Early Childhood Keeping safe teaching loads in early childhood

  • 8 Feb 2024

With a new kindergarten year having just begun, it’s worth taking the time to look at the workload you’ve been given and to consider whether it’s reasonable or excessive. A number of safeguards exist to ensure your workload is manageable and that your health and safety is protected.

Under the Victorian Early Childhood Teachers and Educators Agreement 2020 (VECTEA) and the Early Education Employees Agreement 2020 (EEEA), full-time kindergarten teachers cannot be required to undertake more than 25.5 hours of face-to-face teaching in a single week. This operates on a pro-rata basis for teachers employed part time (e.g. a teacher employed at 0.6 can do a maximum 15.3 hours of face-to-face teaching).

For those employed under the Educational Services (Teachers) Award 2020 in a kindergarten program run in a long day care setting, the maximum amount of face-to-face teaching per week is 36 hours. Like the VECTEA and EEEA, this operates on a pro-rata basis for part-time teachers.

VECTEA and EEEA contain an additional safeguard against excessive workloads, known as the Workload Index. While perhaps a little complicated at first glance, the Workload Index is simple to calculate and provides an effective check on what can be expected of early childhood teachers.

The Workload Index for an individual teacher is found by multiplying a teacher’s face-to-face hours by the number of children they teach in a group. The resulting numbers are then added together to reach the final figure, and this figure cannot exceed 765.

For example, a full-time kindergarten teacher might have a week that breaks down in the following way:

 Monday (A): five hours x 27 children = 135

 Tuesday (B): five hours x 30 children = 150

 Wednesday (B): five hours x 31 children = 155

 Thursday (A): five hours x 29 children = 145

 Friday (A): five hours x 30 children = 150

 135 + 150 + 155 + 145 + 150 = 735

As this is below 765, it’s not considered excessive under the Workload Index.

For teachers working under a rotational model, the Workload Index is applied by looking at the number of children attending each day. For example, a 0.8 teacher working under a rotational model might have a week that breaks down in the following way:

 Monday (A, B, C): five hours x 30 children = 150

 Tuesday (B, C, D): five hours x 33 children = 165

 Wednesday (A, C, D): five hours x 32 children = 160

 Thursday (A, B, D): five hours x 31 children = 155

 150 + 165 + 160 + 155 = 630

For a teacher employed at 0.8, the Workload Index is 612 (765 x 0.8 = 612). Therefore, the workload under this arrangement would be considered excessive. As a result, the teacher’s employer would need to reduce the number of children in one or more of the groups, or reduce the number of face-to-face hours worked by the teacher.

In addition to these rules, a teacher’s workload must always be reasonable with regard to other factors, such as the expectations of the employer and any behavioural issues amongst the children in each group. It’s important that other factors impacting on workload are also considered, as they represent a risk to a teacher’s health and safety.

The AEU has a comprehensive range of advice sheets covering common industrial and professional issues in every sector.

Visit aeuvic.asn.au/advice-sheets to search for information on all manner of issues from parental leave to capability assessments to WorkCover and much more. 

For all other work-related enquiries, phone our Member Support Centre on 1800 238 842 or email [email protected], 8.30am–5pm Monday–Friday.

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