Major gains in new school staffing agreement

Gary Zadkovich
Deputy President

New provision helps appointments moving to permanency

The Teachers Federation has negotiated a new, strengthened staffing agreement for all NSW public schools, to be implemented from the start of term 2, 2016 to the end of term 1, 2020.

This is a significant achievement.

It is rare to find another educational jurisdiction anywhere in the world that has such a regulated, statewide staffing system that ensures security, stability and equity for students, teachers and schools.

In a related move, the Department has committed to working with Federation to develop a new promotions system in the first six months of this year. This is an important opportunity to develop long-overdue reform of the way teachers are promoted to leadership positions.

Balancing the key priorities: The agreement balances a school’s opportunity to meet student needs by locally selecting teachers with particular qualifications, skills and experiences, with maintaining a transfer system that ensures statewide equity in teacher supply and curriculum delivery for students.

This is vital, especially for our more challenging and remote schools.

In contrast to the prevalence of casual and limited-term, contract-based employment in the broader workforce, permanency in employment for teachers is protected. This is a key recruitment and retention incentive for working in NSW public schools.

Crucially, class sizes are also protected for four more years.

More permanent employment opportunities: A new provision enables schools to use additional Gonski funding to create extra permanent teaching positions above the core staffing entitlement.

This is a vast improvement on past practice. When the additional funding for special equity programs such as the National Partnerships was temporary the jobs created were also temporary. Now that the extra funding is built into the recurrent, needs-based Gonski model, schools can establish new positions permanently.

In its report, National Education Reform Agreement — NSW Budget 2013/14, the NSW Department of Education published the annual allocations to each school sector for 2014–2019. It showed that $382 million in new, additional Gonski funding would be allocated to public schools this year. This rises to $745 million in 2017. If the Federal Government honours its full commitment to the NSW agreement, this will increase to $1.153 billion in 2018 and $1.597 billion in 2019.

Huge benefits will flow from this investment. Individual students will gain much-needed additional learning support, the quality of teaching and learning will be enhanced, and more teachers will gain secure, permanent teaching and executive positions.

This highlights the importance of continuing the campaign to convince the federal Liberal and National parties to fully fund the Gonski model as their NSW counterparts are doing.

The new agreement also includes more rigorous auditing and monitoring of temporary teacher appointments into permanent vacancies in schools. This will be done through a joint Federation-Department committee. Breaches of the agreed process will be pursued and rectified.

Implementation of the new process: Updated procedures manuals, resources and training are being developed. The Department and Federation have agreed to present training for principals and Federation Representatives on the new staffing agreement as a component of the Performance and Development Framework workshops being planned for later this term and early in term 2 if necessary.

The staffing agreement was achieved through positive negotiations between the Department and Federation, conducted with goodwill and a shared commitment to providing high-quality public education for all students.

Federation encourages all principals and Federation Workplace Committees to strive to emulate this approach at school level.

Deputy President Gary Zadkovich explains key features of the new agreement:

Click here to download PDF