David Thompson, teacher at Diamond Valley Special Developmental School, is enthusiastic about positive changes they have been able to make as a result of the reduction in the maximum face-to-face teaching time in the VGSA 2022.
With the help of the new agreement, the team has managed to shift the roster around to create one day a week outside of the classroom for every teacher. “The management team came up with the idea,” David says, and it was universally supported by staff.
Rolled out in Term 1, so far “it’s not blowing the budget out,” he says. “It also helps ensure the specialist teachers make their teaching allocation for their time fraction.”
The school has around 130 students across early years, primary and secondary, and 20-plus teachers. David, who has been at Diamond Valley SDS for 15 years, is a classroom teacher and the AEU sub-branch rep. He acknowledges that this plan would likely not be possible in a mainstream setting.
“It sounded too good to be true at first, but it’s all working out well.”
“It sounded too good to be true at first, but it’s all working out well. We still enjoy our protected time, before school and after hours. The little trade-off is that we have a couple of meetings in our planning time, but we are happy to do that,” David says.
Among other things, it has meant teachers have had more time to get a handle on the new technology and electronic assessments currently being rolled out at the school. “It’s been really great – giving teachers more time to get that done,” David says.
“All of the primary teaching staff are out on the one day, and all the secondary staff are out on another day. So it’s good for collaboration.”
The staff work together in a planning space, with a therapist and learning specialist on site for consultation and support. For students, it’s a win, because they get half a day with a specialist – so, for example, a student might have a day of PE and art,” says David. “It’s a great give-and-take at the moment.”
Now that they have “a day a week to plan as a group and to collaborate, it means we don’t have to find a time when we’re all free – we know we have that time.”