School counsellors’ pay

Michelle Rosicky
Deputy Secretary (Schools)

Current situation comes from convoluted history

Several school counsellor members have contacted Federation for advice after finding their recent payslips classify them as “counsellor” when their 2015 pay advice described them as “classt” (classroom teacher).

It is unfortunate that this change in classification on school counsellor payslips coincided with the Department’s attempts to employ school psychologists.

The background information below is relevant to the reasons for the change.

The Crown Employees (Teachers in Schools and Related Employees) Salaries and Conditions Award 2014, our award, was agreed to in late November 2013. This award commenced in January 2014 and has a three-year duration. Negotiations will commence in the second half of this year for a new award.

The current award was struck at a time where there were a number of unknowns, specifically for school counsellors.

One such question was how the new standards-based pay would affect beginning school counsellors and their interaction with accreditation with the then Institute of Teachers. At the time, there was no legislative requirement for school counsellors to seek accreditation.

The view was formed that it could be problematic to require beginning school counsellors to meet teaching standards for accreditation to obtain standards-based remuneration.

As a result, during negotiation of the current award, Federation proposed that in order to avoid impeding school counsellors’ access to salary progression, these teachers would remain on the incremental pay scale:

“5.1 Standards based remuneration for classroom teachers

“Other educational staff

“The common incremental salary scale will be retained for those classifications of educational staff who cannot be accredited by the Institute of Teachers. These classifications include School Counsellors and Education Officers. If the Institute of Teachers’ provisions change in this regard this approach will be reconsidered.”

This award clause fits with written advice provided recently by the Department to a school counsellor:

“As the new salary arrangements do not apply to School Counsellors and in order for the Department to implement the transitions arrangements under the 2014 Award, it was necessary for new pay scales to be created in our payroll system to maintain existing salary arrangements. This should be the only change you notice. Your salary rate remains unchanged (with the exception of the 2.5 per cent salary increase applied with effect from January 1, 2016.”

The question of school counsellors being able to demonstrate accreditation with Board of Studies and Teacher Education Standards (BOSTES) remains to be settled. Federation is aware that the Department and BOSTES are in discussion on this matter and we believe this is achievable.

The final piece of the puzzle will, it is hoped, be resolved in the forthcoming negotiations for our new award.

'School psychologists' dispute taken to IRC

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