requirements and those of the TQI.

STATE OF NEGOTIATIONS:

  • ETD has provided for this in their offer, in so far as they propose encouraging and supporting schools to make all their professional learning activities TQI accredited.



Payment to Casual Relief Teachers meeting TQI Professional Learning requirements

OUR CLAIM:

That ETD centrally funds Casual Relief Teachers being paid at their usual rate for each hour they spend meeting TQI professional learning requirements, to a maximum of 20 hours per year.

STATE OF NEGOTIATIONS:

  • ETD rejected this claim in the October 24 offer.



Payment of fees for applying for certification against national standards

OUR CLAIM:

That ETD pays, on a maximum of one occasion within a three year period, any fees associated with a teacher’s application for certification against the Highly Accomplished National Standard or Lead Teacher National Standard.

STATE OF NEGOTIATIONS:

  • ETD have rejected the proposal that they pay application fees.

  • ETD’s October 24 Offer included a proposal to provide a “… a financial reward to teachers on 27 January following certification at the higher standards of: an additional salary increment for classroom teachers on the salary scale, or an allowance for classroom teachers at the top of the scale and SLCs to be equivalent to an average increment and paid over one year.” We have put the position that it should be the top increment.


Appropriate synergy between all teacher appraisal instruments

OUR CLAIM:

That ETD and the AEU participate in an audit of EA clauses and agreed documents that relate to teacher appraisal to ensure that there is appropriate synergy between them, and that all redrafting be completed no later than June 2015.

Further, greater alignment should be sought between the assessment processes for Accelerated Incremental Progression, Executive Teacher (Professional Practice) and Certification against the Highly Accomplished and Lead Teacher Standards, and that officers from the Teacher Quality Institute are invited to contribute to that aligning exercise.

STATE OF NEGOTIATIONS:

  • This claim has received a positive reception at the bargaining table..



Reduced Face-to-Face Teaching Time For Teachers of VET

OUR CLAIM:

That teachers of Vocational Education & Training (VET) have a reduced face-to-face teaching load equivalent to or pro-rata of one line for every four lines of VET classes. This time allowance may be accessed on a weekly basis or be accumulated and accessed as needed and through negotiation with the principal.

STATE OF NEGOTIATIONS:

  • This claim was not addressed in ETD’s October 24 Offer. The views of VET teachers were sought through ETD-AEU focus groups conducted in the latter half of Term 4.



Resource Management Time For Teacher-Librarians

OUR CLAIM:

That r
esource management time is guaranteed for Teacher Librarians.

STATE OF NEGOTIATIONS:

  • This was not addressed in ETD’s October 24 Offer. Meetings with AEU Teacher-Librarian members have been facilitated with the aim of improving guidelines around role articulation.



School Psychologists – Improved Remuneration

OUR CLAIM:

That the quantum of the SEA (to be renamed “Attraction & Retention” arrangement) be increased to 50% of the base rate of relevant remuneration, to encourage new staff to enter the service and retain existing staff.

STATE OF NEGOTIATIONS:

  • This was not addressed in ETD’s October 24 Offer. We await an offer from ETD.



Competitive School Principal Salaries & Conditions

OUR CLAIM:

A Principal remuneration and career structure that provides increases in remuneration which recognise the increased and increasing complexity of principal work and which ensure ACT principal salaries are nationally competitive.

STATE OF NEGOTIATIONS:

  • ETD have offered a range of rhetoric about “transitional arrangements” (p.13) and promises to “develop the revised structure” (p.13). While the offer to teachers provided for 8 salary increases, it has only guaranteed three increases for principals: “Beyond the first three 1.5% increases, principal salaries will be determined through negotiation of a revised principal salary structure.” (p.4).

 


Domestic Violence Leave

OUR CLAIM:

That provision is made for Domestic Violence Leave.

STATE OF NEGOTIATIONS:

  • The employer has agreed in principle to the provision of Domestic Violence Leave, in line with the rest of the ACT Public Service. This means that victims of domestic violence are eligible for up to 20 days leave in addition to other leave entitlements.

 


Check www.aeuact.org.au/ea_update for all the latest news on negotiations. The full October 24 ETD Offer can be viewed here.


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