Casual teachers must replace absent colleagues

Splitting classes, receiving additional students to supervise in your classes, not receiving release from face-to-face (RFF) or having to take classes above their normal teaching load is increasing teacher workloads.

Such approaches are clearly not educationally sound and may present obvious work health and safety risks for teachers and their students. While Federation understands that our profession is in crisis and members continue to campaign for competitive salaries and an increase in release time, schools cannot place unreasonable requests on teachers.

Teachers in primary schools have an entitlement to two hours RFF teaching each week. In high schools, when teachers are given “extras” to replace an absent colleague, the work they would have completed during that period still needs to be done. Just like RFF in primary schools, timetabled non-teaching time allows teachers to plan, assess, follow up with students and parents, complete professional learning, have professional conversations with colleagues, attend meetings, prepare resources; the list is endless.

Teachers should not be required to do more than the maximum number of teaching periods or not be provided with the entitlement to RFF. Additionally, the collapsing of English as an additional language or dialect, Learning and Support and/ or RFF programs, or using these teachers to replace an absent classroom teacher is also unacceptable.

Every attempt should be made to employ a casual teacher to replace absent teachers. Schools experiencing difficulty obtaining casual teachers should contact their Director, Educational Leadership to plan and discuss the options available.

Schools can employ temporary teachers above establishment to provide inbuilt cover and, in some instances, may be able to employ teachers permanently. Your Organiser is available to assist workplace representatives and principals regarding this.

There is hope the new Government will begin implementing the measures needed to address the teacher shortage. However, we must continue to hold it to account and members, with their elected workplace representatives, should meet and discuss suitable actions to address the ongoing shortages.

Workplace Committees are key
Federation is aware of workload demands for teachers and will continue to raise concerns with the Department. However, sometimes workload issues need to be addressed locally.

While teachers are juggling the introduction and implementation of the new curriculum, the loss of expertise and central support from the Department, changes in technology, data collection and many other new “initiatives”, a functioning and effective Workplace Committee can make sure the voices of members are heard in the workplace.

Where additional workload is simply a result of a decision made at the school level, your Workplace Committee can work to resolve workload issues. If your school does not have a Workplace Committee up and running, or you aren’t sure how to go about it, contact your Organiser for assistance.