Probation term for Proficient Teachers lifted

Joan Lemaire
Senior Vice President

All teachers accredited as Proficient Teachers were from April 26 exempted from probationary requirements and thus made permanent. The Department made this determination after the Federation lodged a dispute in the Industrial Relations Commission on March 24.

The dispute arose from the Department’s decision to remove beginning teacher support funding from some newly-appointed teachers. School Biz stated on February 5 that: “From Term 2, 2016 beginning teacher support payments will be provided to permanent beginning teachers appointed as classroom teachers (not teaching or non-teaching executives or principals) who require mandatory accreditation and have not yet achieved Proficient Teacher accreditation at their date of entering on duty.”

That decision meant that the support, including release time and mentoring, currently available to permanent beginning teachers who have Proficient Teacher accreditation but have not completed their probationary requirements, would be removed.

Federation contended that it was unreasonable to remove the support for these teachers to meet probationary requirements. If a teacher does not meet these requirements the teacher’s appointment can be annulled under the Teaching Services Act. If a position is annulled the teacher will not have a job and there is no right of appeal to the Industrial Relations Commission (IRC).

Federation said removal of this support was an “industrial matter” as defined in the NSW Industrial Relations Act. When several rounds of discussion failed to resolve these issues, Federation lodged a dispute in the Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) on March 24.

Following this, the Department informed Federation of its intention to make a Determination under section 48 of the Teaching Services Act 1980 which allows the Secretary to exempt employees from probationary provisions.

The Secretary, on April 5, stated: “From 26 April 2016 a person who is appointed to a position in the Teaching Service who is a proficient teacher, that is a person who at the time of his or her appointment to the Teaching Service is already accredited by BOSTES at the level of Proficient (or above) is: a) confirmed in that appointment; and b) not required to meet the provisions of section 48, Appointments on Probation of the Teaching Service Act.”

This means these teachers will not have to complete a probationary program, their appointment will be permanent and the appointment cannot be annulled. These teachers, like other permanent teachers, will be supported by the Performance and Development Framework.

This Determination was the Department’s decision: it was not an agreement. The Federation withdrew the dispute from the IRC because the issues raised in the dispute around the probationary requirements and potential annulment of these teachers’ positions were addressed in the Determination.

What does this mean for permanent beginning teachers not accredited at Proficient Teacher level?

The existing provisions of funding set out in the Beginning Teachers Support Funding Policy apply: “For the first year of appointment, funding allocation will be the equivalent of two hours per week per beginning teacher, and the equivalent of an additional one hour per week per beginning teacher to release an experienced teaching colleague to provide mentoring support.

“For the second year of their appointment, the funding allocation will be the equivalent of one hour per week per beginning teacher.”

What will happen to current support for beginning permanent teachers appointed in term 1 2016 or during 2015 who are accredited at Proficient Teacher level?

These teachers will continue to receive the funding support in their first and second year of permanent appointment as described in the Beginning Teachers Support Funding Policy described above.

Will there be support for beginning temporary and casual teachers?

Federation has always claimed that all beginning teachers should be provided with additional support.

The Department has stated it will engage in discussions with Federation about how the savings made from not providing funding support to permanent beginning teachers who are accredited at Proficient Teacher level can be redirected to support temporary beginning teachers who are not accredited as Proficient.

Federation will continue to pursue the need for beginning teachers who are permanent, temporary and casual to be provided with appropriate support and as required by the Performance and Development Framework.

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