The Victorian Teachers Union, AEU has negotiated a new in-principle enterprise agreement, with the Department of Education, aimed at reducing excessive teacher workloads.
The new in-principal enterprise agreement, which was endorsed on 4 February, will see 2000 more teachers join the Victorian state school system, cutting face-to-face teaching hours and giving teachers more time to prepare lessons within their paid hours. The agreement includes a salary increase for the lowest paid education support staff and an investment of $12 million a year to reduce the administrative burden faced by principals.
The 1.5 hour a week reduction is planned to be phased in during 2023 and 2024, and aims to give teachers more time for preparation and planning for student learning within their paid hours.
“Our new agreement, endorsed by the AEU Joint Primary and Secondary Sector Council, makes important and significant inroads to address the excessive workloads faced by teachers.” says AEU Victorian Branch president, Meredith Peace.
“When we launched our campaign in April 2021, teachers wanted excessive workloads addressed, additional teachers employed, and salaries that reflect the value of the work of all school staff, particularly education support staff.’’
The draft Victorian Government Schools Agreement (VGSA 2021) also features significantly expanded time-in-lieu arrangements, enabling Victorian teachers, for the first time, to access time in lieu for time spent working outside paid hours for activities such as excursions, after hours sport and camps. Similarly, for education support (ES) staff, there will be much clearer requirements that any work required of ES outside of normal hours must be recorded and attract time-in-lieu.
The new agreement provisions sees superannuation being paid to employees on Parental Leave for 12 months, with paid Maternity Leave to increase to 16 weeks. Partner Leave has been increased from one week to four weeks, and other paid Parental Leave increasing from eight weeks to 16 weeks.
Education Minister James Merlino told 7 news that after a challenging two years, the government was proud to support the state’s teachers; “This proposed deal will cement our state as the best place in the nation to work as a teacher and the best place to send a child to school,” he said.
New provisions will give teachers dedicated time within working hours to undertake essential work in relation to their classes and provide improved professional autonomy. A pupil-free day dedicated to assessment and reporting, and the re-introduction of professional practice days, will also assist teachers to better manage their workload.
Principals will benefit from more consultation about their workload when there are significant school operational changes, and a funded commitment to reduce their administrative burdens.