Seven Ways To Use the New Agreement To Reduce Workload

The 2014 – 2018 Teaching Staff Enterprise Agreement will come into effect as soon as it is approved by the Fair Work Commission. It's time to start planning how the positive gains we've won on paper can be put into practice. 

1. Know the work teachers will no longer be required to do

The new Agreement codifies a teacher’s core role and explicitly lists tasks teachers will no longer do:

  • packing, stocktaking and moving equipment and furniture;
  • cleaning and maintenance of facilities, furniture and equipment;
  • procurement of resources, including ICT;
  • photocopying;
  • grant submissions;
  • weekend events;
  • weekend professional learning (unless self-directed).
  • Teachers and school assistants are no longer required to complete fortnightly absence records under the new Agreement.

Additionally, in the case of the following tasks, teachers’ involvement will be limited to their educational aspects:

  • student reports;
  • excursions and camps;
  • school community events;
  • student competitions;
  • student attendance, management and welfare;
  • communication with parents/carers;
  • data entry; displays;
  • use of ICT (beyond the normal trouble shooting expected of all ACTPS employees).

How work is reorganised and reallocated to ensure teachers are freed from non-teaching tasks is a matter for negotiation at each workplace.

2. Start a conversation about the role of new school assistants

The first question is how the almost 60 additional school assistants across the system are deployed to help relieve teachers of non-teaching tasks. Sub-branches and workload committees are encouraged to meet before the end of term to discuss where teachers most need administrative support. The goal here is clearly to make sure that this additional resource is used as effectively as possible to reduce overall workload and allow teachers to concentrate on enhancing student learning. Both the sub-branch and workload committee are important fora for dialogue on reducing workload between staff and school leadership.

Take action: organise a meeting of your sub-branch and workload committee before the end of term.

3. Identify if work can be re-organised to enable teachers to focus on their core role

Beyond additional school assistants in our system, ensuring teachers are able to focus on their core role should be the subject of an ongoing conversation in each school. The ongoing challenge will be to identify any outdated non-mandatory programs or procedures that can be shed and whether all practices and systems are as efficient as possible. This is a job primarily for school workload committees.

4. Use the school workload committee

The new Section Q Guidelines – Addressing Teacher Workload will enhance their role so they are crucial tool in workload reduction.

The new guidelines make it clear that ‘members of the workload committee must be provided with sufficient time to conduct their work’. AEU workload committee representatives and principals are encouraged to meet to discuss appropriate arrangements.

Finally, the guidelines also make it clear that “Where workload issues cannot be resolved at the school level, the principal or workload committee chair is to notify the central ETD function with the responsibility to actively implement these guidelines.”

Every school should have a workload committee that regularly meets. The establishment of the school workload committee is the job of the school principal, in collaboration with the AEU sub-branch.

All members can play a part in the workload committee by flagging issues directly with your AEU workload committee representative, directly or through your sub-branch.

5. Watch out for the central ETD workload reduction function

Clearly, we’re all going to benefit if we share ideas across the ACT public education system. ETD has committed to establish a central function devoted to supporting workload reduction to help make this happen. The central function means that ETD has identified an explicit resource to support schools transition from current practice to implementing the guidelines around tasks requiring limited teacher involvement and tasks not expected of teachers. This support will include assisting workload committees resolve disputes; developing and sharing models of best practice in reducing workload; and reporting quarterly to the Directorate/AEU EA Implementation Committee.

6. Consider being part of the AEU Workload Advisory Group

At its meeting on September 5, AEU ACT Branch Council established a 16-member AEU Workload Advisory Group consisting of:

  • Four Councillors (one from each of preschool, primary, high school and college)
  • Three AEU ACT Branch Executive members (one from each sector)
  • Three Principals (one from each sector)
  • Three School Workload Committee Representatives
  • Industrial Officer
  • Lead Organiser
  • Branch Secretary
  • Members with specialist roles as required

This group will monitor developments across the system and identify best practice. How are the extra staff being used in other schools? What remains a challenge and how do we think through that? This advisory group will identify and share the best answers to these questions. It will also advise AEU representatives on the EA implementation committee.

Take action: If you'd like to sit on the AEU Workload Advisory Group please email Andy Jennings ( a paragraph indicating your interest; which position/s you are eligible for; and what you believe you can contribute to the advisory group.

7. Raise issues with the AEU-ETD Enterprise Agreement Implementation Committee

AEU representatives will be meeting with ETD regularly as part of the Enterprise Agreement Implementation Committee. The committee will receive reports on ETD’s efforts to reduce workload – from ETD’s central workload reduction function as well as the AEU Workload Advisory Group - and will be an opportunity to pursue any issues we encounter. In this Agreement and associated guidelines the ACT Government has made an unambiguous commitment to ensure teachers are no longer performing non-teaching tasks that distract from a teacher’s core role. The AEU will be holding the Government to this commitment. You can help us do that by bringing issues to our attention – either through your school workload committee representative or branch councillor.  

The AEU intends to be pro-active and highly visible over the next two years in driving the cultural change required to ensure that the new arrangements are applied sensibly across all of our schools. We all have a role in helping each other understand how workload can best be reduced and sharing best practice across our system. 

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