Schools Attendance and other VGSA 2022 wins

The VGSA 2022 brings with it significant wins on attendance, leave and consultation that will make an immediate difference to members’ lives. 

There are several key changes to the attendance clause in the VGSA 2022 that every school’s consultative committee should be aware of. For full-time education support employees, attendance is unchanged at a minimum of 7.6 hours per day, but ES can now start at 7am (if agreed) and work until 6pm (if agreed), Monday to Friday. Where arrangements haven’t been made, daily start and finish times are 8.30am and 4.36pm.

Leave for ES staff still accrues – 20 days annual leave and 30 days other paid leave, to be taken during school holidays. ES staff can be required to attend for up to six days in school holidays during one or two school vacation periods at the beginning or end of the school holidays and receive a leave purchase allowance. However, adequate notification must be provided of no later than four weeks into the preceding term. Further, subject to the terms of an advertised vacancy or by agreement, the principal and the employee can nominate more than six days of attendance during school holidays if more than six days of work is required. 

ES are entitled to an unpaid lunch break of 30 minutes minimum, taken between the hours of 11.30am and 2.30pm if they work more than five hours, unless otherwise agreed. If for some reason this does not occur, an alternative break must be arranged – this is a new addition to the clause. 

All schools should have a leave policy that provides clear advice, consistent with the new agreement.

Teachers must attend for a minimum of seven hours daily, starting no later than 10 minutes before the first pupil instruction session. Teachers can be required to undertake other duties for up to three hours a week, a maximum of two hours of which can be used for scheduled meetings adjacent to the school day.

Teachers are entitled to a minimum 30-minute lunch break between the hours of 11.30am and 2.30pm.

It’s important that the consultative committee discuss the leave purchase allowance as it relates to attendance for ES, as well as looking at other arrangements that affect attendance (meeting schedules, ES attendance and teacher attendance times and duties, teacher attendance arrangements, etc).

Organisation of attendance for all staff at events outside of school hours and parent/teacher interviews should be considered, along with time in lieu arrangements.

Leave policies

It is important that staff know which leave is an entitlement and which is discretionary. All schools should have a leave policy that provides clear advice, consistent with the new agreement.

Changes from the previous agreement include:

  • release to attend interviews now applies to all employees
  • expanded definition of ‘immediate family’
  • progressive accrual of personal leave
  • increase in period that casual employees are entitled to be unavailable for work due to illness, injury etc. from 48 to 72 hours
  • infectious diseases leave increased to six months
  • pre-natal leave for pregnant ES staff extended to 38 hours
  • partner pre-natal leave expanded to 15.2 hours
  • introduction of 52 weeks of superannuation for primary caregivers on parental leave
  • maternity leave extended from 14 to 16 weeks
  • other paid parental leave extended from 8 to 16 weeks
  • introduction of leave for short-term foster and kinship care
  • partner leave extended from five to 20 days
  • expanded Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural leave.

Class size

Using the consultative process for class sizes, schools should aim for the smallest class sizes possible and plan classes on the following basis: P–6: an average of 26, provided that the average size of 21 at P–2 is maintained; and 7–12: up to 25 students.

During the consultation phase of a school’s plan, classes should not exceed the numbers above. If, after planning has been finalised, changes beyond a school’s control could put a class above this limit, every effort should be made to ensure a safe, suitable classroom.

During the planning stages and beyond, consideration must be given to the nature of activities and equipment involved in a class, along with the maturity and competence of students, and the capabilities of the teacher. Practical class sizes should also be considered in this context and should be arranged so that a safe working environment can be maintained.

This agreement recognises that specialist schools should also plan for the minimum class size possible, taking into account the needs of the students, resources and programming. Student numbers in English as an Additional Language classes should be kept as low as possible.

It is important for the consultative committee to request projected enrolments for the following year and to ask for expected provision of subjects/grades so that they can ensure that no classes are above the planning guidance, with contingency plans agreed upon.

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