Local decisions need to follow handbook

David Ferguson
City Organiser

The process and requirements in selecting a teacher to act in a higher position as set out in the Teachers Handbook must be followed in all cases, the Department of Education and Communities has confirmed.

Correspondence between the Department and Federation confirms that it is a requirement, on every occasion that a higher duties position is to be filled, to:

  • offer to members of staff at the school the opportunity to express an interest in acting in the position
  • run a proper selection process (not a pseudo merit selection panel) that meets all the requirements that are set out in the Teachers Handbook, section 1.5.2.7.

In addition, the Department has confirmed that these principles which underpin the expression of interest and selection process apply to all promotions positions, including:

  • school counsellors applying for district guidance officer (DGO)
  • within school temporary higher duties position created using additional funds.

This correspondence followed a number of reports of "local decisions" that were contrary to the Department’s own mandatory requirements for selecting a teacher to act in a promotions position.

The handbook requirements are mandatory. It states that the selection process is to provide a professional development opportunity and address structural underrepresentation in promotions ranks by certain groups. This entails considering factors well beyond a simplistic paradigm of the supposed most experienced or qualified.

The range of factors in the handbook should not be seen as a collection of arbitrary rules; rather they are a coherent set of important principles for fair, equitable and supportive career development, as is appropriate for public schools.

The key process that a supervisor must apply in the selection process include:

  • giving particular attention to encouraging and developing individual women, teachers from non-English speaking background, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teachers, teachers with a disability
  • providing the opportunity for the professional development and multi-skilling of staff members
  • seeking expression of interest from staff who would like the opportunity to enhance or develop particular skills
  • rearranging the duties where this best meets the school/s needs.

Section 1.5.2.7 lists these mandatory requirements, meaning that while consideration must go to maintaining service delivery of the highest standard and the overall efficiency of the school, the selection by the principal of the teacher for higher duties is very different from the kind of considerations given by a "merit selection" panel for an openly advertised position. For higher duties, no selection panel is mandated, neither is there a requirement for a written CV-style application/expression of interest.

Members who believe that Teachers Handbook requirements have been breached should discuss their concerns with the school’s Federation Workplace Committee and the principal as appropriate. Members should contact their Organiser if assistance is required in ensuring that the important principles of fairness and equity inherent in the handbook requirements are not corrupted.