Schools Teacher work and the VGSA 2022
New clauses in the VGSA 2022 focus on the allocation of teacher work, prioritising core work and allowing much-needed time for planning and preparation.
Changing the culture regarding the allocation of teacher work is at the heart of the Victorian Government Schools Agreement 2022 (VGSA 2022). New and continuing clauses need to be used to ensure that teachers have a high level of professional autonomy to do the work related to the teaching and learning program for their classes within the broader requirements set by the school.
Most importantly, the agreement has been changed to prioritise the core work of planning, preparation, assessment and collaboration. This priority delivers on two critical objectives of the agreement: high-quality teaching practice, and a reduction in excessive workload.
It is important that all members understand the scope and limits of a teacher’s role as defined by the agreement.
The new agreement demands that schools do not simply try to fit existing work requirements into the revised clauses. Schools must first look at what the agreement allows and then allocate work accordingly. This is the best way to avoid unreasonable and excessive workload and potential grievances.
The VGSA 2022 contains clear guidance on the work of teachers, including the duties, and how that work is allocated and completed. It is important that all members understand the scope and limits of a teacher’s role as defined by the agreement.
Teacher roles and responsibilities
Schedule 2 of the VGSA 2022 provides a written description of the roles and responsibilities of a classroom teacher, leading teacher, and learning specialist.
Clarification of the roles that can be required of teachers is especially important for new teachers, given the high numbers who leave the profession after only a few years. The agreement directs that the main focus of a classroom teacher’s work in their first five years is on teaching practice, subject content, and classroom management. In addition, Range 1 teachers can make contributions to policy development and project teams, and assist in the implementation of school priorities and the organisation of co-curricular activities. However, it is critical that any work beyond the main focus area is minimised to enable new teachers to establish their classroom practice.
The 30+8 model
The work of all teachers must be managed in accordance with clause 22(8) of the agreement, which divides work into a 30-hour component and an 8-hour component. Thirty hours are provided to a teacher to undertake the work directly related to the teaching and learning program of their class/es (face-to-face teaching, planning, preparation, collaboration and assessment). Work completed within the 30-hour component but outside of face-to-face teaching time is directed by the teacher, provided that it is work related to their class/es. The 8-hour component is for lunch and other activities (yard duty, meetings and other duties).
It is 2023. A full-time primary teacher whose face-to-face teaching is 21.5 hours per week will have 8.5 hours remaining of the 30 hours to undertake duties that are directly related to the teaching and learning program of their class/es. The duties undertaken during this time are to be determined by the teacher. In any given week, the teacher may undertake duties such as preparation for teaching, student assessment, and collaboration with colleagues to undertake planning, if decided by the teacher. Even when the work required varies from week to week, all duties directly related to the teaching and learning program of their class/es must be able to be completed in the 30 hours.
The remaining 8 hours are for other activities. For example, a half-hour lunchbreak each day (which is required), undertaking yard duty, and attending up to two hours of meetings. In some weeks, other duties may be required, such as assisting with the school production or running a games club.
Workload and consultation
Clause 12 of the agreement (consultation) requires that teacher work is considered as part of the long-term planning decisions of the school. This means that each sub-branch is directly involved in the decision-making process via the consultative committee.
It is important that discussion about the allocation of teacher work is broad and covers all aspects, including any changes that impact on workload. In the first instance, this should be a discussion by members through the AEU sub-branch.
If issues arise about the allocation of work or workload, it is essential that members talk to their sub-branch representative, and seek to discuss the matter at a sub-branch meeting, to consider what steps they can take to resolve the problem. Please contact the AEU for advice if needed.
Find the VGSA 2022 and the AEU’s comprehensive implementation guide for more detailed advice, case studies, and action points for AEU representatives and principals at aeuvic.asn.au/help-advice/vgsa-all-you-need-know.