Several TAFEs have been cherry-picking parts of a Fair Work Commission (FWC) decision that relates to the Automotive Centre of Excellence (ACE) at Bendigo Kangan Institute (BKI) to get more teaching hours from members who are already at breaking point.
In 2021, the Fair Work Commission decision found in favour of BKI by determining that a particular type of assessment known as “the final demonstration” assessment, which is undertaken by members at ACE, should be counted as part of the 400-hour component of their teaching duties, rather than as part of the 800-hour teaching delivery component.
Because of the specific nature of the way some assessment is done at BKI’s ACE, it is the AEU’s position that the outcome of the FWC decision applies primarily to arrangements there, or to other teachers where the same assessment model is used.
But some TAFEs are implementing aspects of the FWC decision in isolation, using scheduling tools (such as the My Scheduling Tool) in a cynical attempt to move in-class assessment from the 800 teaching hours to the 400 preparation, planning, assessment and curriculum development hours within a workplan.
As a result of the 2021 FWC decision, the following circumstances apply at ACE BKI:
- Where two teachers timetabled to teach a class and there is a clear division of duties, i.e. one rostered to teach and the other rostered to assess the ‘demonstration assessment’ and/or ‘final assessments’ only, with the second teacher not to engage in any teaching duties at all, for example, answering students’ questions.
- If the majority of the duty is teaching then all of that timetabled class time will be classed as teaching duty and allocated in the 800 hours. If the majority of the teacher’s rostered time is assessment, then this time could be allocated in the 400 hours.
- The 400 hours are directly related to the 800 hours, i.e. for every hour of teaching, a teacher is entitled to 30 minutes for planning, preparing, developing curriculum and assessment. This time is allocated to the teacher and not timetabled; the teacher uses their professional judgement to determine what specific work they undertake to meet their needs and those of their students.
The AEU has written to BKI to notify of a new dispute in relation to their decision to allocate teaching and assessment duties, which are inconsistent with the Victorian TAFE Teaching Agreement 2018 and the FWC decision. The AEU will continue to monitor the implementation of the agreement and protect our members’ entitlements against any attempts by a TAFE to use scheduling tools, which do not reflect the actual work undertaken by a teacher and result in a breach of the 800 hours teaching cap.
Excessive workloads continue as the main reason teachers leave
AEU members who are affected are right to be angry with TAFE managements and their belligerent attitude towards them. With a shortage of TAFE teachers across the state, it is extremely disappointing to see the health, safety and wellbeing of already overworked teachers being disregarded in this way. This practice only contributes to the increasing number of teachers resigning and returning to industry or retiring early, while the ability to attract and retain new TAFE teachers decreases.
TAFE teachers have been feeling the burden of increased administrative duties and compliance requirements for many years – largely implemented to resolve the rorting of government funding by dodgy for-profit private providers. Teachers already struggle to fit their workload into a 38-hour week, with the AEU’s 2021 State of our TAFE Survey showing that many are doing eight additional unpaid hours per week.
TAFEs must act now
TAFEs need to focus on ways to reduce workloads for existing staff and make teaching in TAFE a more attractive option for prospective teachers and to keep existing ones. This includes via improved arrangements for all teachers delivered through negotiations for the new industrial agreement.
Without retention and attraction, we won’t have enough skilled teachers. And without TAFE teachers, we simply can’t address the skills shortage crisis in Victoria.